We've been saying for years that sumo wrestling is basically the same as Pokémon, except with more consent and less catching-your-defeated-foe-in-a-ball. Now, finally, the two are becoming one, as The Pokémon Company is becoming an official sponsor of sumo wrestling, in partnership with the Nihon Sumo Kyokai (H/T Kotaku for the translation).
As part of the collaboration, The Pokémon Company is sponsoring several kensho banners, which are paraded around the sumo wrestling ring before a match. The banners will feature well-known Pokémon, from Pikachu to Makuhita, whose design is based on sumo wrestlers. There will be 200 different banners in total.
In an explainer by John Gunning for Japan Times, they say that kensho banners are representations of the prize money staked on matches by corporate sponsors, and each one costs ¥62,000 ($545, or £400) to buy. Roughly 90 per cent of that goes to the winner, with half of it received immediately after the fight, and the other half going straight into a retirement fund.
The Pokémon kensho banners will appear in tournaments in November, and in January, sumo wrestlers will also be sporting Pokémon-themed kesho-mawashi, the ceremonial aprons worn during the ring entering ceremony.