”Moonlight Densetsu” plays while rhythmic gymnastics team performs dressed as anime’s most famous magical girl.

Rhythmic gymnastics is one of those athletic fields that doesn’t get a lot of coverage outside the Olympics. Sure, there’s an undeniable athleticism and artistry to the sport, but the average TV viewer might be confused when a gymnastics floor routine has such unfamiliar apparatuses as balls, a hoop, and bowling pin-like clubs literally tossed into it.

But when the Uzbekistani team took the floor at the Tokyo Olympics there was something instantly familiar even to those who’d never watched rhythmic gymnastics before, as long as they’d watched anime.

▼ The Uzbekistani rhythmic gymnastics team pictured, at top left.

The design and color pattern of the team’s uniforms immediately bring to mind Japanese animation’s most famous magical girl, Sailor Moon. This wasn’t a coincidence or inspiration from a generic sailor suit/school uniform, either, as the team performed to an instrumental version of “Moonlight Densetsu”/”Moonlight Legend,” the iconic original opening theme to the Sailor Moon TV anime.

Japan is always happy when overseas visitors show an active interest in its culture, and the choice of attire and musical accompaniment prompted comments online including:

“I’m so happy that they dressed as Sailor Moon! They showed so much love for Japan.”
“I want to tell them thank-you from the bottom of my heart.”
“As a Sailor Moon fan, I got so pumped up watching their routine!”
“Seeing them adopt a part of Japanese culture like this makes me so happy. I hope someone will tell them how grateful we are.”

▼ If the rules didn’t require team members’ uniforms to match, they could have color-coordinated as the Inner Sailor Senshi.

Following their ball routine on the first day of the competition, the Uzbekistani team was in fifth place, but they slipping in the standings on Day 2 when working with hoops and clubs, eventually finishing in ninth. But while they didn’t pick up a medal in Tokyo, they did pick up plenty of new fans in what’s turned out to be the most musically anime-inspired Olympics ever.

Sources: Sponichi Annex via Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko, Twitter, Twitter/@gorin , Instagram/gorin
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