[From April Issue 2014]
Kyojin no Hoshi (Star of the Giants)
“Kyojin no Hoshi” was published in Weekly Shonen Magazine between 1966 and 1971. During the period it was serialized, an animated TV version, movie adaptation and theatrical version were released. It all begins when HOSHI Hyuma, the main character, sets his sights on joining the Yomiuri Giants – a professional baseball team known as Kyojin-gun.
Hyuma, who lost his mother as a small child, lives with his father and older sister. His father, Ittetsu, once played for Kyojin-gun, but gave up his career as a player because of a war injury. Ittetsu tells Hyuma to “become a star with Kyojin-gun” and gives him specialized baseball training. To develop his muscles so that he can throw fast balls, Hyuma is constantly forced to wear a device called a “major league ball training brace.”
Raised with the aim that he becomes a major league pitcher, Hyuma grows to hate Ittetsu and baseball. Before long he has an encounter with his future rival, HANAGATA Mitsuru. Through this, he discovers what a great sport baseball is and decides to join Kyojin-gun.
Upon entering Seiun Senior High School, Hyuma meets BAN Chuta, who becomes a good friend. Later on they form a battery (a collective term for pitcher and catcher). They enter the National High School Baseball Tournament during which Hyuma breaks a nail while pitching against SAMON Hosaku, another rival. Although Hyuma directs powerful pitches at Hanagata – despite his bleeding finger – he loses the final.
Hearing about this injury, Hanagata praises Hyuma for being a formidable rival. He vows to beat Hyuma fair and square the next time. Hanagata and Samon join different professional teams in order to play against Hyuma who has joined Kyojin-gun, his dream team. However, it turns out that, as a pitcher, Hyuma has a fatal flaw. The ball lacks impact because of his small stature, so if the batter makes contact he can make a big hit.
Hyuma is devastated that he is too small to become a professional baseball player; this is a problem that can’t be overcome with effort. After an agonizing period, he comes up with the “Major League Ball No. 1;” a curve ball which deliberately strikes the bat to get an out. This technique is only possible for Hyuma, whose ball control is second to none thanks to the training he’s received from childhood. Meanwhile, Ittetsu becomes a coach for another team and stubbornly gets in Hyuma’s way.
Ittetsu sends Ozma, a former Major League player, to strike and beat the Major League Ball No. 1. Ball No.2, developed subsequently, beats Hanagata and No.3 beats Ban who has now become an adversary. Exhausted from his efforts, Ban falls to the ground and Ittetsu accepts Hyuma’s victory. By then, Hyuma’s left arm is damaged for good. With his career as a player cut short, Hyuma disappears off somewhere. Though he has burned himself out as a true “Giants’ star,” his achievement still sparkles to this day.
Text: HATTA Emiko