It’s no surprise that with the 2020 Summer Olympics being held in Tokyo, Japan that anime, manga and video games would work their way into this global sporting event.
During the opening ceremonies on Friday, the world watched as participant nations entered the Japan National Stadium under a medley of video game music. Familiar titles included the theme to Final Fantasy, the aptly named “Olympus Coliseum” from Kingdom Hearts, and “Star Light Zone” from Sonic the Hedgehog. Welcoming the athletes were performers in outfits decorated with a manga motif, the black-and-white shapes and actions familiar to many who read these printed comics.
The full track listing contains selections from popular Square Enix, Sega, Bandai Namco, Konami, and Capcom franchises. Surprisingly, music from Nintendo titles were not present.
- “Roto’s Theme” from Dragon Quest III
- “Victory Fanfare” from Final Fantasy
- “Sorey’s Theme – The Shepherd” from Tales of Zestiria
- “Proof of a Hero” from Monster Hunter Rise
- “Olympus Coliseum” from Kingdom Hearts
- “Frog’s Theme” from Chrono Trigger
- “First Flight” from Ace Combat
- “Royal Capital Majestic Grandeur” from Tales of Graces
- “Wind of Departure” from Monster Hunter
- “Robo’s Theme” from Chrono Trigger
- “Star Light Zone” from Sonic the Hedgehog
- “eFootball Walk-on Theme” from Pro Evolution Soccer
- “Main Theme” from Final Fantasy
- “Guardians” from Phantasy Star Universe
- “Hero’s Fanfare” from Kingdom Hearts
- “01 Act I-1” from Gradius
- “Song of the Ancients” from NieR
- “The Minstrel’s Refrain: SaGa Series Medley 2016” from The Orchestral SaGa -Legend of Music-
- “The Brave New Stage of History” from Soulcalibur VI
Venues hosting volleyball and basketball tournaments piped in the openings their respective sports anime; SPYAIR’s “Imagination” from Haikyuu!! was audible during the Japan-Venezuela Men’s Volleyball game. The first intro to Slam Dunk, “I Want to Shout I Love You” by Baad, played during a Women’s Basketball 3×3 game. And yes, Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno performed to tunes from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.
Not to be outdone, television presenters around the world got in on the fun, with one even donning an outfit to become Jiraiya from Naruto: Shippuden.
However, videos from these events are hard to come by as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has strict rules on rebroadcasting, sharing and distribution of media from the 2020 games and will quickly have social media platforms pull any content down that they determine in violation.
After Tokyo was announced as the host city, the organizing committee banked on the popularity of a number of anime and manga heroes to act as brand ambassadors for the games with Sailor Moon from Sailor Moon, Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece, Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto: Shippuden, Goku from Dragon Ball, Asahina Mirai and Izayoi Riko from Pretty Cure, Astro Boy from Astro Boy, Shinnosuke Nohara from Crayon Shin-chan, and Jibanyan from Yo-kai Watch.
As the Olympics continue, expect to see more Japanese pop culture weaved into this amazing gathering of the world’s best athletes.
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