Cover Art for the Blu-Rays

Cover Art for the Blu-Rays

Taisho Baseball Girls (Taisho Yakyu Musume) has a lot going for it, but most of all it is simply a lot of fun to watch. I really was laughing out loud in places. Some spoilers and many snarky footnotes ahead.

The Setup

Taisho Baseball Girls is set in 1925, which was a period of some upheaval in Japan. This is when the iconic “sailor” school uniforms were being introduced into Japan, against some social resistance.

It is in this setting that a junior high school baseball player tells his 14 year old betrothed Akiko Ogasawara [1] that women can’t play baseball and that women should stay in the home to cook and clean.

Akiko is… unimpressed [2], and her determination to prove him wrong kicks the story into action.

As it says on the cover of the Sentai Filmworks blu-ray: It’s not whether they win or lose. It’s whether they’ll be allowed to play the game.

To get things started Akiko rather sneakily lures the more plebeian [3] Koume Suzukawa into her scheme, and this quickly gives rise to an unlikely friendship that carries the series. I did wonder how much of Koume’s initial willingness was envy of the sailor uniform that Akiko is allowed to wear.

Koume is really the lead character for Taisho Baseball Girls¸ and is usually a lot of fun to watch [4].

The Oukakai

Together Akiko and Koume recruit a team, and form an unofficial club at their private girls’ school called the Oukakai. The club is unofficial because whilst the headmistress is opposed, the chancellor supports it with conditions.

This is but one of the many places where resistance to girls playing baseball comes up in the series. It pops up at school, it pops up in the general attitudes towards the girls, and most of the girls very carefully don’t tell their parents what’s going on [5].

The exception being Koume who does manage to keep her parents (mostly) in the dark, but not without raising their suspicions in entirely the wrong direction. As I rapidly came to expect from Taisho Baseball Girls, hilarity ensues particularly in episode 9 A Restaurant Full of Misunderstandings.

The supporting cast in the Oukakai are well realised as characters, and generally add to the fun. Tomoe’s crush on Koume probably generates the most mayhem and hilarity.

The Realism

There have been any number of sports anime that skip over the hard realities of sport and training [6].

Taisho Baseball Girls isn’t one of those shows.

There have been any number of sports anime where the Underdogs Never Lose [7].

Taisho Baseball Girls isn’t one of those shows.

After a crushing defeat in a practice match the Oukakai have to work to improve, and it takes them a long time to get there. Along the way they have to face a string of defeats to elementary school boys whilst they get their act together.

Not to mention being made to run by their conveniently American baseball expert (and homeroom teacher) Anna Curtland in order to build their endurance.

And run.

And run.

And then run some more!

The girls’ reaction to this is hilarious, even going so far as to recruit a sprinter into the team so as to reduce the amount of running they have to do [8].

The group reactions are funny enough but the running gag [9] of an exhausted Koume staggering through her family’s restaurant never got old. This was partly because of how it tied into her parents’ suspicions.

The thing is, win or lose, by the final game the Oukakai earn respect as serious players and my suspension of disbelief never twinged once.

The Romance

There’s a little romance in this show, but it isn’t overdone and is mostly within the confines of the arranged betrothals that pop up. I did find the arranged betrothals for 14 year olds to be a bit confronting to modern sensibilities, but it does feel natural in context of the setting.

The Miscellaneous

The Sentai Filmworks Blu-Rays are quite nicely done, and include the clean opening and closing. Both are quite a lot of fun, and are good additions.

There are also apparently two 5 minute specials that aren’t included in this set. I’m not sure if these have ever been translated.

There is little to no fanservice, which was a veritable relief given some of the shows that I’m currently watching [10].

The Verdict

Taisho Baseball Girls is simply fun, and funny, to watch without any real negatives.

There are clever characters, a look at an era rarely seen in anime, a believable story supported by good writing and voice acting, and an ending that made me cheer for what these girls managed to achieve by strength and friendship.

Taisho Baseball Girls is definitely recommended, Needs More Love, and more than makes up for the disappointment of the AKB0048 blu-rays [11].

[1] Arranged marriages were a feature of the times, and this isn’t the only example.

[2] You may insert your own expletives as needed, but an ojou like Akiko would obviously never stoop to such.

[3] Koume’s family runs a restaurant, and Koume is often seen working there.

[4] To a certain extent all of the characters are fun to watch, but it really is Koume who makes Taisho Baseball Girls sing.

[5] This, inevitably, becomes a plot point for both Akiko and Koume at the worst possible moments.

[7] Ditto.

[8] It doesn’t help. It just means that poor Kochou the sprinter has to run as well.

[9] Yes, I really did just go there. You can groan now.

[10] Strike the Blood, Nobunagun, and The Pilot’s Love Song are all offenders to greater or lesser extent.

[11] No, I’m not getting over that any time soon. By my calculations there are a couple of AKB0048 episodes that would be less than 50% subtitled.

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