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.
'Moshidora' is based on a best selling Japanese novel (translated) 'What If the Girl Manager of a High School Baseball Team Read Drucker's "Management"?' I am not making this up, the title really is that long. The anime title is an abbreviation.
The novel may have swept No.1 spot in every major book ranking chart in Japan with over 2.5 million copies sold in less than a year and half, but the anime adaptation is nothing but complete and utter failure.
One can tell how badly this show was neglected within minutes. Almost all the characters and backgrounds are nearly frozen! Not only that, there is absolutely
zero creativity in art direction, as almost every single scene is either a standstill medium shot, standstill full shot, or moving long shot. It's like watching a slideshow.
Voice acting is almost equally lackluster. All the characters talk in an unusually slow pace, completely devoid of emotion. I don't know about you, but this is what I call "reading the script".
Of course, not every series is going to get 'Seirei no Moribito' or 'Dennou Coil' treatment and get showered with taxpayer money, but daily broadcast with production value lower than that of 'Anpanman' is no way to treat a No.1 yearly best seller. Just because it's an educational show on NHK doesn't mean it has to be garbage as an anime, and more importantly, it should not be teaching wrong things.
*Spoiler begins here*
The concept of running a baseball team like a business is nothing new. Actually, it's a pretty common theme in coach/management side of sports drama. 'Moshidora' is unique in that it specifies a single book and focuses on select concepts, but this presents a new set of problems. What happens is that the protagonist basically picks up Peter Drucker's "Management", then becomes a mindless drone who literally follows every single teaching on the book as if it really was the life's Bible. Last time I checked, management was an art that has best practices, but not an instruction manual!
Peter Drucker's book for a high school team is a very poor choice, because his books are written mainly for large corporations and nonprofits (like the Red Cross), whose ultimate goal is profit (or raising funds). That's why the concepts introduced in this series are like "organizations should be socially responsible", or "employee responsibility fosters morale/motivation" etc, that large corporations often neglect. It's also why the book focuses a lot on importance of marketing, because raising customer awareness and building lasting relationship with customers ultimately accomplish large organization's objectives. On the other hand, high school baseball team is a small organization, and their success is not measured by number of fans and revenue generated, but how far they advance into the tournament. This organizational objective was defined in one of the earlier episodes by the protagonist, to win. Marketing is not required to achieve that goal.
There were some interesting application of theories to a baseball team, but also stupid mistakes like confusing marketing with internal marketing and HRM (Human Resources Management). However, there were also many instances where things went way too conveniently just to prove the concept works. Especially, the application of "Innovation" was absolutely retarded. Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that guessing the type and location of the pitch is more than half the challenges a batter has to face against a pitcher. By pitching nothing but strikes, you're voluntarily abandoning the location aspect of guesswork, essentially allowing batters to swing every pitch without hesitation. Such a strategy would never work, unless the pitcher was a prodigy who throws at 100mph or nasty breaking balls with startling precision (he was not). And the opposing team is still surprised at the regional semifinals that they don't bunt? No, they would send scouts to spy on opposing teams way before reaching that far.
Baseball aside, it didn't even make sense from business management perspective. "Innovation" from management and HR perspective is not telling your employees never-seen-before strategy and have them to follow that. It's about creating an environment for employees that encourages innovation. 3M's Post-it Notes and Google's "20 percent time" are probably the most famous examples. Creation of strict employee guideline by upper management, and blindly following a single book as a manager is not "innovation" from the management perspective.
While excessive fantasy is acceptable, sometimes even preferred in sports drama, using inconceivable scenarios to demonstrate a business concept is not the way to educate. The thing with business concept is that it must be used on a case-by-case basis, a strategy that works for one firm does not work for another. There are hundreds of theories and many influential business theorists around. A manager's job is to determine which strategy should be used for their own organization, and how it should be implemented. By forcibly twisting the outcome in order to demonstrate a theory, the lesson becomes invalid.
I was actually watching this series with a faint hope that the protagonist would eventually decide to abandon the book. To my surprise, it actually happened, but in the most undramatic way imaginable. No matter how you think about it, she should've strayed from the book after the eye-opening event of a best friend's death, at the very climax where she ended up pointlessly trying to convince the coach not to change the batter. That would've been solid drama, maybe even teach a real lesson from the story. In the end, the show severely underplayed the realization of the book's limits, and missed the chance to show that one must choose what she believes is right rather than blindly following a manual, or should I call it "innovation in management". As it stands, the choice of keeping the batter who eventually hit the winning run seems like yet another convenient scriptwriting. It also appears to be done on her whim, as they were still living by the book after regional finals. It didn't even make sense they're trying to play the way "customer" wants, when they're not even a professional team that plays for direct revenue and fan base. Apparently the producers of this show didn't understand the concept of organizational objective because they only read "Management". The climax, that fake swing sequence was extremely clever and dramatic, using canny plot device in earlier episode. Unfortunately, it's too little too late by this point.
Characters in this show are just puppets. Their emotions are limited, their behaviors are fabricated to advance the story (I mean, what was with the protagonist's reaction in front of the team after her friend's death? "Can't read the atmosphere," as the Japanese call it, beyond belief). To be honest, I forgot all their names already, because I simply was not even close to connecting or caring about any of them.
*Spoiler ends here*
OP by Azusa stood out as the only good thing about this series. 'Yume Note' is an extremely touching and catchy Jpop song perfect for what little atmosphere this series had. She's definitely setting herself up to become the next anime song princess in my opinion, with three consecutive solid theme songs in row, previous two being 'Amagami SS' OPs.
I do sense some clever writing by the original author, but I am going to single this one out as the worst anime adaptation attempt ever, and the worst sports anime I've ever encountered. Not only did it lack entertainment value as a sports anime, it failed miserably as a tool of business education, and serves only as the glorification of Peter Drucker and his book. I suspect the novel is nowhere as pathetic as this anime, and I'll be waiting to see the live-action movie adaptation as the better interpretation of the novel.
"What If the Educational Adaptation of a High School Baseball Novel Had a Proper "Direction"?"
One big question in deciding whether to watch Moshidora or not is to ask yourself if you like realistic anime. There are no "power ups" and the characters are very human.
Story (9): A key concept to this anime is applying business theory to managing a baseball team. For example "Marketing" is useful to the team because people can find beneficial interactions (e.g. joint practice with track team). I think this concept is executed well enough though. It is slow but every development makes sense. The pacing actually reminds me more of cross game than one outs or major although
there is little if any romance in Moshidora. Perhaps this is a side effect from being an adaptation to a novel. Nonetheless, this plot driven anime accomplished so much more than most anime do in a full season.
Art(7): The art is average, nothing good or bad really drew my attention.
Sound(6): I did not like the strange soundtrack played when the anime explained Drucker's theory. The ED was soothing albeit a little forgettable. The OP is similar in style, but by the end of the anime, it will really grow on you.
Character(8): The main character has a sense of depth as of the 5th episode. We don't really get too close to any other character, but the anime does a good job of characterizing all more important characters, and they are all likable enough. It reminds me of Ookiku Furikabutte in a way, although it definitely does not have as much focus on the actual mechanics of the game.
Enjoyment(7): I liked this anime to be honest. It is a breath of fresh air to action oriented or gag/comedy anime.
*Edit* I've finished this anime since I wrote this review, and I have to say the latter episodes have been much better. The slow buildup in the introductory is paying off. We see the fruits of the team's efforts as they dukes it out in the summer tournament. In the end though I think this anime sends out a message that Drucker's business philosophy isn't complete by itself. We are human beings and the memories we make during our lives are just as important as the results we see.
This anime was quite enjoyable to me. If you didn't mind the meticulous pacing in Cross game and a focus on plot and the characters, chances are you'll also enjoy this anime.
As someone who almost never watch anime, my perspective might be very different from anime enthusiasts, so please bear with me.
For those who are currently contemplating whether they should pick up this series, let me offer a few words of caution so you can maximize your enjoyment out of the entire experience. Moshidora is not about baseball. It is not about the thrill of winning.
What Moshidora offers us is a likable female lead and sage advices on how to be a leader. You will find that the advices given apply to us as well as to managers and world leaders: leading with integrity, what
does it mean to innovate, what is an effective communication, what is a failure, focusing on the results but not the effort, and marketing not just what you want to sell, but also what people want. I heard that this anime is intended for those in their 30s and 40s. If true, then those of us who fall into this age group are no doubt facing these issues daily.
Let's get to the plot: This is a straightforward affair. Minami Kawashima, the female lead, becomes the manager of a mediocre baseball team. Having no managerial experience and is aversive to baseball, she accidentally picks up Drucker's Management, thus embarking on a journey to self-discovery while unleashing her hidden potential as a manager. The first 8 episodes offers numerous quotes from Drucker that I have mentioned are highly relevant to those of us who are now in the "real world." The final two episodes contain more drama and if you stick with the series to the end, you will be rewarded with an emotional (or melodramatic) ending.
You might now wonder if this series is as bland as I presented. The answer is yes. But you have an endearing female lead who does not fit the stereotypes of your typical female leads in teenage anime series. Minami is not a tsundere or a smart female but for some reason is fallen madly in love over some clueless guy and is fighting for his attention. Minami is compassionate and kind, but she never lets emotion influencing her judgments. She has a razor sharp eye for talents and is not afraid to cut you if you suck. She is results-oriented; excuses like "but I tried very hard" will not work on her. Traits that mark a highly capable manager.
A word of criticism: The art is far below what one might expect from Production I.G.
In summary, you can get a lot of mileage out of this series if you approach this not as a baseball drama, but as a short crash course on what you should do in life. You don't have to be a manager or a leader to use the advices and lessons offered in this series.
I normally don't like sports animes, nothing against fans of the genre but for me, I dislike the unrealistic depictions of the games and how a single game spans many episodes, often to the detriment of character development.
In "Moshidora" I was even more apprehensive because the premise (a girl inadvertently buys a business book about management, but sticks with it to find guidance in managing a baseball team) seemed like the "it's funny because she's cute and therefor dumb but look she's trying to do smart stuff" subgenre, which I don't really like.
What I actually found in this series was pretty decent. The episodes
follow Minomi as she incorporates lessons from the management bible to running a baseball team, with interesting results. All the while she is reporting back to, getting advice from, and at times at odds with the team's original manager, her friend who is in a hospital with a mystery ailment.
Okay so it's not the most original story. It does however treat Minomi with respect, she's highlighted for her intelligence, resolve and sincerity - nary a shot or scene seems to treat her like a mindless little thing just there to be cute. The baseball is quite realistic, which for me was refreshing. The only foible was that I seriously doubt the team's central strategy would be a good idea at all (it ain't Moneyball that's for sure) but who knows, maybe it would kill in Japanese high school baseball.
The end result was just a well-executed sports anime with a refreshing balance between on-field action and character development. It's not that it was the most moving story or deepest characters I've ever seen, but it was just good fun to watch.
Baseball is a much loved sport in both the USA and Japan, and to a lesser degree in other countries. But Japan knows how to glorify this fascinating sport with a whole bunch of incredibly cool baseball anime, and even a few manga. Let's take a look at baseball anime through history!