Well, expect some discussions and pretty in-depth explanations about baseball from me lol
I’ve mentioned it a good amount of times before but if you didn’t know, I am a HUGE fan of the sport of baseball. Ever since getting into it when my hometown team won the World Series/championship back in 2010, my interest in baseball has widened so much, as I’ve been learning more about the game and following the news surrounding players and teams on a daily basis.
If you don’t know what baseball is or don’t know much about it: essentially it’s a game played with a bat, ball and gloves and two teams each play a different role, whether that be offense or defense. The fundamentals really consist of hitting, catching, and throwing a ball in order to do various things like scoring, getting someone out, pitching, etc. Honestly, you can find a way better explanation if you just Google it lol
*hell, this scene in Clannad can explain baseball better than I can
Baseball is widely considered, even from avid sports fans, as a very slow and boring sport. I mean, I understand where they’re getting at; you have to wait for the pitcher to be ready to throw the ball, sometimes the ball gets hit into foul territory, then there’s a pretty long wait time for everyone to get back into position, all for a whole nine innings (baseball games on average take about 3 hours). It’s slow, yes, but I strongly believe if you have the opportunity to learn more about the technicalities, terms, rules and know exactly what’s going on most of the time, it’s actually a pretty entertaining and sometimes intense experience.
So now, you’re probably wondering to yourself, “what the hell is the point of this post?”. Well, as a fan of baseball and the Japanese voice actor/actress culture, there is actually a fairly interesting connection between the two.
Japan, similar to the United States, loves baseball. It’s considered THE most popular sport in the country; Japan’s love of baseball could be comparable to how influential soccer/futbol is to countries like Brazil. And according to the Japan National Tourism Organization, Japanese baseball fans are actually surprised when they heard that baseball is not native to Japan and the fact that America also calls baseball their “national sport”. It’s also good to note that since the next summer Olympics in 2020 will be in Tokyo, they decided to bring back baseball in the list of events after 12 years of it not being included.
Japan has their own professional league, like the US’ Major League Baseball (MLB), called the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization (NPB) consisting of twelve teams scattered throughout the country. Some players from the NPB have also tried playing in the MLB; one of the more famous players being Ichiro Suzuki, who was the very first Japanese player who was not a pitcher to appear in the major leagues (he played right field) and went on to win MVP, Rookie of the Year, and have 3000+ hits in his 18-year-career in the states.
ANYWHO, as I don’t want to bore you with the more detailed stuff (I honestly could go on and on about this lol), baseball is not only a sport, but it’s also a culture. There are so many things outside what goes on on the field that people can enjoy watching/participating in whether that be singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch or eating the great delicacies at the ballpark. One of the more interesting traditions in baseball is the “ceremonial first pitch” where teams invites celebrities/important figures and allows them to throw the first pitch of the game. It’s a nice little thing that happens since either you can watch a celebrity throw a pretty darn good pitch or watch them miserably fail.
Most likely all Japanese baseball teams do this too, but the one team I’ve actually seen ceremonial first pitches for is the Saitama Seibu Lions. Based in Tokorozawa, Saitama, the Lions are a pretty nice team even though they haven’t won a major championship in about ten years. But what’s notable about them in this blog’s case is that they have frequent special events at home games, collaborating with anime studios to promote shows and such. Most of the time, the voice actors/actresses of those shows get invited to do something at the ballpark whether that be announcing the player lineups, watching the game, sitting with the TV play-by-play commentators to chat, and/or throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. And there have been a ton of seiyuu who have had those opportunities!
On June 23rd 2013, the seiyuu of the Hiiragi sisters from the popular KyoAni anime Lucky Star, Fukuhara Kaori (voice of Hiiragi) and Kato Emiri (Kagami), threw out the first pitch together during a promotion for the anime (Lucky Star also takes place in Saitama!).
In July 2014, the voices of Yukimura Aoi and Aoba Kokona from the slice-of-life Yama no Susume, Iguchi Yuka and Ogura Yui, both threw out the first pitch during a Seibu Lions game against the Orix Buffaloes.
*I love the way the announcer said, “sugoi, desu ne” after they threw it lol
The talented voice group for the main female characters in AnoHana, Hayami Saori (Chiriko), Kayano Ai (Meiko), and Tomatsu Haruka (Naruko), all had the opportunity to participate in a Anohana-related event at a Seibu Lions game (I believe around August 2015). As you can see in the video, they got also got custom jerseys, announced the lineup to the crowd and I would assume all three of them got to throw out the first pitch of the game as well.
Most probably know who Hirano Aya is if you watched The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya since she voiced the iconic Haruhi in that series. As of now, she’s been doing pretty well for herself after her whole scandal back a few years ago, being in stage plays and various anime. Recently she, and a few other seiyuu such as Iguchi Yuka and Asumi Kana, all threw out the first pitch in an event I couldn’t specifically identify. But as seen in her multiple Instagram posts, it seems like she was pretty into it and practiced a good amount of times since she wanted to throw a good one.
Lastly, there was actually an anime-related event at a Seibu Lions game for a show that aired this Winter season! Izawa Mikako and Kusunoki Tomori, the voices of Uki and Kotetsu respectively from the cheer-leading anime Anima Yell, both had the opportunity to throw a pitch and even do some cheering as well. The video below doesn’t show the full view of their pitches but if you actually see it (in this video I posted on my Instagram), Tomoriru threw a pretty good one!
I’m sure there are many more instances with seiyuu being involved with professional Japanese teams (e.g. Uchida Maaya being a fan of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks), but these were the ones I’ve found throughout my time as a seiyuu fan.
I honestly still don’t know what the point of this post was but it was nice to see some voice actresses doing these kinds of things. I would also be down to see many more seiyuu throw out the ceremonial first pitch for JP baseball games! I know I only mentioned female seiyuu but I really couldn’t find any male seiyuu participating in these events… I could only imagine the likenesses of Nakamura Yuuichi, Shimono Hiro, Tomokazu Sugita, or Miyano Mamoru throwing out a pitch (some of those listed actually played roles in baseball anime). Hell, I even think writing this post made me interested in watching anime revolved around baseball.
Last thought: I would actually be interested in attending a Japanese baseball game. It seems like it’s a little more unique from an American one, plus I’d love to see how Japanese baseball players are different from the ones I’ve seen here in the West. I even told my best friend, who’s into sports like myself, that we should go to one some day lol
Anyways, thanks for reading!! 😀