Rakuten TV announces new original docuseries The Giants

Buzz, Film

Rakuten TV, one of the leading VOD platforms in Europe, today announced its upcoming original documentary series, The Giants, an unprecedented exploration of the unique and intriguing lives of some of the greatest Sumo wrestlers in history, which will be available exclusively and for free on Rakuten TV in summer of 2021.

For the first time, a documentary series will shed a light on the lives of the greatest icons in Sumo, featuring the stories of the non-Japanese wrestlers who became the first Foreign Champions & Grand Champions of Sumo, paving the way for many others to travel to Japan to pursue a career as professional wrestlers.

For some weeks now, cameras have been in Hawaii and Japan to document the lives of these unique athletes, providing an intimate insight and enabling audiences to better understand the challenges faced by today’s wrestlers as they take part in this traditional and fascinating spectacle.

The story focuses on the Hawaiian-born wrestlers who fundamentally changed the face of sumo, such as Konishiki Yasokichi, one of the heaviest sumo wrestlers in history and first non-Japanese-born wrestler to reach Ozeki and Musashimaru Koyo, second foreign-born wrestler to reach the rank of Yokozuna, winner of 12 top division championships. Both champions will be some of the exceptional protagonists that will introduce viewers into this unique discipline.

Through never-before-seen footage, testimonials from the wrestlers themselves and those close to them, this documentary series gives a unique insight into the world of Sumo. From the sacrifices and dedication involved in devoting a lifetime to a rigorous and isolated lifestyle with extreme dietary demands, to life after retirement, where they have formed new careers within their celebrity status. This includes Konishiki Yasokichi, who is still one of Japan’s most recognisable celebrities as a successful rap recording artist and ukulele player, as well as appearing in Hollywood films; or Musashimar, who has shared the screen with Brad Pitt.

Konishiki Yasokichi says of his career and The Giants: “I went to Japan when I was 18. I didn’t really know anything about Sumo – I was spotted one day on the beach in Hawaii and told I had a chance to be something in Sumo – so I just packed my bags and went. Japan was a totally different culture for me, and Sumo was its own special world with its own hierarchy and even its own language. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, I didn’t know if I was going to do good, but I was determined to make the most of it. In the end it was an incredible journey and I’m excited to share it in The Giants.”

“The Giants is a very unique documentary series,” stated Teresa López, EU Content Director at Rakuten TV, “this documentary series reinforces our commitment to developing quality, free original content through our Rakuten Stories. We are strongly focusing on sports content that captures the brand’s DNA and core values of empowerment and optimism through stories that showcase the human side of sports and all the effort and determination behind greatest victories.”

J LaLonde, The Giants Director, said: “The Giants tells the story of four Hawaiian former Sumo-wrestlers, who went from being outsiders to become legends of the sport. The show is a celebration of their remarkable journeys and of one of the world’s oldest and least understood sports. We’re in the midst of shooting the show now and I can’t wait for people to get the chance to see it later this year.”

Anouk Mertens, Executive Producer of The Giants, added: “The Giants had an incredible impact on the world of Sumo and it’s a story that’s never been told. Our heroes will take us behind the curtain, to show what it took to get to the top and what life was like when they got there. From their iconic status to the historic customs, the diets and the fitness routines, viewers will learn that life as an elite Sumo athlete is unlike any other sports star on the planet.”

The Giants is a Rakuten TV original documentary series produced in collaboration with NEO Studios. It will consist of three 30-minute episodes that will be available for free and exclusively on Rakuten TV from summer 2021.

The Giants will join Rakuten Stories, the channel comprising all of Rakuten TV’s original and exclusive content of inspirational and empowering documentaries that reflect the company’s DNA, including Matchday: Inside FC Barcelona, Made in Senegal, Andrés Iniesta – The Unexpected Hero, The Secrets of La Roja – World Champions, Ride Your Dream, Eighteam, and Break Point: A Davis Cup Story. The portfolio of Rakuten Stories is included in the FREE section of the platform is available in exclusive and free of charge.