The Realities of Professional Baseball as Experienced by WBC Warriors… “Grazeni” Depicts “The Reality of Professional Baseball as Seen from the Perspective of Money
The 5th World Baseball Classic (WBC), a “baseball festival” held once every four years, has begun. The Samurai Japan team, which is regarded as the strongest of all time and includes such famous players as Shohei Otani (28), Yu Darvish (36), and Munetaka Murakami (23), the Triple Crown winner from Reiwa, has accumulated victories in the first round league, but can they win the long-sought championship? All of Japan is watching the fierce competition.
However, the players participating in the WBC are, of course, all top-notch. In other words, they are the “frontrunners” of the professional baseball world. However, the majority of professional baseball players do not participate in the WBC, nor are they in the spotlight. There is a manga that features such behind-the-scenes players of the professional baseball world. It is “Grazeni.
This is a baseball manga (original by Yuzi Moritaka, manga by Kintaro Adachi) that has been serialized irregularly in “Weekly Morning” since 2011. In 2012, the manga won second place in the “Otoko” section of “This Manga is Amazing! and won the 37th Kodansha Manga Award.
When one hears the word “baseball manga,” numerous masterpieces come to mind, starting with “The Star of the Giant,” which began serialization in 1966. When we think of professional baseball players, we tend to imagine that they are paid hundreds of millions of yen a year, drive foreign cars, and live in luxury apartments, but there are only a handful of such players. What this film focuses on is the “super-differentiated society” where salaries range from 2.4 million yen at the bottom to several hundred million yen at the top.
The title of the film, “Grazeni,” is an abbreviation of the phrase, “Zeni ga tsurazu wa shita ni shita” (There is always money on the ground), which was taken from a famous quote by Kazuto Tsuruoka, once a general of the Nankai Hawks. The main character is Natsunosuke Bonda, a relay pitcher for the Jingu Spiders, a professional baseball team that pays him 18 million yen a year in his eighth year as a professional high school graduate, which is not exactly the treatment of a “first-class pitcher. His special skill is that he can say the annual salaries of all the team’s first-round players.
The position of the professional baseball player is a low profile one, and there are no special moves or innovative plays in the story. The story depicts how the players face the harsh reality that they do not know how many years they will be able to play after 30, that some of them earn as little as 1 million yen a year after retirement, and that only a handful of them can become coaches or commentators after retirement. But that does not make the protagonist despicable. He believes that there is money to be found on the baseball field, and he is fighting in the professional world to face the reality that lies ahead of him. He is a businessman in the truest sense of the word.
By reading this work, you can learn about the “reality” of the professional baseball world, which is not just the spotlight of the WBC, and you will surely enjoy the WBC from a different perspective. Those of you who are fighting against reality as company employees, please pick up a copy of this work and cheer on the humble but realistic battles of Bonita.
The first episode of "Grazeni" is now available for free!
Interview and text by： Ajidouen