The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Moshidora

Title: Moshidora aka Moshi Koko Yakyu no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no Management o Yondara aka What if the Manageress of a High School Baseball Team had Read Drucker’s Management
Genre: Drama
Company: Production I.G./NHK Enterprises
Format: 10 episodes
Dates: 25 Apr 2011 – 6 May 2011

Synopsis: Kawashima Minami hates baseball, but she volunteers to fill in for her best friend and manager of the high school baseball team, Miyata Yuki, while Yuki is in the hospital. Looking for a book on baseball team management, Minami is mistakenly talked into buying Management by Peter Drucker, a book about business theory. The baseball team is currently in shambles, losing games it should win, lacking team cohesion and getting slack turn-outs for training sessions. However, Minami finds that some of the ideas in Drucker’s book surprisingly apply to baseball as well.

The Highlights
Premise: An aspect that many high concept works get bogged down in, but fortunately, given only as much focus is it needs here.
Philosophy: Boil it down and it’s not as complex as it’s presented.
Characters: Boring male side characters; strong and likable female leads.
Drama: Sets on with little warning; heart-breaking and moving.
Seiyuu: Hikasa Youko is surprisingly good as the main character; Hanazawa Kana is always good.

It’s amazing what a well timed, heavy dramatic punch can do for an anime, because it’s difficult to fathom how my opinion of Moshidora after watching episode 7 and my impression after the finale can be so different, but they are. What starts out as a somewhat engaging – if dry – high concept hypothetical which focuses, in a slightly gimmicky fashion, on a very basic model of management eventually turns into a tragic, heart-wrenching emotional rollercoaster. I had no issues enjoying Moshidora up to the point at which it transforms itself almost completely, even if I can grudgingly acknowledge why some viewers might find it dull and didactic, but the plot twist at the end of episode 8 turns the series from good to great.

High concept works generally focus intensely on their premises, but this often comes at the detriment of being unable to build characters that are truly sympathetic and individual. Moshidora’s premise surrounds the question of whether the theories of business expert Peter Drucker, from his 1979 book, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, could be applied to high school baseball. Honestly, I don’t think the answer matters as much as the fact that the series poses the question – some of the applications of his theories are naïve, and wouldn’t work in real life, some of the actions that lead to the team’s success don’t necessarily require Drucker’s inspiration, but, at the same time, some of the ideas are also very innovative. Ultimately, the series’ message on management and motivation boils down to “try your best and think things through,” and while it’s an obvious sentiment, it’s one worth repeating every now and then.

Where Moshidora lifts itself above the standard shortcomings of high concept anime is with its characters. While the male characters are mostly bland and a victim of the show’s high concept bent, it’s fortunately a different story for the female characters, especially the two leads, Minami and Yuki, who are coloured with very likable personalities and a decent amount of depth. Minami, in particular, is a strong lead who shoulders the story well, carrying herself with a down-to earth sense of honesty and reason. When I first read the premise, my concern was that we were going to get a naïve, hardheaded, bossy tsundere trying to fit square pegs into circular holes, so I was very relieved to instead get a genuine character who possessed emotional and logical maturity (ignoring one bout).

It’s because Moshidora has strong characters in the right places that the intensely dramatic last few episodes work so well. The way the characters behave is mostly believable and down-to-earth, and they’re much more representative of realistic people than they are of common anime archetypes. As such, the trials they go through are relatable, and their choices and behaviours are understandable. I was thoroughly impressed – moved, even – that an anime that was so contemplative and logical for the majority of its run could turn so convincingly and devastatingly into an emotion driven story in the end. Even if the first few episodes involving a high school baseball team working through on-field issues and off-field teen angst doesn’t sound like your thing, stick with it, because it eventually becomes worth it.

The Rating: 8
8/10

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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