The Anime and Video Game Hype at the Tokyo Olympics


Japan is home to some of the most active and vibrant cultures in the world, and the displays they have put up at the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics manage to portray that vividly. 

The Land of the Rising Sun is also known to be the home of anime and manga, as well as the host for progenitor video game companies like SEGA and CAPCOM.

Right from the opening ceremony, Japan brought a twist to the famous parade by orchestrating it with a medley of video game soundtracks and mascots. The parade rolled out with the main theme from Dragon Quest, followed by hits from Monster Hunter, Nier, Chrono Trigger and eFootball (the new name for Pro Evolution Soccer).

The parade also included Final Fantasy's famous title "Victory Flare", the song that plays when a player wins an encounter. The Olympics also featured Sonic in the parade, showcasing "Star Light Zone" from the original Sonic the Hedgehog.

The opening ceremony also featured one of Naruto's theme songs, "Blue Bird."

Although the Olympics missed famous Nintendo titles like Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon (so far), and old school hits such as Pac-Man and Asteroids, it is safe to say the opening parade was a huge banger.

Coming to the games itself, Haikyu!! fans were treated to the anime's first opening theme, SPYAIR's "Imagination'" during the Japan vs. Venezuela volleyball game, making the whole stadium seem like an episode of the famous anime for a moment.

During the archery contest between Indonesia and the USA, the hosts played the opening theme of the critically acclaimed Attack on Titan, "Guren No Yumiya", which translates to "Crimson Bow and Arrow", hyping up the silent venue and releasing endorphins for the sport. 

One reference that probably created the most hype was Dutch windsurfer Kiran Badloe who donned a hairstyle akin to Aang from Avatar, as a tribute to the last airbender.

The Aomi Urban Sports Park saw the entrance of the Japanese team in the 3x3 women's basketball event with the famous anime Slam Dunk opening "Suki da to Sakebitai" running in the background. 

Mexican gymnast Alex Moreno performed her floor routine and showed her love for anime music with the epic "Demon Slaying Corps" OST from Demon Slayer.

At the men's artistic gymnastics competition, fans got to hear the Tokyo Revengers' anime opening "Cry Baby." On the first day of the Olympics, Ghost in the Shell OST "Making Of A Cyborg" was played before the start of the under-48 kg women's judo finals between Kosovo and Japan. 

Besides anime and video games, the Tokyo Olympics also saw a lot of K-pop music including songs from fan-favourite groups such as BTS, EXO, and Blackpink.

The Olympics have always been a symbol of the host country's heritage and tradition. However, very few expected the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to include cultural elements completely aligning with the taste of the new generation. Whoever thought that they would include video game soundtracks in the Olympic parade, instead of traditional Japanese court music?

The list is endless, as the Tokyo Olympics organisers ensured the athletes and sporting events were bejeweled with elements from their own culture and heritage. On a personal note, hearing an AOT opening in an Olympic level archery event felt pretty good.