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Princess Nine and “Tradition”

princess nine group photo

When I first started Princess Nine, I was warned by others that it wasn’t overly concerned with baseball as it was with drama. Part of this is correct, as nearly all of the girls’ individual narratives have little to do with the actual sport of baseball. However, in a more nebulous way, Princess Nine has everything to do with baseball, because baseball in Japan is tradition. In fact, there’s a funny little quote attributed to the Japan Tourism Organization that Japanese people are often surprised to discover that the United States considers baseball its “national pastime.”

A lot of what Princess Nine aims to achieve is rooted in overcoming deep seated notions of tradition or family. Instead of looking at the series through a strictly feminist lens – it is girls playing baseball against boys, after all, so this option is rather easy – perhaps it would be better served with the framework of tradition above all, and what breaking preexisting tradition, or perceived familial obligation, entails. Hint, this also has a little to do with that aforementioned feminist lens.

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Princess Nine: Calling Ryo’s Pitches

ryo princess nine, princess nine ryo hayakawa, princess nine episode 2, ryo hayakawa

What makes a truly great catcher is unfortunately tricky to identify with statistics. There are the obvious things like caught stealing percentages, and the offensive side of the plate is covered the exact same way as any other position; however, the nuances of a particularly excellent catcher involve an eye test that’s unquantifiable.

Good catchers earn the trust of their counterparts on the mound, forming a battery that when working together is often unstoppable. With the pitcher performing the action, a strong catcher will act as their brain, calling their pitches in a specific manner tailored to outsmart whoever steps into the batter’s box. The trust of a pitcher is crucial here, because all it takes is one hit to disrupt a battery’s communication – pitchers are known for being finicky, nervous creatures. Once the pitch is called, the catcher’s job is not done. Aside from their actual function of an at-bat – catching the ball, as per the position’s title – top-tier catchers will frame the ball in a manner that gives them the best possible chance of having a strike called in their favor. If you don’t believe me, watch a bit of tape from this year’s World Series and compare Kansas City’s Salvador Perez to the Mets’ Travis d’Arnaud. The latter was far more artful with this particular skill than the former.

Our lead character of Princess Nine is not a catcher, but a pitcher. More importantly, she’s a pitcher who, as of the series’ second episode, will instantly override her partner behind the plate.

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