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Beyond the Realm of Sports Drama: Grasping the Influence of the 2023 Broadcast of “Gekokujo Kyuuji.”

2023.12.15

#MOVIE

The television drama “Gekokujo Kyuuji,” currently airing in the TBS Sunday Theater slot and approaching its final episode, marks Ryohhei Suzuki’s second starring role in the Sunday Theater, following his previous role in “TOKYO MER~Emergency Room on the Run~” approximately two years ago. Based on the non-fiction work “Gekokujo Kyuuji” by Takahiro Kikuchi (published by Kanzen), the drama depicts the journey of Mie Prefectural Hakusan High School, a perennial underdog that had suffered ten consecutive defeats in the prefectural tournament’s first round, until their first-ever appearance at the Summer Koshien in 2018. It’s important to note that while the drama is based on a true story, all characters, schools, organizations, and the plot itself are fictional.

Although the narrative of a struggling high school baseball team making its debut at Koshien aligns with the typical sports drama genre, both lead actors, Ryohhei Suzuki and Hikari Mitsushima, emphasized from the outset that it is more than just a conventional sports drama. The drama, titled “Gekokujo Kyuuji,” began with the tagline “Dream Human Entertainment portraying various forms of love through high school baseball.” In light of this, let’s reflect on the significance of this drama that aired in 2023.

The Drama Adaptation of High School Baseball by the Female-Majority “Saiai” Team

🄫TBSスパークル/TBS
Ballplayers of Koshiyama High School Baseball Club🄫TBS Sparkle/TBS

Drama lovers may recall the recent “Old Rookie” (2022 / TBS), “No Side Game” (2019 / TBS), and “Roosevelt Game” (2014 / TBS) as dramas about sports in the Sunday theater. Furthermore, some may recall “The Theory of Kaisei High School Baseball Club” (2014 / NTV), “ROOKIES” (2008 / TBS), and “H2: Kimi to ita Hibi” (2005 / TBS) for dramas about high school baseball.

🄫TBSスパークル/TBS 撮影:ENO
🄫TBS Sparkle / TBS Photo by ENO

However, there is a major difference between these works and “Gekkokujo-Kyuu-Ji”. That is that the script, direction, and producer are all handled by women. All of the dramas listed here are written, directed, and produced by men (some of the directing is done by women). One might think that it would be a natural progression for men to serve as scriptwriters and directors, especially when the subject matter deals with men’s sports played by a group of men, since most of the performers will be men. However, female scriptwriters have long been active in drama production, not to mention Kuniko Mukoda and Hisakako Hashida, and they have naturally portrayed male protagonists in their works. Although gender should not have a significant impact on the portrayal of human beings (even if there are differences in perception, adjustments can be made based on the opinions of the opposite sex), women have never served as scriptwriters, directors, or producers in sports dramas, which are the core of drama productions. In this respect, this drama, written by Sadoko Okudera, directed by Ayuko Tsukahara, and produced by Junko Arai, is a milestone.

🄫TBSスパークル/TBS 撮影:ENO
Photo by ENO

However, of course, it is not because it is groundbreaking that they made a sports drama with a female main character. Speaking of Sadoko Okudera screenplay x Ayuko Tsukahara direction x Junko Arai producer, they are the famous tag team of “Night Ferris Wheel” (2013 / TBS), “For N” (2014 / TBS), “Rebirth” (2017 / TBS), and “Saiai” (2021 / TBS) that became a big hit and won a Galaxy Award After building up a track record step by step in TBS dramas, he was finally appointed to TBS’s signature slot, the Sunday Gekijo, for this film. Although high school baseball is a unique genre when juxtaposed with past works, all of the works they have worked together on in the past are dramas that are moving after carefully depicting human relationships, which is similar to “Gekijo Kyuji,” which depicts the honest growth of a weak baseball school without easy-to-understand romantic relationships or abrupt incidents. There is something about this film.

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