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‘The Days of Diamond’ sheds light on issues surrounding Baseball Prodigy

The cover of the first volume of “Diamond no Kozai” (“The Days of Diamonds”) by Ohashi Hirai, published by Shueisha, Inc.

Diamond no Kozai (The days of diamond)
by Ohashi Hirai (Shueisha)

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Major League Baseball star Shohei Ohtani made headlines in December when he signed a 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth a total of $700 million (¥101.5 billion). The deal, hailed as the largest in sports history, is in some ways beyond astonishing, even awe-inspiring. Talented young athletes are often described as ‘diamonds in the rough’, and that is only becoming more and more true. Ohtani has proven that huge talent can fetch a huge price. Everyone has been frantically searching around for a similarly talented individual, a diamond yet to be discovered or, in other words, a ‘second Ohtani’.

Manga “Diamond no Kozai” (The Days of the Diamond) tells the story of Jiro Ayasegawa, a fifth grade primary school student who has a natural talent for sports and outperforms others in everything he does. Jiro himself is relaxed and not competitive at all. All he wants is to have fun while being physically active. However, Jiro’s overwhelming ability ultimately isolates him from his peers. But what if he opts out of individual sports and instead participates in team sports that cannot be played alone? Jiro joins a struggling local baseball team, determined to just have fun as a pitcher. But his fastball is too fast for the catcher, and the adults won’t let him just enjoy the game. Jiro is almost forced to join the Japanese national team for the U-12 Baseball World Cup, where he once again showcases his unfathomable, monstrous skills and suddenly finds himself on the mound in a match to determine the No. 1 team in the world. world will become.

This unique baseball manga has been very popular since last year and is being talked about a lot. It has almost none of those refreshing and invigorating elements of friendship, hard work and victory – supposedly the lifeblood of a hot-blooded sports manga. Instead, the story cruelly depicts children breaking down in the face of a child prodigy their own age, and adults driven mad by the diamond-like child’s brilliance.

You could say that this work is almost a horror manga, but this doesn’t do it just to stand out. It questions whether the mantra “You must develop the talents of children” is anything more than an outpouring of adults’ egos. Can excessive elitist education really make children happy? This manga also touches on universal themes beyond sports and has many must-read pages. Mangaka Ohashi Hirai apparently played baseball as a boy. His storytelling is so skillful that it’s hard to believe this is his first full-length serial work.

Ohtani was also a special ‘diamond in the rough’. He received training and education for gifted child players and could throw balls at a speed of more than 100 km per hour when he was in the fifth grade of primary school. He is certainly the inspiration behind Jiro’s characterization. Ohtani has become a player who shines brightly like the sun in a cloudless sky. But what kind of baseball life awaits Jiro, who seems somewhat vulnerable and precarious with a dark shadow hanging over him? Since “Kozai” means “merits and demerits” in the original Japanese title of the manga, this manga will not be an easy success story. Hopefully Jiro can be genuinely happy that he chose to play baseball. Only then will this manga become a true masterpiece, a diamond in itself.



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