One of the primary promotional elements of the soon-to-conclude Tokyo Olympics has been its pop culture, from its videogames to its manga and anime. Manga artists created visuals for the Games’ reference material. Videogame music was used during the parade of nations at the Opening Ceremony. If not for the pandemic severely limiting the number of people who could watch the events, there might have been more poppy stuff the organizers could throw at them. But it is not all the Olympics throwing anime references throughout the Games period. Even the Olympians themselves are making anime gestures that have since gone viral on social media.
Comic Book Resources has the rather unusual but fun story of Olympic athletes sending up famous Japanese manga and anime “One Piece” as they compete in their respective sporting events. Both took place during the track and field portions of the Games. First it was a Greek long jumper; then it was an American shot putter. As they took their spot to compete they did poses that would have made zero sense to any non-anime fan, but would have rung bells for those who follow “One Piece.” Footage of both Olympians has since gone viral.
First, Miltiades Tentoglou of Greece got things rolling during the men’s long jump finals on August 2. When he came out during the presentation, standing before a screen displaying his national flag, he bent down and forced his left fist into the ground. Tentoglou would then jump to a Gold medal. In post-even interviews he was asked about his unusual gesture, and he confirmed what watching anime fans realized when he mentioned the main character of “One Piece,” Luffy, and how he copied the “Gear Second” power-up that the character does in the anime series.
This past Thursday, August 5 during the men’s shot put final, American shot putter Payton Otterdahl did his own “One Piece” homage. Like Tentoglou, Otterdahl stood in front of a US flag display. Then he raised his hands diagonally and clinked his forearms together while mouthing “Super!” This was the signature pose and catchphrase of Franky, a crewmate of Luffy in the Straw Hat Pirates. Not only did Otterdahl’s stunt excite anime social media (though he only placed 10th), it also caught the attention of the staff of mangaka Eiichiro Oda, creator of “One Piece,” and they commented on it on their official Twitter page.
Image courtesy of Twitter