Four minutes into a late-September match in Osaka, with her arms tight around Jungle Kyona’s legs, Himeka bends backward. It’s not the Boston Crab itself that grabs your attention but her twisted, cartoonish expression as she applies the hold. Her eyes point off to one side. Her mouth curls downward as if being tugged by a fishhook. She tilts her head back and bellows.
The image is part angry animal, part Dick Tracy villain.
It’s but a moment in a 15-minute draw, but one that encapsulates Himeka’s greatest asset – her exaggerated, memorable, emphatic facial expressions. Much in the way Steve Carell’s eyes powered his performances as Michael Scott in The Office, the STARDOM wrestler’s ever-shifting face elevates everything she does in the ring.
Himeka stands out before she even starts reaching her into bag of facial tricks as we saw the instant that she signed with STARDOM last summer.
She’s taller than her peers. Her shoulders are broader. Her in-ring style is heavy on “plow you over”. Hence her “Jumbo” nickname and “Big is Justice. Big is Cute” motto.
The current co-holder (alongside Maika) of the Goddess of Stardom Championship is impressively strong. She’s hoisted two foes above her shoulder at once. She flings opponents around. Even in Donna Del Mundo, a faction packed full of badass, hard-hitting women, she’s emerged as the enforcer.
Himeka’s most powerful muscles, though, may be the 42 in her chameleon-like face.
When the Donna Del Mondo crew pose in the ring together, leader Giulia usually stands in front hauling in much of the attention. Himeka is poised in the back, stoic with a touch of a smirk, her tough-guy intensity softened by her undeniable likability. You may miss the duality of her expression at first, but eventually one’s eyes veer toward her ever-changing, ever-colorful face.
Watch Himeka as she carries Saya Kamitani and Utami Hayashishita from Queen’s Quest on her back like a stack of bodies bent in her grip. She looks all at once amused, delighted, mischievous.
Look at her when she is on the attack, ready to clock Utami with a forearm. Her eyes widen. A scream rips from her lungs. Aggression, intensity – a palpable wildness color her face.
See Himeka slide from fury to fun as she picks up stablemate Natsupoi. Suddenly, the enraged predator is a charming goofball.
This version of her has lovable sidekick energy. This is the Himeka you half expect to burst into a song about friendship.
But that Himeka variant is temporary. As they all are. She goes from thrilled to terrified, snarling to snickering with the deftness of a rabbit zigzagging from its prey.
In a single match, she shows as many faces as Man-E-Faces from He-Man.
To fully appreciate her matches and her personality, try to blink as little as possible. If you look away for a second, you might miss her prowling in the background as her fellow DDM member Syuri goes for a pin, Himeka howling in pure glee, a tear laugh emoji come to life.
This ability to wholly embrace an emotion and beam it from her face makes her among the most intriguing prospects in DDM and STARDOM as a whole.
When she laughs after smashing cake into her buddy Giulia’s face, it’s with her whole being. When she clamps on a hold and screams, the sound is primal, the emotion culled from deep within her.
Himeka’s going to be a star because she brings it in the ring. She’s going to succeed because she is awash with likability. But her trump card over the rest of the talented STARDOM roster is her ability to flash fresh expressions in an instant like an archer firing off arrows.
Actor Marlon Brando once said, “We only have so many faces in our pockets.” Brando, of course, never met Himeka, whose inventory of faces apparently knows no limit.