Title: Moshidora (Alt: What If the Female Manager of a High-School Baseball Team Read Drucker’s Management)
Producer: Production I.G (Licensed by NHK)
Genre: Drama, Sports,
Recommended/Similar Titles: Cross Game, One Outs, Taishou Yakyuu Musume, Ookiku Furikabutte
Review Source Medium: Blu-ray
Minami joins her High School baseball team as a team manager after finding out that her best friend Yuuki is in the hospital and can’t be a team manager any more. In order to try to fill in for Yuuki and to help out the team the best she can, she goes out to find a book on how to manage a baseball team. Unfortunately, she accidentally buys Peter Drucker’s book called “Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices” which is actually about how to properly manage a business. Because she couldn’t return the book, she decides to read it anyway and to try to apply the business management concepts to the baseball team so that way they can go on and win the Nationals.
Baseball and business management might not seem like a duo that would jive together in sync, but with Moshidora; conventional wisdom meets the unconventional for a stunning fusion of the two. As underdog story of a dysfunctional baseball team holding onto the lofty pursuit to go to the nationals, the series might be looked upon as copied template for all things cliché, but with the principles and ideas borrowed from Drucker (as one of the many motif’s), this is where the series draws the line between itself and other series of the same variety. The first half (episode 1-6) is a perfect example of this, taking a rather forward yet simple approach as Minami applies timelessly wisdom to tackle the more complicated; management of the individuals on the team as the team as whole. Add to that a well-composed script both containing the passion of the game and the drama of the human element, Moshidora well speaks for itself to discard the word cliché from it’s presentation. That well-composed script also does a excellent job of compacting all of this into ten episodes that are able articulate and the express the story very well without much conflict. Granted, it is very uneven within developing the story at first and even somewhat unrealistic (and somewhat of a bore in a personal aside), it does develop itself over time and bring with it, a pragmatic concept. It surely is not one of the better underdog stories for overall presentation, but surely an interesting one that does well to make itself one.
The characters for Moshidora are a mixed bag, speaking in both terms of personality and development. Besides manger Minami Kawashima (Yoko Hikasa) and her close friend Yuki Miyat (Kana Hanazawa) their are only a few select members of the baseball team that exactly standout or contribute to the story to make it worth while. These would include: Makoto Kachi (Kenjiro Tsuda) team coach, Keiichirō Asano (Tetsuya Kakihara) a determine pitcher, Jirō Kashiwagi (Yoshimasa Hosoya) a childhood friend of Minami and team catcher, Jun Hoshide (Akio Suyama) acting captain earlier in, Ayano Hōjō (Sayaka Nakaya) as the teams scorekeeper and co-manager, as well as a slew of others. As a partially character driven series, actually character growth is very stagnant for most part or non-existence for that matter, but the drama department does fairly well and the main emphasis point, especially leading up to the denouement of the last four episodes.
Production I.G takes the helm of the directorial duties which leads to an average job in the animation skill set and admirable series execution. In itself, the animation is not exactly top notch nor noticeable, but is a very vivid yet, subtle style which helps give Moshidora a unique tone to the drama elements. That said, Production I.G did haplessly forget QC for some the animation hiccups with regards to the art that occurs more than once (I.E: a scene Nikai’s glasses, a scene with Minami’s hair style), however, these are minor and only minuet details. The musical score is very strong and worth taking note of, especially the main OP song by Azusa named “Yume Note” used as a common motif throughout the series. Takayuki Hamana acts as the series director and most known for his work with the Prince Tennis, Appleseed XIII, and Kemono no Souja Erin.
Personally, I enjoyed Moshidora with its flaws in all, but seen more beauty and clever wit packed inside rather than the mediocre trimmings. One in reason in particular why I like the series was for the use of Peter Drucker and his personal staple ideas and life. Like the Hodokubo baseball team, most of Druckers immediate work in the West (opposed to the east like Japan that admire his work) was perceived to be flawed in a sense; but through his many endeavors became a noticeable paradigm from his previous underdog status. Speaking purely of the anime itself, it sort mirrors Druckers writing, both speaking of innovation and holding steadfast with conviction to explore the unconventional. I might be reading a bit more into this than the series actually inflicts, but it is hard to deny the series of its own inventive spin. I do wish the series had actually put more effort into the character growth than drama elements (which uses a crutch later on to carry itself to the end), however can not fault it for it.
Moshidora is admirable series well-worth the time watching despite some minor flaws. While it is typically constructed with a cliché aspect in mind and also can be dry during the start, it makes up for it later on with ease. Again, it might not be the best underdog story out their, but a very inventive one to say the least. If you like sports series (baseball in particular) integrated with management philosophy and drama on the side, then Moshidora would probably best their is yet to fill that slate. However, if you are looking for something of equal value, yet more inspirational and direct: Cross Game and One Outs are not bad choices either.
Pros: Well written-script, inventive fusion of management and baseball, solid musical score
Cons: Script does lack some refinement in earlier to finishing episodes, no character growth/characterization emphasis, minor animation gaffs (lack of QC).