I feel like I haven’t shown this off much here on the blog, but I’m a fairly passionate, overly optimistic sports fan, and I enjoy reading about, watching or playing them when I have the time (first two more than the latter though). And that’s probably because the majority of anime I watch or manga I read tends not to focus on sports. And whenever I do, they tend to be short, since it’s hard to start watching or reading something when it’s already x number of volumes/episodes down the line (this is what I keep telling myself as to why I haven’t started works like Cross Game or Ookiku yet. :v). This sort of means that it’s best to get me started early on in the work’s run, which happens to be the case in Baggataway, a manga about a high school woman’s lacrosse team.
I’m not sure if it’s a popular work in terms of it being serialized in Comic Blade, and as one of the first lacrosse-themed properties in anime and manga, it’s pretty niche as it is (though it increases the hope that there could possibly be a curling-themed manga in the future. My fingers are crossed). But for me, who knows of the sport (and who had played with a crosse back in middle school without really knowing what I was doing with it), but not how it’s played among other things, Baggataway is a good primer. And considering that most of the audience probably wouldn’t know how to play either, it’s a good thing as well. While the rules are undoubtedly more focused on woman’s lacrosse, which has several different rules than men’s field lacrosse, the general principles, techniques and terminology of the sport are present regardless.
What helps make the manga interesting are the cast of characters and the action on the field. While the series has a main character in Shizuki Utsugi, from the initial chapters that I’ve read, the focus is shared among the cast of characters in a decent way. Because most of the characters have interesting personalities and quirks, this is a good thing to me, especially because Utsugi’s happy, energetic, airheaded somewhat oddball-ish personality (think Pikari from Amanchu!, but with some more energy) would probably become grating if it was the dominant influence. As with plenty of sports manga focusing on the team, a nice set of strengths and weaknesses per person are present, as is the ever-present drive to get better while still having fun with it abound, and the humor, feel good vibes and “youth!” that keeps the game from being too serious business helps. But for me, the balance and interplay between the characters both on the field and off helps keep the work refreshing in my eyes.
With the lacrosse play, the manga-ka Iroha Kohinata does well to make the action fast-paced, yet easy to follow and breathtaking at some times, which does well to fit what’s called “the fastest sport on two feet.” And it’s kept grounded in reality, which helps make the feats of the Chikushi High School women’s lacrosse team and their opponents that much more great in my eyes.
3 volumes of the manga are currently out in Japan (the work started in 2008), and the first few chapters have been scanslated. While it might not be everyone’s cup-o’-tea, I do hope that more people check it out, since it’s fun times to be had (and the spats and leggings that the players wear are also d(“d) ). It definitely makes me want to try playing lacrosse for fun, at least.