“The Start of a Dream”
Story: Mikiyasu Kamada
Art: Ashibi Fukui
Translation: Camellia Nieh
Lettering: Snir Aharon
What They Say:
Hakuo Gakuin’s mighty baseball team consistently makes it to Koshien, and Tamao Azukida dreams of making the team. To achieve his goal, Tamao does extensive research and undergoes a strict daily training regimen. But at tryouts, Tamao meets the enigmatic genius pitcher Tao Ryudo, and the course of his destiny may be forever changed! If people aren’t laughing, then you’re not dreaming big enough! A new baseball tale for the era begins!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
There’s been one thing that’s been lacking in Weekly Shonen Jump lately. Ever since Haikyu!! ended, there hasn’t been a sports manga to fill the roster. That all changes with the arrival of the Nine Dragons Ball Parade, a riveting baseball manga. A newcomer to the world of manga, Mikiyasu Kamada has some tough shoes to fil. This isn’t Ashibi Fukui’s first time at the rodeo as they have previously drawn a baseball manga. At the very least, they know what they in for with the difficult world of baseball.
Tamao Azukida is a timid boy who has valued safety for most of his life. But he has always been watching baseball and wants to get his turn at the big leagues. Hakuo Gakuin stands at the pinnacle of high school baseball and they have been number one for various years. Tamao decides that enough is enough and gets in shape for baseball. Two years have passed and he’s ready for the world. He’s taken a scientific approach to get a body that meets the minimum requirements for baseball. As part of that scientific approach, he also thoroughly research all of his possible teammates and opponents. I feel pleasantly surprised that a time skip has happened and it passed all the gritty work. He filling in all the right boxes for the protagonist of a sports manga.
It’s time for the tryouts and all the big names are there. It’s a tough crowd for Tamao to distinguish himself. He runs into a dimwit, Tao Ryudo, who isn’t exactly aware of the harsh tryouts. Only a third of the crowd is going to make it to the next round. They end up passing the physical fitness part by the skin of their teeth. Though there is more than meets the eye with Tao as his physical fitness shows him to be proficient.
Some habits are hard to get over as Tamao’s meekness still remains. The next part of the tryout stage is a baseball game. Regrettably, none of the other players pay any attention to his signals and let the hitters make a bunch of home runs. He gets blamed for their mistakes and when he tries to defend himself, one ugly look from them makes him sit back down in shameful silence. Ryo makes Tamao’s presence known as he steps up to the plate. He uses his advanced skills to demonstrate how Tamao’s knowledge makes a difference. Tamao’s skills finally get acknowledged by the rest of the players and they win the game. But it’s not enough to impress the coach and his long wanted dream is crushed to pieces. Ryo was accepted to the Hakuo team but he rejects the offer. He wants to team up with Tamao to create the best team ever. One dream is crushed but the birth of a new one shines brightly. This is the stuff of legends.
One of the coaches for Hakuo comes off as snobbish when he rejects Tamao and that is perfect for this series. When his rejection speech turns into a superiority complex speech it’s akin to the typical villain laugh when they think victory is afoot. He does give a logical reason for why Tamoa didn’t get accepted but didn’t need to rub it in so hard. It sets him and by default, Hakuo, as a hated rival that Tamao and Ryo will have to overcome one day. Even without this coach, it’s needed that Tamao and Ryo get a glimpse of the top.
Ashibi Fukui has a flair for drawing baseball manga and it’s gorgeous. Their past experiences shine through to make this manga a wonderful read. How they capture the movements of various baseball activities is stunning. Take the image above this paragraph for example. Look at how stupendous they draw Ryo throwing a baseball. It brings the breathtaking life that baseball is known for into these pages.
This series hits it right out of the ballpark with this magnificent first chapter. Tamao is such a lovely protagonist and is going to be a great person to watch as he grows in the world of baseball. He has an incredible spirit who is fighting his hardest to move forward. He has wonderful chemistry with Tao as they engage in the joyous sport of baseball. Tao has incredible talents and it’s going to be sublime watching him push Tamao even further.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: February 14, 2021