Watashi no Koshien volume 3 review

Sometimes it comes as a shock when a manga is cancelled. Sometimes it’s more of a mild surprise, because you could see the series declining but you didn’t think it was that bad yet. And then sometimes, as in the case of Watashi no Koshien, you can pinpoint the exact moment when the whole series began to fall apart. Volume 3 is the clearly the beginning of the end for this series, though it will continue to limp along for another two volumes before the merciful end.

To explain I’ll have to spoil a bit so spoiler warning. So, the Kugunari Nine manages to pull of a major upset at the beginning of this volume, defeating Seiryo 2-1. However the coach of the team they’re facing next was watching the game, and he’s picked up on some of pitcher Kouhei’s habits. While they’re practising hard to defeat Kugunari, Kouhei and his troops have let a little success get to their heads and are spending their days singing karaoke and their nights playing video games.

watashi no koshien 03_164+1The problem starts after they (predictably) lose by a called game in the 5th. See they didn’t just lose, they also embarrassed coach Wataya in front of her former teammates, and she is mad. How mad? So mad that she orders them to run 40km from the ball park back to the school. You could argue that she didn’t force them – merely told everyone who wouldn’t do it to quit the team. But why does it have to be an either-or thing? And why does it have to be so radical? What is this supposed to change? There are so many things wrong with that scenario. In the end not a single member manages to complete the course.

The parents are naturally outraged and the PTA bans Wataya from coaching the team any more. But here’s the issue. It would be one thing if this was a deconstruction of the hot-blooded shounen training-from-hell genre, but instead the writers actually try to justify Wataya’s behavior! Forcing tired, out-of-shape kids to run 40 km with no food and no water since morning just because they lost a match and embarrassed you? In a tournament they didn’t even want to play but you made them to? And by her own admission Wataya did it because “she was angry” and because “it’s necessary if we want to go go Koshien”!

watashi no koshien 03_183+1Now the “My, not Our Koshien” part of the series title starts to come out – it’s Wataya’s dream to go to Koshien again because of her dead buddy. The team members don’t even know about that stuff. Yet they’re the ones who have to play the game, they’re the ones who have to do the training. They’re just her tools, to be kicked around and tossed aside if they don’t work as she desires. To end to the volume she refuses to apologize because “If I apologize then it means I was wrong.” Uh, but you were wrong. “If I apologize then it means I can’t do it again.” Uh… you mean you want to do it again? Yes, yes she does.

And as I said this is all portrayed as right and proper and necessary if the team want to go to Koshien (which, as I said, they don’t). Some of the team members skip school for the next school days, not because they’re sick but because they’ve got a good excuse to. And that is used as justification to claim “See! It wasn’t that bad, was it?” That’s like stabbing someone and seeing him walking the next day and saying “See, being stabbed wasn’t that bad, was it?” It’s not for you to decide! Then the team manager decides she’s going to run the same 40km course, again to prove it wasn’t that bad. Again, that’s not for you to decide!

I suppose Watashi no Koshien could still salvage itself at this point. Maybe Wataya could learn that Koshien isn’t a dream you impose on people but a dream you share with others. And then they’ll all live happily ever after. The writers could also use this as an opportunity to discuss what, if anything, discipline should be administered to a team that loses because they’ve been slacking (but if they win after slacking then it’s a-okay), how much training is too much, what lengths a coach should go to motivate his/her team and other such pertinent questions of that nature. It’s not going to happen though – if it was certain in-story characters wouldn’t be going to such lengths to defend Wataya’s actions.

Honestly I’m not feeling very motivated to continue. But there are only 2 volumes left to the end (cancellation?) so maybe I’ll see it through. I’ll decide later.

 

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