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Contesting the Myths of Samurai BaseballCultural Representations of Japan's National Pastime$
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Christopher T. Keaveney

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455829

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455829.001.0001

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Coming Home: Portraying Japanese Baseball on the Silver Screen

Coming Home: Portraying Japanese Baseball on the Silver Screen

(p.61) 3 Coming Home: Portraying Japanese Baseball on the Silver Screen
Contesting the Myths of Samurai Baseball

Christopher T. Keaveney

Hong Kong University Press

Chapter 3 examines the long history of baseball films in Japan, a tradition nearly as old as the history of Japanese cinema itself. After a brief survey of the early history of cinema in Japan, a tradition whose history parallels that of the game of baseball chronologically, the study focuses on early shomingeki films and explores how baseball became an important marker of domesticity and middle class respectability in this genre of film in the 1930s. The chapter then examines several pivotal films in the postwar era, examining how baseball was used alternately to perpetuate a national hero in Suzuki Hideo’s Immortal Pitcher (1955) or to chart the corruption and greed surrounding professional baseball as in Kobayashi Masaki’s I Will Buy You (1956). In the 1960s and 1970s, as young filmmakers arose to challenge the dominance of the great postwar filmmakers and to produce often avant-garde and politically charged films that reflected an international challenge to the hegemony of Hollywood films, the baseball film was again adopted as a means to offer that challenge. Ōshima Nagisa’s Ceremonies, in a film that contests the very concept of the baseball film, uses baseball as a metaphor for the Japan’s abandonment of its citizens during the war. The recent splatter comedy baseball films of Yamaguchi Yūdai likewise play with the familiar tropes of Japanese baseball and of the baseball hero as antihero in problematizing the very concept of the baseball film.

Keywords:   Shomingeki, Koshien High School Baseball Tournament

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