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The Mike Toole Show - Little Pitch Academia

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Joined: 24 Sep 2010
Posts: 410
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:42 pm Reply with quote
Don't forget Taisho Baseball Girls!

Learning that baseball came to Japan in the nineteenth century explains the presence of established high school teams in that show set in the 1920s.
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Lord Geo

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 1724
Location: North Brunswick, New Jersey
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:33 pm Reply with quote
Baseball is probably the sport I have the least interest in watching in real life, because I find it so intensely boring, with so much of nothing happening in between super short stretches of actual gameplay. That being said, baseball may possibly work the best when it comes to adapting into an anime or manga, because the "boring" parts are where the storytellers are able to actually dive into the players' minds & the reader/viewer is actually allowed to see what exactly they're thinking. As Mike mentioned, One Outs is a perfect use of this time, because that series is all about how to deceive & trick the opposition to get the advantage. I still think it was stupid of CrunchyRoll to grab Akagi & Kaiji for streaming all those years ago, but ignored One Outs, likely due to the fact that it's NOT based on a Fukumoto manga, because it's seriously just as excellent as either of those shows, and pretty much had the same exact staff behind it.

When it comes to historically important baseball series, though, the one that English-speaking fandom will sadly never know much of is Team Astro (Astro Kyudan in Japan), which ran from 1972 to 1976 in Shonen Jump for 20 volumes. While Star of the Giants definitely influenced everything when it came to the dramatic, both in storytelling & visual flair, Team Astro was the manga that dug the original plot for what would become shonen action as we know it.

"Superhuman" heroes that face off against all odds, even if it means death in the middle of a baseball game? Check.
Over-the-top feats of athleticism that wouldn't be possible in real life? Check.
Having to use non-Ethereal descriptors, like those of stars, galaxies, & nebulae, to describe said feats? Check.
A never-ending supply of hot-blooded screaming that may actually still top some of today's icons? Quadruple check.

Yes, everything from Fist of the North Star to Dragon Ball to One Piece to Naruto to My Hero Academia owes a major part of their iconic styles to a baseball manga. Now, to be fair, Astro's style was so bat**** insane that it got the series cancelled in the end, because even Japanese readers could only handle so much of it. Also, everything that it did would then be refined into a more salable form by Masami Kurumada's Ring ni Kakero, which then drew the blueprint that would be fit into the plot that Team Astro dug up, and & everything after RnK would then build the framework, put up the walls, furnish the rooms, & then become the house of "Shonen Action" that Dragon Ball would take the title of.

Unfortunately, Team Astro was never made into an anime while it was running, where it definitely would become more known, & the only actual attempt to do so was in 1992 by Group TAC. Unfortunately, since baseball anime had hit a lull at that time (there hadn't been a new one on TV in a few years), & the OVA market wasn't anything like it was during the 80s, that anime never got beyond a couple of test drawings. The most Team Astro would ever get would be a live-action J-Drama/tokusatsu adaptation in 2005, complete with a short anime OP by Production I.G. (which was already being used to promote actual games on the network it aired on), though said adaptation was just as awesomely insane. Sadly, that live-action series was only fully available with English subs via DramaFever from 2009 to 2015, and next to nobody knew of its existence, so I doubt it will ever be given another chance in English.
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Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 234
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:53 pm Reply with quote
Great article!

I just want to throw a bone to one of my favorite baseball manga, Rookies by Masanori Morita. While it's story might not be the most innovative (an upbeat new teacher tries to pull together a baseball team to inspire a bunch of high school delinquents), but it's done so well, you can't help but cheer for these underdogs to get it together and make a team of themselves. (Also, Morita-sensei draws some of the best faces in all of manga! So detailed, but still comical!)

Between the struggle to sell sports series in the US and some of the coarser moments within Rookies itself, I can understand why it hasn't been localized (yet!), but if someone decides to publish and print this series, I know I'd be first in line.
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Joined: 14 Nov 2007
Posts: 1028
Location: Texas - Its like whole other country.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:57 pm Reply with quote
Love Gurazeni though it is tough to look at animation wise at times.
The crafty left handed reliever has always been a favorite of mine since rediscovering baseball after college, mainly due to Nolan Ryan joining the Texas Rangers.
Now disgraced, Mike Jeffcoat was one of my favorite pitchers from that era.

It is a refreshing view on sports, Bonda has the fire, but it is totally fueled by how much money it will get him. Pro sports careers are fleeting, and he wants to stay in the bigs and succeed, because having to earn money any way else is scary!

And he puts in effort to be effective. He is great!
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Gina Szanboti

Joined: 03 Aug 2008
Posts: 8434
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:17 pm Reply with quote
How did you write a whole article about baseball without so much as a name-check on Ace of Diamond? I'd think its 126 episodes + OVAs ought to at least get it a mention. I keep wondering if Haikyuu's success might've gotten AoD a home video license if it hadn't been for the dismal sales of Oofuri (still can't quite bring myself to use the hideously stupid Big Windup title) scaring off any licensors from even glancing at a baseball title ever again. Anyway, nothing more fun than watching Miyuki plot and scheme from behind the plate or show off at bat. Smile Oofuri was the first baseball series I saw that really highlighted the role of the catcher with Abe's careful handling of the fragile Mihashi, but Ace took it to new levels.

I was really looking forward to Gurazeni, but I dropped it after a couple of episodes. What was going on around him was really interesting, and it was nice to see a focus on adults and pro-ball for a change, but his constant internal running monologue about money, and the fact that he couldn't even say two sentences out loud in a row without mentioning money, were just too boring to continue to sit through. I got it, he's concerned about his retirement, but maybe one or two reminders an episode would've been sufficient to get the point across? It's not like it's in the freakin' title or anything. Rolling Eyes
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Joined: 28 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:19 pm Reply with quote
Baseball is not popular at all here in Brazil, but I stil managed to get a decent grasp of its rules by watching shows like Touch, One Outs, Cross Game and Ace of the Diamond. I also watched the Team Astro live-action drama 10 years ago, and Lord Geo is right about how influential that manga was. Over-the-top sports series like The Prince of Tennis and Kuroko's Basketball owe a lot to it.

Gurazeni is not as exciting as any of those, but I still enjoy its realism and its focus on the everyday life of a professional who's not a genius player. The first season was very episodic and felt like an anthology of tales that were probably inspired by real-life stories the author heard from athletes, but the second season surprised me by starting with a serialized arc about Bonda coming back from a long injury recovery just when his team has a real shot at the pennant. I'm not sure the remaining episodes will be like this, but here's hoping Bonda gets a higher-paying contract at the end.

Last edited by Zhou-BR on Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 14 Feb 2018
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:30 pm Reply with quote
Congrats on your Red Sox winning the world series . Wink
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Joined: 13 Oct 2014
Posts: 99
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:50 am Reply with quote
I was wondering. Was Princess Nine, a show which aired on NHK's satellite service in a country with low pay-TV penetration, more popular in the United States than it was in Japan?
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Joined: 18 May 2008
Posts: 213
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:58 am Reply with quote
Gurezeni seems like something that should have been successful in the American market, which generally likes stories of aging players and views baseball as the thinking man's game, but the first episode got a good bit of negative chatter (just look at the ANN preview guide).
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Joined: 07 Feb 2004
Posts: 111
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:06 am Reply with quote
I'm glad somebody likes Gurazeni too Anime smile.
Frankly, I don't care about baseball, (I read Adachi's mangas for romance and comedy), but Bonda's narration made this anime for me. Fukushi OCHIAI (seiyuu of Nonda Natsunosuke) did fantastic job.
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Joined: 09 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:34 am Reply with quote
I picked up Princess Nine on sale, and quite liked it. If you can get past the very "90s anime" aesthetics, there's a great story, there with a strong female ensemble. I recommend everyone interested check it out (as a side note, it came out the same season as Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Cardcaptor Sakura, and Lodoss War! Maybe that's why it didn't find an audience in Japan)

dm wrote:
Don't forget Taisho Baseball Girls!

This was a good one as well; the Taisho era of Japan was one i didn't really know much about, and this anime was both an interesting look at that period of time, and a solid baseball anime (though it definitely leans more into the cuteness/moe factor than Princess Nine did).
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Joined: 01 Jun 2015
Posts: 33
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:09 pm Reply with quote
I third (fourth?) Taisho Baseball Girls!!

I stopped watching Gurazeni after the third episode. Not sure why. Maybe I'll get back into watching it! =)
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Joined: 13 May 2008
Posts: 611
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:59 pm Reply with quote
I wonder if baseball is less popular in the UK because it's seen as a girl's sport? Typically at school the girls play rounders, whilst the boys play cricket. Rounders tends to be more the kind of game you play for fun in the park then ever watch on TV (whilst cricket tends to be both). Rounders being more popular then baseball here, whilst a fairly close approximation.
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