Taishou Yakyuu Musume has one of the best starts to a first episode ever. This leads into a charming slice-of-life anime with excellent direction, pretty art and animation, a very soothing soundtrack, and an interesting premise (girl’s baseball in 1920s Japan). The episode is what one might call ‘very good.’ However, it is also what one might call ‘very goddamn boring.’ — HOWEVER, when I did a little research to decide if I should drop the show, I found myself so dumbstruck by the show’s insane pedigree that I honestly just couldn’t bring myself not to continue.
A casual glance at TYM’s ANN page probably won’t reveal anything special to the average reader. There are no big name directors or animators on it, and it’s a J.C. Staff production, which literally could mean anything in terms of quality. The most you’ll probably notice is a couple of big name seiyuu who are involved, such as Kana Ueda (Rin Tohsaka, Hayate from Nanoha, Yumi from Marimite, Saki Miyanaga), Mamiko Noto (Ana from IchiMaro, Kotomi from Clannad, Shimako from Marimite, Rimone from Simoun) , or Ryou Hirohashi (Chane from Baccano!, Alice from Aria, Tamaki from Bamboo Blade, Kyou from Clannad, Sora from Kaleido Star, Rakka from Haibane Renmei).
Starting there, TYM does have quite an impressive vocal cast. There are a lot of veterans here, such as the above, often who are familiar with all kinds of roles. Eri Kitamura has played a range from Kodomo no Jikan’s Kokonoe Rin to the mature and beautiful Amuria from Simoun, as well as the likes of Bakemonogatari’s Araragi, Saya from Blood+, and Ami from Toradora among others. The secondary lead is even played by Mai Nakahara (Nagisa from Clannad, Peppo from Gankutsuou, Rena from Higurashi, Mai from Mai-HiME).
However, even with so many huge-name veteran voices there, the one that has me the most excited is the least experienced, who happens to have the lead role – Kanae Itou. Itou only has a handful of roles, but her biggest one is as Amu Hinamori from Shugo Chara. In the 14 eps I watched of Shugo Chara, I remember being extremely impressed by her stellar performance, but really disappointed that she didn’t have any other roles where I could check her out. It’s definitely exciting to finally see her get another lead!
Moving beyond the absolutely immense vocal talent, the art director is Shichiro Kobayashi. I’ll admit, the guy’s done SO many shows, that you could almost go numb to it, but every single time he does an amazing job. You can always tell a Kobayashi work when you see it, too, and you can totally tell here once again. Since his catalog really speaks for itself, let me copy my catalog overview from other posts I’ve had with him: Simoun, Umi Monogatari, Angel’s Egg, Ashita no Joe 2, Berserk, Detroit Metal City, Figure 17, Castle of Cagliostro, Melody of Oblivion, REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA, Space Adventure Cobra.
But since I can have a million Kobayashi shows, he’s not the most exciting bit of news. What interests me most is director Takashi Ikehata, director of two brilliant slice-of-life comedies, Potemayo and Genshiken. Being a fan of both shows, and knowing how slow they could be at times, gives me more confidence that, slow as TYM is, it could still be a wholly worthwhile endeavor.
But it isn’t even enough that Ikehata is directing. TYM looks to be his complete labor of love. Ikehata has been credited with series composition and screenplay on every episode thus far, and as storyboarder for the first 5. It always really excites me to see when a director takes several of the production jobs into their own hands, because it means they really want the work to be a certain way, and care a lot about how it turns out. It’s the kind of thing where you can confidently say ‘Taishou Yakyuu Musume is Takashi Ikehata’s show’.
Having seen all of that, I feel like I simply have to continue this show. I can’t possibly miss out on the chance to see such talent on display, and especially to see what hangs under Ikehata’s dick. It should definitely be an interesting little project. As for my impressions – episode one had a little bit of a problem with being too plot focused and not really giving reason enough to care about the characters, as well as introducing a few to many, but there are signs that this could very quickly become a more character-heavy show. After all, Genshiken’s first episode was pretty fucking slow.
I still can’t get over the beginning though!
Koboyashi does some of his best work on Simoun.
Kanae Itou did an amazing job as Hinamori Amu of Shugo Chara.