Higuchi Asa's interview from TBS Radio show “Sunday Sports Manager”, 2010/3/28.
I:So, this week's guest is Higuchi Asa! Hello, nice to meet you.
H:Nice to meet you.
I:Good evening, I look forward to working with you.
H:I look forward to this interview.
I:Higuchi Asa, you're a woman, why are you writing a baseball manga?
H:You see, I'm really sorry but my cue (to start) was a manga, Dokaben.
I:Oh, you liked Dokaben.
H:Yes, I did.
H:I used to watch it on tv, when the anime started, and I liked thepitcher character called Satonaka...
I:Aah, he was charming and cool...
H:That's right! So when I started to collect the manga I realized "Ah,so they really do the Koushien thing!"
I:What?! You saw it in a manga first and now you are actually into highschool baseball.
H:Yes! I used to play softball when I was in middle and high school,but...
I:Oh, so you did play yourself!
H:I did! I had wanted to get into the real thing~
I:And what were you fascinated by when you looked at that Satonaka-kun?
H:Well, I liked Satonaka-kun as a character, but Yamada-kun, hisleading is so difficult!
I:That put Satonaka-kun in a difficult spot and as reaction he threwleft handed... And the protagonist, Dokaben as the catcher... (*note:Yamada = catcher = Dokaben)
H:Yes, and then they figured out they could get the batter out usinghis control and his curve balls. I found that the way they used theirheads was very interesting. There were many "strategy"moments when I was like "Woah, this is interesting!"
I:So you thought to put that in your own manga.
H:Yes, that's why I often hear the kids say it's a "texty"baseball manga and things like that, but I try as best to put rhythminto the art.
I:When we were little, we had the ideal of Kyojinno Hoshi (well, Dokaben, too, of course), but we were leftwondering "is this really possible?" I mean, Dokaben'scharacters are all pretty peculiar...
H:Yes... It was first Kyojin no Hoshi, then Dokaben and then there wasCaptain: Ifelt them all as very "real". How to put it, I felt like Icould enter their world, too, they made me want to just take the balland play.
I:Ookiku Furikabutte is different from all the previous baseballmanga...
H:Aah, but I think it's just the current times. It's not just my manga,if you look at other recent baseball manga, you don't see muchfantasy or impossible-to-hit pitches, everyone fights with normalstrategy and type of pitches.
I:How do you plan on showing your Higuchi Asa uniqueness, then?
H:Well, this is what I ended up doing, but... I collect my data bymixing in with the parents association.
I:The parents association??
I:Then, you pretend to be one of the mothers?
I:So you go there and learn stories...
H:Yes, that's it.
I:While you watch high school baseball.
I:And that's your way of collecting data..?
H:The mothers are a wealthy source of information. For example, therewas this first year being filmed, and when he turned towards us Ithought "Oh, he's so cool even though he's still a first year!",but then I heard what his mother said about him, like "He'sstill watching Kamen Rider, you know"
H:and I could only say, like "Oh, that's right, the boys reallylike Kamen Rider!"...
I:I guess baseball isn't at the center of their lives yet, after all,is it?
H:Yes, that's right... I really understood that there are still a lotof childish sides to the players, by asking what they're like athome. And then, when they're on the grounds, they all look cool,right? I find that gap really interesting and I think it's somethingthat can "complete" the characters inside my head as fullpersons, so I want to pay attention to these details.
Inmanga drawn by men, even if the mothers appear, they're never lively,energetic mothers. They're not realistic, always stereotypes. That'ssomething that may make me different from other authors because I'm awoman.
There'ssomething else I realized by doing this (=mixing with the moms) andthat's how much high school boys change from being first years tothird years. Like, when you realize"Waah, he's become soreliable!". I want to draw the growth that leads there!
I:Maybe the fact that it's seen through the eyes of a woman makes itthe same as looking at a child's growth from the mother's point ofview.
H:Yes, and that's a big thing, right?
I:What sort of things, out of what you saw, ended up being adapted intothe real thing?
H:For example, the atmosphere after losing. Everyone has to saysomething, but the words they say in such a moment are like "THANKYOU VERY MUCH"... Boys that had always stayed on the bench startthinking it's their last goodbye to baseball, like "even thoughI couldn't become really good, even though I couldn't play in a realgame, I'm glad I kept playing for these 3 years", that'ssomething that really strikes me. If you look at the sentences, it'sjust common words, but you've been watching that boy play for 3years, and then not being able to become a regular, and so hecouldn't play even one game in 3 years, but everyday he'd still trainand he'd be really good friends with the third years...I'm excitedinspired to show this! Something that makes you think "Aah, theybecame such a good team/such good friends".
I:I see, I see.
H:I want to make the readers taste that kind of feeling.
I:Also, you've inserted things like mental training and psychology-likeelements in the story...
H:Yes, I researched that, too. You see, when training everyone playswell, but during a game (things are different), for example if theace fails, it's the worst time to cry, but tears just pour down in awaterfall. I think that things like this don't depend on how muchphysical training you've had, it's rather a mental problem. And it'ssomething you can only experience in a real game while being underpressure. I was thinking with all my might about this problem and Idiscovered there is a field called "mental training", so Ithought of introducing it in a casual way.
Ithought it'd be good to spread it more among high school students,too, even just the concept that "there is a way not to feelunder pressure!" to be understood... Because in a real gamethere's a constant tension of making errors and having to say goodbyeto everything, so "if they could just be able to play at theirbest..." is what I think. So I looked into it (mental training)and made a through research so that I won't write incorrectinformation.
I:We're looking forward to it either way!
H:There are many intricate rules involved, so it might be hard to startusing it in practice, but once you do, you can find a lot of newstrategies, really, it could influence the team's dynamics and havequite the positive impact on the chances of winning. Naturally itdepends on each team and that's also something I really enjoy seeing.
I:How did you choose the title Ookiku Furikabutte?
H:I was very hesitating about this title, really. I like it now, but...I couldn't come up with anything betterand I didn't really care about the title, so I just went with OokikuFurikabutte *laughs*.The company seemed to be okay with it as well,so just based on that I decided to go ahead with that name as thetitle my manga.
I:What about professional baseball? How do you look at it when watchingit on tv, listening to it on the radio, or going to the stadium?
H:Well, I basically just... watch. I pay special attention do thedefence positions. They're different for every pitcher, so (when Inotice) I go "oooh interesting!"
H:I think things like, "ah, they're really relying on/trustingthis pitcher!"
I:So right now which pitcher and exactly what about him are you payingspecial attention to?
H:Oh, last year they were very active and now I'm observing the RakutenEagles closely...
I:I understand, I understand. Then you like Tanaka's full of energypitches, the fighting spirit.
H:Yes, there's that and... Iwakuma. Really, I blame everything on him*laughs*
I:Oh you like his looks?
H:Not his looks, I like how he steadily walked through his path, how heovercame his injury... He also changed his pitching, did you see?
I:It's more natural now.
H:I went to see one of his games when he played in high school baseballand I thought "HE'S SO BIG" hehehe
H:He was in WCB together with Wakui,right? I went to see the National team playing and all the playerscame out (of the match) quite limp, but Wakui was in great shape!
H:Ah, he's a real pitcher..!
I:You're a scout!! A professional baseball scout!
H:*laughs* It's not like I go around telling people "please comeover to our mighty Seibu Lions".
H:Yeah, you know, the Lions are from my place, so... I also likeOkawari-kunvery much...
I:Is that so?
H:But, really, I watch professional baseball without cheering for anyparticular team, because, you know, watching a pro baseball match isjust so interesting!
H:You think "they're so good!!", the coaches' gestures arealso interesting, because everyone is so different. I really learn alot from it and it's just purely fun!
I:Well, if you could tell us who will win, since you're here.
H:*laughs*That's a bit...!
I:You're so knowledgeable about baseball, you're at a scout's level!So, which team do you predict stands a chance to win this year'sPacific League?
H:Let me see, what I hope is...Maybe... Ah, but it's a bit... Well, theRakuten Eagles... I can't see the strategy pattern yet, so I can'treally tell, but if you look at team's potential...
I:The Rakuten Eagles, then?
H:I think they will make things interesting. As for the CentralLeague... well... I wonder if the Giants will make it *laughs*
I:*laughs* What with Yoshinobustarting as 8th. (*note: Yoshinobu suffered a hip injury)
H:Yes *laughs* They've strengthened up a lot and now they're blooming,but I'm sure they must be under a lot of pressure.
I:At the end of the day, baseball is really fun is I think.Higuchi-sensei, I hope that you will continue on as well-
H:Yes I hope so too! I hope that the number of people who enjoybaseball will increased- rather, the number of people who enjoysports in general will increase.
I:Yes, that's true!
H:I'm writing in hopes that it'll be good if someday, sports will be aenjoyed around the world without boundaries!
I:Today's guest was, the artist who is writing Ookiku Furikabutte,Higuchi Asa-san.
H:Thank you for having me!