Set near the end of the Taisho Era in old, modernizing Japan, Taisho Yakyuu Musume juxtaposes a pervasive attitude of the time—women have a set place in society as subservient housewives—with the social changes brought about by a group of young school girls. When Akiko’s fiancé claims that ladies have no need for an education, Akiko becomes determined to challenge him in baseball, both a predominantly male sport and something Akiko’s fiancé takes a lot of pride in. Taisho Yakyuu Musume follows Akiko’s friend, Koume, as Koume helps Akiko to assemble a female team, learn and practice baseball, and play against the boys. Though a sports anime on the surface, this anime embeds an incredibly empowering message into its simple plot. They are playing for more than just a game.
At its core, Taisho Yakyuu Musume is about growth. From personal growths of each girl, to the growth of a fledgling team, to the social growth of a society,  the series develops each aspect thoroughly. The characters are wonderfully complex and adorable. Not only does each member of the team have their own distinctive personality, but their relationships with other members are all given careful attention as well. For example, Koume is the glue that holds the team together. Akiko and Tomoe are rivaling star pitcher and batter, and often compete with each other (in more than one way).  Even the Tsukubae twins have their own fascinating dynamic.
Further, the girls all have their issues that they must work out for themselves and for the team. Kouchou finds a place to best use her running talents. Tomoe learns to control and embrace her batting style. And Kyouko overcomes her low self-esteem. These challenges makes watching the growth of the girls and the coming together of the team so fascinating and so rewarding. And it also makes them absolutely lovable.
Before the baseball girls learn the sport, they first have to overcome the sexist gender roles of the Taisho era. Without recognition or respect, for they are mere women—and, improper ladies at that—playing in a “men’s sport,” the girls have a hard time forming a team, acquiring practice partners, and getting their sanctioned match. However, with strong wills and sincere hearts, they are able to inspire a change in the attitude of many, including conservative parents, old-fashioned school official, and ignorant boys.
I love that Taisho Yakyuu Musume delivers its message very strongly and confidently. Akiko, the inspiration behind the women’s baseball team, is very outspoken about gender issues. Her pride, determination, and emotions really add a firm concrete layer to the feminist ideas in this anime. Further, Akiko and the baseball girls are part of a generational change in the rapidly modernizing Taisho Japan. It is really refreshing to watch the growth of feminism portrayed in such a genuine manner. Similarly, Taisho Yakyuu Musume is a nice change of pace for a medium that too often glorifies male chauvinism.
Though the message is powerful, it is not lost in the light atmosphere. I found the anime to be at once relaxing, fun, and incredibly intelligent. I especially enjoy the comedy. The street batter episode, in which Koume and Tomoe challenge random pitchers to “duels,” had me laughing so hard. Koume also has some of the best expressions ever. She makes me smile every time. Of course, these moment of levity do not distract the series from its main themes. The cuter scenes perfectly balance and accentuate the heavier, poignant parts. Their adorable personalities have really grown on me over the twelve episodes, so much so that I shed several tears during all those heartrending losses and warming successes. This truly is one of the best, feel-good anime I have seen in a long while.
- Note the presence of both kimono and sailor uniform. The blend of traditional and “modern” flavors is very charming. A society in transition always allows some of the prettiest mix of fashion.
- As this is my review, I am compelled to mention something about yuri. Yes, there is heavy heavy yuri subtext in this anime. It is a huge part of what makes this anime so fun. Akiko and Tomoe fighting over Koume is only some of the highlights. Well, I will just leave it at that. ♥
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