“Horse girls. They were born to run. They inherit the names of horses from another world, whose histories were sometimes tragic and sometimes wonderful, and with that, they run. That is their fate. No one knows how these horse girls’ future races will end.”
–Uma Musume Pretty Derby, Episode 1
In outlining the basic premise of the series, the opening of Uma Musume Pretty Derby raises more questions than it does answers. There are no horses, only horse girls and women. The souls/spirits of horses from another world (ours) impregnate women (it’s unclear as to whether this only happens to existing horse women or at random) who give birth to horses with predetermined names. Uma Musume mentions that their namesakes’ pasts were tragic and wonderful, but also implies that the horse girls of their world can defy these fates. Their only fate is to run.
It would be best not to think too deeply about this. Yet, because the show follows the lives of some of Japan’s most popular and successful racehorses and has, thus far, been true to most of their histories, Uma Musume offers a somewhat unique study in sports anime.