A business management baseball anime? Sounds pretty solid, right?
A synopsis for Natsumi Iwasaki’s Moshidora follows:
Peter Drucker. Named “The Father of Management,” he was a master of all things business. His book, Management, is said to be the bible of the modern businessman. This is the story of how a high school girl picked up Management and took a regular baseball team to the High School Nationals.
Pretty solid, right? Except this synopsis wasn’t published on a review site or Wikipedia, but rather serves as the introduction to every episode of the series. In the first fifteen seconds of Moshidora, the audience discovers that the team will end up going to Koshien and that the show would rather precisely say what will happen than let it happen organically.
Moshidora, a shortening of the comically long Moshi Kōkō Yakyū no Joshi Manējā ga Dorakkā no “Manejimento” o Yondara, follows Kawashima Minami, a restless high schooler who takes over the school baseball club’s manager position from her sick friend Miyata Yuki. To learn about the job, she looks for a book about managing a baseball team, but accidentally picks up Peter Drucker’s Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices instead. Rather than exchanging it for a different book, as any reasonable person would, Minami rolls with her fate and revitalizes the team using Drucker’s theories on business management.
Moshidora’s strong points can’t save the show or its hollow girls power theme
The show’s biggest flaw, however, is that it doesn’t spend much time connecting business with baseball, which should’ve been easy enough considering how big a business baseball is in Japan. Minami offers buzzwords like marketing and innovation without convincing us exactly how it applies to the game, instead making obvious strategical changes to a struggling baseball team. Management feels so inconsequential to the story that Minami could’ve used Darwin’s Origin of Species or Mastering The Art of French Cooking as her reference point and come up with similar results.
Instead of examining a cross-section of two of Japan’s cultural pillars, Moshidora spends most of its time on a bland underdog story with few business insights. Minami gathers support from other clubs by, surprise, helping them in return, while her inspiration for the team’s innovative approach to the game eliminates the sacrifice bunt, which has been common practice in the United States for the past decade. Very little suggests the show’s creators tried connecting business with baseball at all.
Surprisingly, the show’s action scenes flow nicely in what looks like a low-budget animation style. The final game also twists the conventional bottom-of-the-ninth-two-outs trope that many baseball dramas suffer from, creating a genuinely uplifting conclusion to a mostly emotionless show. But neither of these strong points overcome the show’s lazy dialogue, hollow girl-power themes, and predictable storyline, making the show’s brevity its strongest suit. Corporations, take note: the mixing of baseball and business turns out less compelling than advertised.