Pile of Shame

by Justin Sevakis,


When I first heard the premise behind Moshidora, which is short for a ridiculously long title that translates to, "What If the Girl Manager of a High School Baseball Team Read Drucker's 'Management?'" I believe I laughed and said, "Oh, Japan." Because really, what other response is there?

For the vast majority of people who read ANN that have never heard of Peter Drucker, let me attempt to explain. Drucker was a legendary Austrian American business professor, author and consultant who is credited with the invention of "management by objectives" -- basically, motivating teams of people by promoting their own individual goals and measuring them against those goals. His books are mandatory reading at many business schools worldwide, and one of his most widely read books, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (1973) is considered to be the bible of modern businessmen. (And by bible, I mean a book that tells you to be kind to people, and yet is cited by psychopaths who haven't read it as an excuse to do terrible things.)

Drucker is pretty popular in Japanese business as well (though I honestly have no idea how commonly his ideas are put into practice. I suppose, given that, it was only a matter of time before somebody shoehorned it into a fictitious high school setting and made it a youth-oriented tale of a team doing their best (ideally involving cute girls). Writer Natsumi Iwasaki published his novelization in 2009, aiming his book at salarymen who wanted an easily digestible, relatable story that would also count as homework: a Cliff's Notes version of Drucker. The novel became incredibly popular, and finally in 2011, NHK tapped Production I.G and Prince of Tennis director Takayuki Hamana to do a 10-episode TV adaptation.

The show starts with Minami, who has a grudge against baseball (she wanted to be a professional as a kid, only to have her dreams dashed by the lack of a women's league), visiting her friend Miki in the hospital. Wanting to help out her friend in any way she can while she recuperates, Minami grudgingly accepts responsibility for managing the school baseball team. Not knowing anything about managing a team, she stops by the local bookstore and asks for a book about management. And the bookstore points her to Drucker's Management.

She buys it and takes it home, not really realizing at first that it's for businessmen. Its advice, however, seems to apply to her team: a ramshackle affair that, despite the best efforts of their coach, just can't seem to play well together. At the center of it all is Asano, a seemingly-arrogant ace pitcher who's frustrated that the coach keeps pulling him off the mound near the end of the game. As it turns out, his pitching quality takes a nosedive after he throws around 100 pitches, but he seems unaware of this, and communication isn't the coach's strong suit.

Similar puzzles are to be found in other members of the team, including one member ditching practice as a form of passive-aggressive protest against how things are being run, and the overly quiet co-manager who just can't seem to come out of her shell. With Drucker's techniques at her back, Minami works to come up with new strategies to keep the players engaged and happy, and maybe even win some games.

The show is pretty much what you'd expect of a low-budget digipaint TV sports anime: brightly colored, somewhat artless in its layout and limited in its animation. The musical score made me laugh a couple of times, as one of its background themes is a pretty clear rip-off of an old Enya song. Nobody on the production seems to be trying very hard, least of all series writer Jun'ichi Fujisaku, who seems to run out of story in the final few episodes and starts to stretch too little into way too long a running time. But at the same time, there's little to find fault with: while not noteworthy, the series is passable, if nothing more.

The anime adaptation was clearly the result of a coordinated all-media marketing effort at the time. Debuting in April 2011, the show was preceded by a manga adaptation that began running in the seinen magazine Super Jump that January. A month after the TV series ended its run, a live action feature film, starring AKB48's Atsuko Maeda opened in Japanese theaters and did pretty well at the box office. I haven't seen either of those. I can't imagine there's too much to the story I'd be missing at this point. As for the US market, nobody even bothered simulcasting the show, and two years later, it remains unlicensed and unloved.

I have to say, I did enjoy Moshidora. I'm a sucker for decently written sports shows, and while this is nowhere near the best of the genre, it's a fun, educational time-waster. Drucker's tips are good ones, and possibly as applicable to daily life outside the office as the show suggests. I really never need to see it again, however. I prefer to think that the most interesting part of the show isn't the story itself, but the novelty of its very existence. After all, what other country would try to turn a business management textbook into a high school sports story, and be so incredibly predictable in both form and execution? Ah, Japan.

Japanese Name: もし高校野球の女子マネージャーがドラッカーの『マネジメント』を読んだら (Moshi Kōkō Yakyū no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no "Management" o Yondara)

Media Type: TV Series

Length: 10 x 25 min.

Vintage: 2011

Genres: Seinen, sports, business, baseball, drama

Availability (Japan): Typically expensive un-subtitled DVDs and Blu-rays came out a couple of years ago, and are still in print.

Availability (English): No company would ever spend money on this. Fansubs are all we've got.

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