Shōjo Manga Predicted 2018's Japanese High School Baseball Championship 34 Years Ago
posted on by Jennifer Sherman
The astute Twitter user @violinebleue noticed this week that an obscure manga from 34 years ago seems to have predicted the outcome of this year's Japanese High School Baseball Championship. Osaka Prefecture's Osaka Toin High School made a final victory over Akita Prefectural Kanaashi Agricultural High School in the final game of the tournament on Tuesday, a scenario that for the losing team has many similarities to a manga.
The Japanese High School Baseball Championship, commonly known as Kōshien as a nod to its stadium, is held every year in the summer. The tournament is a hugely popular sporting event televised nationally, and households throughout Japan track the progress of the games.
Izumi Kawahara's Kōshien no Sora ni Warae! (Laugh at the Sky at Kōshien!) baseball manga serialized in Hakusensha's Hana to Yume magazine in 1984. Hakusensha released one compiled book volume for the series. The series' story centers on a new teacher who is in charge of a rural high school baseball team, despite a complete lack of knowledge and experience. The team wants to move past the first match of the prefectural preliminaries in the national tournament.
Hailing from rural northern Japan, Akita Prefectural Kanaashi Agricultural High School was previously plagued by a series of defeats in the first game of the Kōshien preliminaries for 13 years. The local government recently started an initiative to boost the success of prefectural high school teams in Akita, and the program showed its success as Akita Prefectural Kanaashi Agricultural High School reached the finals this year. A team from Akita Prefecture had not reached the finals since 1915, the year Kōshien began.
The story of the underdog team in Kawahara's manga is uncannily similar to Akita Prefectural Kanaashi Agricultural High School's experiences at Kōshien. The similarities between the team in the manga and the real-world team include:
- Status as an unknown regional agricultural high school
- Lack of funds to pay for hotel expenses at the finals, causing the team to rely on donations from locals
- Support performances from an orchestra due to lack of a brass band at the school
- Status of the opposing team in the finals as a well-known urban high school with previous overall wins
- Team members' strong legs due to agricultural experiences
- Lack of a second-string pitcher
- Match developments in the finals, including the leading points and a home run reversal
- Competing in the finals against the biggest favorite to win
- Finishing as runner-up
Many net commenters are amazed at the similarities between this year's Kōshien and Kawahara's manga. The initial Twitter post of @violinebleue has been retweeted about 20,000 times and liked more than 32,000 times. The similarities have left some online commenters wondering if Kawahara is a "prognosticator."