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Taishou Yakyuu Musume (Taisho Baseball Girls) official site (in Japanese) has all the ingredients that make a great show: pastlove (it is set in the 1920s), girls striving for their best in a suffragette sort of way, not a feminist sort of way (think Little Women), and it’s a coming-of-age thing. The plot? In an age of modernization, a guy tells his fiance` that she has no business doing anything but staying at home and raising children. To show him what she’s really made of, she vows to best him in baseball. She has two problems, though. One, she knows nothing about the game. Two, she needs eight other players.

The usual short guide follows, with outstanding episodes starred.

* Ep 1 — In a word, charming. If the series sticks with this humorous and tender approach throughout it will be something fantastic. Here’s hoping.

Ep 2 — It’s still cool, but it loses some of the historical sheen here. Some funny parts this time. The ending theme song rocks. Intro a lot of new characters.

* Ep 3 — A good one. They fill in the positions and have their first practice game against the boy’s middle school. The outcome? It’s not what you might expect, if you’re used to Western animated series. It’s emotionally consistent and funny.

* Ep 4 — Another good one. Character development with Akiko, and Koume grows a bit (though some of this borders on the unrealistic). More humorous bits than last time.

* Ep 5 — Good, but a bit lower-key than last time. Intro the ninth player.

* Ep 6 — Yes. There are some funny parts here and there are parts where the show could have gone in a pervy direction, but it didn’t. Restraint and class? Wow, that’s almost unheard of in a girls’ series, so mad kudos to the writers. Koume`’s life gets very complicated at the end. They find their first opponents and completely suck, but there’s a lot of learning and growing with many of the characters.

* Ep 7 — Another fantastic episode. Very funny and more character distinction. The only drawback is that it is a bit episodic, as there’s no mention of Koume’s husband, Saburo, which you’d think she’d be still freaking out over.

Ep 8 — Not as polished and taut as 7, but there is quite a bit of character development. Saburo shows up and he inadvertently declares his feelings towards her; she is oblivious. There’s some humor as the role that Koume` ends up doing in a movie is totally misunderstood, and the ending bit with Kogishina is charming. More about the magical ball, too. Lower-key.

* Ep 9 — A solid episode with a lot going on. I fear what will happen in the next episode as it looks like it will take the admiration that Koucho has for Tomoe in a hentai direction.

Ep 10 — It’s semi-cute overall, but there is one scene that implies Koucho is a lez. The end of the series though seems to imply that is some kind of immaturity. Is this some kind of cultural thing?

* Ep 11 — A return to form. This has a splash of humor, but it’s mostly serious and tense as the game starts.

* Ep 12 — A beautiful ending, shot-through with failure and success. It’s one of those rare stories where the good guys don’t totally destroy, but they prove themselves worthy opponents, which is no small feat. It’s human and it’s real. The ending bit is totally charming and captures what the series is all about.

There’s really only one fly in the ointment here, and that’s the major subject matter of episode 10. It’s one of those things that seems grafted-on for some sort of shock value, or perhaps to lampoon the silliness of it all. Then again, maybe it’s some cultural thing. I don’t know, but the series would have been excellent without it.

Anyhow, as it stands, this is a very good series with quite a few standout episodes. The profanities are rare and there’s no other objectionable content. Themes are mutual sacrifice, the value of hard work, commitment, and teamwork. There’s no real theology here but there’s nothing blasphemous either.

It’s worth watching and worth keeping, because I doubt it will ever be translated and dubbed. I can’t imagine how they’d do a sequel either, so this is probably it. Grab the fansubbed versions while you can, courtesy of Saizen and Tw-rev/Doremi. Get the first episode by Saizen for lots of cool historical notes!

For your downloading pleasure:
Saizen and Tw-rev/Doremi

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I looove this series! The ending theme is one of the best I’ve heard in anime`, so I decided to make it available for everyone. The heavy lifting of course, was done by the excellent fansub groups Twrev (Twilight Revolution — no site guys?) and Doremi. Here’s the ending theme in full English-subbed glory. The song is “Yume Miru Kokoro,” by Kanae Ito. Mmm! Tasty modern rock!

Sorry I can’t embed it, but it’s only 20 Mb or so in MKV…here.

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