Scout Seishirou manga review

Norifusa Mita is fairly well-known in Japan for his seinen series, most of which revolve around sports. Western manga fans probably only know him for either Investor Z, which Crunchyroll has been releasing, or Dragon Zakura, which was so popular it even got made into a movie. I haven’t read Dragon Zakura and I don’t plan to do so immediately, but I do plan to follow more of Mita’s stuff because he writes a lot of… baseball manga. Yes, I’m still at it. Most of his stuff is fairly long, so I thought I’d cut my teeth on his shortest series, Scout Seishirou.

What happens to failed baseball players when they retire or get canned? If they’re like Seishirou Takemitsu, they go out and get a job like everyone else. Unfortunately Sei has never done anything except play baseball, so he’s terrible at his new job. That’s why he jumps at the chance when his old team hires him back as a baseball scout. Through the eyes of Seishirou, Norifusa Mita takes a look at the baseball scouting process in Japan, from finding a future star to drafting and signing him.

Scout Seishirou is only 2 volumes long, but it does give a taste of the kind of challenges scouts face when trying to sign a player. First off, if the player is any good then you’ll have to fight your way through a swarm of other team scouts to get him. So you want your player to have superstar talents, but at the same time you don’t want him to stand out too much, so it’s a bittersweet feeling when he does.

skFile008_sApart from competition from other teams, scouts also have to deal with opposition from the player’s family and also help the players overcome their own doubts about their abilities and about going pro. It’s a lot of legwork and traveling, and it’s also hard psychologically because you might go through the trouble of talking a player into wanting to sign for your team… then your team decides not to draft him after all. Not. Cool. But it’s part of being a scout. The manga did tackle (briefly) why teams might choose to sign one player over another even if they both seem equally talented. Attitude seems to have a lot to do with it.

The main character himself can be a bit annoying because he’s a bit timid and wishy-washy, but the manga establishes from the start that that’s his great character flaw and the reason why he quickly got cut from the majors. And he does get a bit better over the course of the series, if only because sitting on your bum whining is sure to get your player signed under you, and then what will you do?

It was an interesting introduction to life behind the scenes in a baseball team, though it did leave a few questions unanswered. Like, for example, how much do Japanese pro scouts make? Do they get any extra money if a player of theirs is signed? Does their stock fall in the company if their player turns out to be a dud?

If questions like that intrigue you, you might be better off reading about the Baseball Scout School the MLB runs in the Dominican Republic instead. But if you’re looking for a short, well-drawn and unexpectedly interesting introduction to the subject then definitely give Scout Seishirou a try. And now it’s time for me to move on to some of Norifusa Mita’s meatier stuff.

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