Anime X Kendama! 10 Kendama Appearances in Japanese Animation

Anime X Kendama! 10 Kendama Appearances in Japanese Animation


Kendama is a skill game with historic roots in Japan, so it’s no surprise if you find yourself enjoying Japanese animation, known more commonly as Anime, and you spot one painted into the scene, or even notice a character who uses one.

Over the decades that anime has been produced, there’s been plenty of cameos that kendama made, both in older, more traditionally Japanese family shows, as well as currently running, internationally popularized mainstream series. Below, we’ve collected ten anime series, new and old, popular and obscure, wherein kendama has made an appearance.

Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z was a gateway into anime for many westerners, airing on Toonami to American audiences between 1998 and 2008. In Episode 41, “Look Out Below”, there’s a kendama that is easy to miss if you’re not paying close attention, but contains one of the key items that the show’s characters are searching for. 


While stranded on what they believe to be Planet Namek, Bulma, Krillin, and Gohan, three of the show’s protagonists, begin searching for any Dragon Balls that could possibly be on the planet. The second Dragon Ball they find is lodged in the teeth of a skeleton within a sarcophagus, which upon realizing this, Bulma shrieks. The camera then pans out from their location, showing for just a moment that the group had delved below a massive statue of a kendama, ken standing tall and the ball resting alongside.

The kendama-shaped statue doesn’t make any more appearances in the episode, nor do they mention it. It’s a hidden kendama cameo in a classic show that many of us grew up watching, but never noticed until later!

Dagashi Kashi

Contrary to the aforementioned Dragon Ball Z series and its action-theming, Dagashi Kashi is altogether an entirely different watching experience and falls into the comedy, gourmet, and slice of life genres. The show also runs a brief 2 seasons of 24 episodes in total, and the moment we’re mentioning today is included in Episode 8.

In the clip shown above, Saya Endō picks up a kendama off the ground, immediately reminded of her time playing one during childhood, and proceeds to blow her friends away with her skills, catching and clacking so quickly that the kendama blurs from the speed.

This scene in the anime is from Chapter 32 in the manga of Dagashi Kashi, titled, “32nd Sweet: Kendama”, an entire section dedicated to the characters playing kendama! This chapter is definitely worth reading for that alone.

One Punch Man

In the extremely popular series, One Punch Man, there are heroes and villains of all types with a vast range of powers and abilities. One such notable character is Class A, Rank 27 hero, Smile Man.

Smile Man is a calm and collected hero that wields a giant kendama as his primary weapon and excels at mid-range combat. All of his signature attacks and techniques are based on kendama tricks, like “Rage Around The World” from the classic Around the World combination, and “Earth Rotation of Doom” inspired by an Earth Turn. His two brothers also happen to be lower-ranked heroes who wield other toys as weapons. Unfortunately for Smile Man, however, his abilities just aren't enough to take on Garou in the following fight scene, even with several heroes alongside him.

Pokémon: Diamond & Pearl

Pokémon Diamond & Pearl is the tenth season of the internationally popular anime series, and in Episode 47 of the season, “Sandshrew’s Locker”, a kendama can be spotted for a brief moment.


Within the episode, the protagonists work to help their new friend, Mira (pictured), become reunited with her Sandshrew, a type of pokémon. After struggling against Team Rocket, the show’s comedic antagonists, they finally locate a Pokéball in Mira’s old hiding spot along with a kendama, floating upwards into the water alongside other items.

While no one plays kendama in the episode, it’s really cool to see kendama shown in such a popular and classic show!

Crayon Shin-Chan

Crayon Shin-Chan is a children’s anime that began running on Japanese television in 1992 and still airs to this day. The show follows the adventures and wacky antics of five-year-old Shinnosuke “Shin” Nohara along with his family and friends.

Kendama makes appearances several times throughout the entire series, but one of our favorite episodes is when Shin battles the Kendama monster, a dinosaur-looking creature with cups for a head and a ball attached by a string.

MÄR - 

Märchen Awakens Romance, abbreviated as MÄR, is a series wherein the main character, Ginta Toramizu, uses a kendama as his primary weapon. On top of that, the kendama has a name, thoughts, and feelings!

Babbo is a unique kendama/weapon that the show refers to as an “ÄRM” and essentially serves as Ginta’s sidekick as well as his weapon. Being the only ÄRM with a soul, he’s known for his oversized ego and often refers to himself as a "gentleman" in the English dub of the series.

MÄR is an older show, running between 2003-2006, but if you love kendama, it’s worth checking out.

A Certain Scientific Railgun T

A Certain Scientific Railgun T is the third season of the adventure and science fiction animated series, A Certain Scientific Railgun, based on the manga of the same name.

In Episode 18, “Bust Upper”, the character named Saten squares off in front of Mikoto to demonstrate her kendama skills she gained from a game of Blind Man’s Bluff, a modified version of Poker. She perches the tama in a Bird position before landing an impressive combination that finishes behind the back, to which Mikoto politely claps for her. This clip has been circulating through the kendama community for a while, even brought to life in the below clip from Yutaro Fukushima, a kendama performer and Japan Kendama Association Instructor.

@yuudama1210 アニメ完全再現(アレンジしちゃった)#けん玉 #kendama #ゆーだま ♬ オリジナル楽曲 - ゆーだま⚔️🍊(けん玉パフォーマー)

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is a post-apocalyptic, fantasy/steampunk series that ran for a single season in 2016. It’s a dark and gritty show that you might not expect to see a kendama portrayed within.

One major female protagonist, Mumei, can be seen from time to time throughout the show playing a classic red-balled kendama while conversing with other survivors.


Yatterman (Yattaman) is another classic animated children’s series, originally running for the first time in 1977. A comedy/science fiction blend, the show depicts Gan and Ai as Yatterman-1 and Yatterman-2, a fighting team who’s goal is to stop the Doronbo gang from acquiring and assembling the Skull Stones to locate the world’s largest gold deposits.

Gan, Yatterman-1, is an expert mechanic who uses a kendama as his weapon throughout the series which can be played, but is also used as a flail, a grappling hook, and even a special zapping attack, “Kenda-Magic”. This series has seen a lot of love over the decades from Japanese audiences, being remade in 2008, as well as a full length live action film in 2009.

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V

“Yu-Gi-Oh!” is another classic series with international popularity and success, running on television since 1996, the plot being centered around a trading card game, mysterious magical items, and their connections to the “Shadow Realm”, an alternative dark dimension to which a person’s soul or mind could be sent. ARC-V is the fourth main spin-off series that originally aired between 2014 and 2017.

In Episode 37 during the duel between Yuto & Yugo, Yugo summons a “Hi-Speedroid Kendama” into play by combining other monsters into the kendama creature/card. The object flies alongside Yugo and looks somewhat like a spaceship, doing damage to Yuto whenever Yugo sends a specific card to the “graveyard”, the game’s name for the discard pile. 

While this isn’t your typical kendama cameo, we love to see kendama used as the inspiration behind this card. You can even add this card to your own deck if you play Yu-Gi-Oh!; it can be found in a list of several booster packs that were circulated during that time.


How many of these moments did you know about? Seeing these moments surprised us the first time we saw them, and we hope they surprised you too!


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