The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Taisho Yakyuu Musume

Title: Taisho Yakyuu Musume aka Taisho Baseball Girls
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 2 Jul 2009 – 24 Sep 2009

Synopsis: As a high school student living in 1920s Japan, Suzukawa Koume wishes that her parents would allow her to dress in Western attire and be freer of the constraints that society has placed upon women living during that period. Opportunity strikes when her best friend Ogasawara Akiko persuades Koume to help her start a baseball team as a means of getting back at her fiancee for saying that women should serve a domestic function only. With that, it falls upon Koume and Akiko to encourage the rest of the girls at the school to join and show that even women can excel at a sport like baseball.

The Highlights
Characters: All enjoyable, though some are more developed than others.
First five minutes: A segment so adorable that you will want to play it over and over.
Casting: Star-studded seiyuu deliver a solid performance.
Music: Hattori Takayuki‘s orchestral compositions fit in well.
Ending: Plays it safely and predictably but is nevertheless heartwarming.

As the sports genre becomes increasingly saturated, steps need to be taken by the creators to come up with a fresh twist and Taisho Baseball Girls does that through a story that focuses on the theme of female empowerment as it depicts the all-girls baseball team’s struggle to compete on equal footing against their male counterparts. That the setting takes place during the 14th year of Japan’s Taisho era (1925) means that these girls have societal preconceptions about the role of women set against them. Whether their idea of playing baseball was sprung at the right moment in a community with progressive-minded people in the right places or we are allowed to believe that people’s attitudes can change that quickly, Taisho Baseball Girls executes its premise in an adept and charming manner while retaining the tried and true aspects of the sports genre.

It is this last point that makes watching Taisho Baseball Girls an uplifting experience. The attitudes that were prevalent during that time period already provide a formidable obstacle, but the girls must also contend with their apparent lack of athleticism. In spite of these challenges, the girls persist on, training and taking their lumps all the while, and though there are moments in which morale flags, they do not slump off in defeat. The amount of work and effort that they put into learning how to play baseball endears them to the audience. I was particularly touched by Koume’s determined words early on when she speaks on behalf of the team and tells a member of the opposing team why she and her teammates are playing baseball and what she hopes to get out of the experience. Such a declaration might not have made much of an impression in any other sports anime, but when one keeps the setting in mind, it is difficult not to want to cheer the girls on after hearing that speech.

It also does not hurt that the characters are charming and are voiced by an excellent group of seiyuu. Kanae Itou does an excellent job of bringing forth Koume’s earnest attitude and Nakahara Mai handles Akiko’s character well as she attempts to hide her temperamental side in vain behind the composure expected of the members of the upper class. Souya Yuki’s (voiced by Noto Mamiko) easygoing, enthusiastic approach mixed with Ishigaki Tamaki’s (voiced by Hirohashi Ryou) serious tendencies that get easily rattled make for a wonderful dynamic as the two are able to find happiness in being able to play a sport that they had played as little girls, and until recently, felt that they would never be given an opportunity to play anymore because of societal expectations. The other girls also have their reasons for wanting to play and seeing all of these players with disparate motivations come together to form that cohesive unit works in winning the audience over through their charm as they strive towards victory.

The twelve-episode format requires that the plot move along at a good clip, and though the occasional moment of filler pops up now and then, Taisho Baseball Girls manages to cover the scope of the plot while sprinkling in small doses of comedy that add to the enjoyment. While the ending is fairly predictable, its goal is to leave you feeling good afterwards and the anime succeeds in delivering that heartwarming conclusion to show that through persistence and hard work, the girls’ efforts can move something as massive as societal expectations.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: zzeroparticle

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