Matt Kay’s Little Miss Sumo follows Hiyori Kon, a 20-year old female sumo wrestler who is a staunch advocate of removing the culture of sexism around the sport’s professional practices.
It is part of Japan’s regulation to ban women from professionally competing in sumo wrestling, which is ironically the country’s national sport. But there are still some, like Kon, who manage to compete in unauthorized battles, for the love of the sport and as a form of appeal to consider their gender in the field.
Kon takes sumo seriously, with the documentary providing a look at her day-long training for an all-female competition. However, her battle expands beyond mere misrepresentation of women in the sport.
It has been the norm in Japan to favor men in doing the hard work for their family, which is why incomes can be unequal and women are left at home to be housewives/caretakers of their children. In the realm of politics things are much the same, with a large percentage of the body comprised of male members. Little Miss Sumo also briefly grapples with the unfair glorification of women in Japanese popular culture, from gratuitous sexualization in manga and anime to a culture of stereotyping.
Kay’s documentary about Kon is inspiring, but it could’ve been more improved with a longer running time. It banks on the concept that female sumo wrestlers are fighting to change the unequal rules of their sport, but there’s no definite resolution or assumption of where their battles have led to.
Clocking in at nineteen minutes, Little Miss Sumo provides a quick introspection of the world of Hiyori Kon. It might able to allow its audience to sympathize with Kon, but the catharsis did not turn out to be comprehensive as it should.