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Japanese Baseball Movies?

Discussion in the Ask the Commish forum
Japanese Baseball Movies?
It occurred to me recently that there must be a Japanese equivalent of "Pride of the Yankees," "Bull Durham," or "Field of Dreams." Is there? Given that the Japanese love movies and baseball, much like Americans, I find it hard to believe someone wouldn't have combined the two by now.

Thanks in advance for any info you can provide on the subject.

Dave Mendonca
Eugene, OR
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: mijow | Posted: Mar 2, 2007 8:19 PM | HT Fan ]

Well there's the 2002 movie "Mr. Rookie" - starring Kazushige Nagashima (son of the Yomiuri Giants legend) who helps Hanshin win a long-overdue pennant.

You'll find a synopsis here.

The movie features some real ballplayers too - the Tigers even bring on Randy Bass to pinch hit at one point. I was at Koshien as part of the crowd the night they filmed that - it took him something like seven or eight attempts to hit a home run for the cameras.
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: mijow | Posted: Mar 3, 2007 7:20 AM | HT Fan ]

My post may have been a little misleading - as if to say Kazushige wasn't a real ball player. Well he was - at least for a short period, with the Yakult Swallows and Yomiuri Giants.
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: Animaru Resulie | Posted: Mar 3, 2007 5:06 PM | HT Fan ]

I think that in Japan the popular medium vehicle for dramatizing sports has been more in the area of manga (comics), anime (animation), and TV shows rather than movies. There are just tons and tons of baseball-related comics such as the famous "Kyojin-no-Hoshi" (Star of the Giants), "Dokaben," and "Yakyukyo-no-Uta" (A Song for Baseball Maniacs), just to name a few. Some of these manga were actually made into movies, although I don't think they did very well in the box office. Nevertheless, the original baseball manga are considered to be classics in postwar Japanese pop-culture in the same manner as, say, "Pride of the Yankees."

This may be because, only until recently, it just hasn't been profitable to make Japanese movies. This makes film production companies much more risk-averse than in the States, and their thinking would be that the average sports fan probably didn't go to the movies a lot, so why bother. If sports fans in Japan had extra cash on hand (which is in itself unlikely), they'd probably spend it on beer and manga (like me, ha, ha) rather than a Sunday matinee. So this may have lead to the proliferation of sports-oriented comic books, not only on baseball but about judo ("Judo-Icchokusen" = All for Judo), soccer ("Captain Tsubasa") and even women's tennis ("Eisu-wo-Nerae" = Go for the Ace) and women's volleyball ("Attack No. 1") as well. But even though they're just manga, they're considered cultural masterpieces all the same.

An article in Wikipedia in Japanese (here) lists the major dramatic Japanese works featuring baseball. The article names about eleven significant Japanese baseball movies. Compare this with the number of baseball manga titles in the article, which tops three hundred. In this sense, sports manga in Japan are the equivalent of sports movies in the States.

And they're really off the wall. Just type in "dokaben" or "kyojin-no-hoshi" in the search box on YouTube and take a look. Talk about extreme sports.
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: Guest: Dave Mendonca | Posted: Mar 4, 2007 2:17 AM ]

Thanks so much for both responses.

Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Mar 4, 2007 7:32 AM | NIP Fan ]

Yeah, while "Mr. Rookie" and "Mr. Baseball" popped into my head for movies with Japanese baseball offhand, I could think of a lot more manga and TV shows, or in some cases, manga that were adapted into TV shows and/or movies (with real people, not animated). Adachi Mitsuru's "H2" was made into a fantastic TV dorama in 2005, and "Touch" was made into a movie. And then there were sort of baseball-related TV doramas like "Kisarazu Cat's Eye," "Wonderful Life," etc.

There's actually been a movement lately to make more TV doramas out of sports manga ("Ace wo Nerae" had a TV series in 2004, and "Attack No. 1" in 2005, both starring Ueto Aya), so maybe more of the baseball ones will come along? I dunno.
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: mijow | Posted: Mar 5, 2007 12:39 AM | HT Fan ]

- There's actually been a movement lately to make more TV doramas out of sports manga ...

And I know of a certain former Hanshin/Nippon-Ham player who would probably be first in line to star in one of those.
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: Animaru Resulie | Posted: Mar 5, 2007 4:06 PM | HT Fan ]

"Tigers-no-Uchujin (Spaceman of the Tigers)"?
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Mar 6, 2007 5:07 AM | NIP Fan ]

I think he should probably stick to things like SMAPxSMAP.
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: Guest: JR | Posted: Mar 10, 2007 11:41 AM ]

The only reason to watch "Mr. Rookie" is to marvel at how Kazushige is just a bad an actor as he was baseball player.

Although I don't know of any good Japanese baseball movies, what is highly recommended is the new documentary "Koko Yakyu," which focuses on the Koshien Tournament for high school baseball. It can be found on
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: mijow | Posted: Mar 10, 2007 3:34 PM | HT Fan ]

- The only reason to watch "Mr. Rookie" is to marvel at how Kazushige is just a bad an actor as he was baseball player.

Yes, I agree Kazushige is pretty wooden, but I suppose you could say the same of most ball players who turn to acting. Come to think of it, some say Kevin Costner isn't exactly a great actor either, but he's never even played pro baseball, so he has no excuse.

Anyway, Mr. Rookie was actually very popular when it was released. Remember, it was the year before that fabulous 2003 season, so Tiger fans came out in droves to see it. Some were crying tears of joy in their popcorn after Hiyama, I think it was, made the final out to clinch the pennant.
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: Sole_SL | Posted: Mar 27, 2007 7:31 AM | SL Fan ]

Seen Koko Yakyu on Youtube. Check this link out.
Re: Japanese Baseball Movies?
[ Author: Guest: Bill Abbott | Posted: Aug 14, 2012 5:38 PM ]

I realize that this is an old thread, but I just need to add this.

I'm trying to find out more about a Japanese movie about a Japanese baseball player. More than 30 years ago, 1981, I saw the end of this movie, on my hotel room TV, at the Danrokan Hotel, in Kofu, Yamanashi Preficture.

In the movie, from where I started watching, the player is a military officer, trying to get back to his base in the dangerous chaos of the end of the war. The passenger train he is riding is attacked by US Navy fighters, but he survives. He arrives at the base just as a group of Special Attack (Kamikaze) pilots is preparing to take off for their one-way mission. One of the pilots is a close friend and they trot to the waiting airplane together. My sense (after 30 years) is that the protagonist passes a regulation baseball to the doomed friend as they run toward the plane. The friend takes off as the player watches, saluting, from the runway margin. The friend's squadron finds the US Fleet and dives to attack. US fighters and flak are unrelenting and the friend is wounded, bloody, and the plane damaged and smoking as he aims for an aircraft carrier. He holds up the baseball in one hand and yells in defiance, seconds from the end. The camera cuts to archival film of a kamikaze attacking an aircraft carrier...

Later, back at the base, the player is gathering up his friend's belongings to send them home. Among them seems to be instructions. The player paces off the distances and directions from the instructions, and at the end, opens a small bunker in a secluded spot. In it is a cardboard box and in the box, a dozen new baseballs.

The rest of the film is narrated archival film of the player's rise to fame, in the post-war world of Japanese baseball. He joins a team, still looking young. He plays well, hits home runs, the team wins. Year pass, success follows success. The narrator is probably saying he never forgot his old special attack pal. The film ends.

Does anyone here know the name of the movie, name of the player, actor, director or screen writer?

Bill Abbott - Abbott.Bill atMark gmail d0t com

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

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