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Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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(Jul 13, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

The Award-winning PBS documentary!

* The only Western film ever to explore the Japanese Way of Baseball

* Experience the baseball culture that produced MLB superstars Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Hideki Matsui

* NEW! DVD extras include interviews with Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees, Author Robert Whiting, deleted scenes, and more

* An exciting way for your class to learn about Japan!

Taking Western viewers inside a never-before-seen world, Kokoyakyu (High School Baseball)" follows two schools of the 4,000 in Japan striving to make it to the National Championships at Koshien Stadium. Much more just than a game, this martial arts baseball has a deeper purpose: the forging of the spirit. Through the stories of two schools, the film brings audiences inside this closed world where an American game has become a Japanese discipline.

A Tale of Two Schools: Chiben is a private, powerhouse baseball academy led by Japan's most legendary tough-as-nails coach, Takashima. Over 35 years, Takashima has led his teams to Koshien a record 21 times, and won 3 National titles. Through extensive interviews we reveal the mindset of the man many Japanese consider a "living Samurai". His training regimen focuses not on technique, but rather on developing fighting spirit. In blistering heat or driving rain, the team trains at least 8 hours a day, 360 days a year.

The Chiben Cheer Squad is legendary throughout Japan, and their senior leader, Furukawa, explains why they too must train so hard. Whenever Chiben plays a game, they bring the cheer squad, the brass band, cheerleaders, and most of the student body (one thousand strong). Chiben enters the Wakayama tournament as defending champions and coasts through their first few games. But in the world of high school baseball, there are no "sure things".

Tennoji is one of the top public schools in Osaka, and students must pass a rigorous exam to get in. Their baseball coach, Masa-sensei , explains how high school baseball will train his students' hearts for life outside baseball. All the same, everybody dreams of Koshien. With such an intense focus on academics, baseball is squeezed into the early morning or late afternoon. Nevertheless, they practice year-round, six days a week -- before and after school hours -- as well as during vacations, with financial support from their alumni."

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: CustomFlix
  • DVD Release Date: July 13, 2006
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GYI2H8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,024 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Being a huge sports fan, I've seen a lot of sports documentaries in my life but this is one of the best I've ever seen. In my opinion, Kokoyakyu is better than even Hoop Dreams, and I think Hoop Dreams is a great, great film. Kokoyakyu captures the essence of not only Japanese sports, but Japanese society as well.

You'll find yourself rooting for the two teams featured in this film, especially the team with the always supportive and energetic kantoku (head coach/manager). If this movie doesn't move you to tears in the end, then you need to check your pulse.

This is a must-see for all baseball fans, but casual sports fans will enjoy it as well.
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I saw the last half of this on TV last summer, I thought it was really interesting how they used baseball to relate the culture of America to Japan. Really, it was just a story about high school baseball in Japan, but in their dedication and hard work you can see the values that define the Japanese culture. It was dramatic and emotionally moving in parts, and that was one thing I really liked about it. It sends a heartfelt message to the viewer and that is what made me want to buy it to see the whole film.
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I loved the way the movie followed the passion of the 2 very different teams, and how they each dealt with elimination in very different ways. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to gain new insights into the heart of baseball in Japan. High school baseball is not life or death in Japan -- it is bigger than that. Well done!
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If the love of baseball runs through your blood and you want to see a broader view on how the game viewed in a different part of the world you would enjoy this movie. It is true that the subtitles can be cumbersome, but if you can get past that then I would recommend this movie. I believe that part of the reason that we Americans love baseball is that it embodies many virtues that we carry with us in our lives. As culture has changed so has the way we have viewed the game. Some of it for the better.....some of it for the worse. In any case, the virtues of hard work, team work, persistence, overcoming adversity and other virtues are still on full display in the great game of baseball. This movie shows the Japanese culture's respect for these virtuous lesson's through the mundane way they prepare for an all important Country Wide High School Baseball Tournament. Players getting up at predawn hours to get to practice is just one small example. The various conversations and interviews with the players and the coaches shows a pure love of the game and the high drama that ensues when a young man is faced with the conclusion of his High School Baseball career. The player and coach reflections as the end the end draws near are poignant and nice moments. My favorite moment in the film is when one coach announces the roster for his team for the tournament and selects the last player on the roster....the player has nominal skill but a great work ethic. The praise from the coach and the sincere reaction from the player were the highlights of the movie for me. This movie is not for everyone...but if you love the game...you would enjoy adding this movie to your collection.
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