NHK Animations X Tokyo Paralympics 2020

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Drew_Sutton
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NHK Animations X Tokyo Paralympics 2020

Post by Drew_Sutton » Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:14 pm

Goofing off on reddit's Judo subreddit, a couple of days ago, someone linked to a subtitled piece for the upcoming 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo next summer, focusing on a judoka who loses most of her sight to juvenile glaucoma and how she starts to learn how to do judo again so she can compete in a vision impaired capacity. I watched it and thought it was cool, so I started doing a little digging around. NHK Animations is commissioning a few pieces for broadcast and they are working with some known anime and manga quantities for the little series.

Here is the preview piece that gives some detail on a few of the shorts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O2urucyjcA

Episode 1: Football-5-a-Side - by Takahashi Youichi, who wrote the manga Captain Tsubasa, a very prolific soccer manga from the 1980s (and had an anime run from I think 1983 - 86, plus several OAV spinoffs and sequels in the 90s and early 2000s). It details a paralympic soccer match and how teams can play with visual impairment.

Episode 2: Para Athletics - by Kubonouchi Eisaku. Kubonouchi isn't a sports manga guy, his piece tells a dramatic story about an amputee runner.

Episode 3: Wheelchair Tennis - is based on characters created by Katsuki Hikaru, from the manga/anime Baby Steps. Baby Steps tells the story of a young student who decides he isn't getting enough exercise and joins the tennis club, where he then has to play his heart out for his teammates (I'm sure). In the Paralympic short, the main character from Baby Steps plays against a player who uses a wheelchair.

Episode 4: Goalball features characters from that impossible to remember manga that we'll just call KochiKame (NHK, thankfully, abbreviates it to that). Goalball is a sport for visually impaired people that is similar to dodgeball. The premise here is that the cops from the station where KochiKame takes place are providing venue security, and they've come to check it out since they don't know what Goalball is. Ryo, the main character, is his usual bumbling self. Family comedy antics ensue.

Episode 5: Wheelchair Rugby features characters created by Chiba Tetsuya, who did Ashita No Joe. I really dig this short - Chiba's designs and the script really play up how rough and rugged this sport can be. I mean, able-bodied rugby is rough and according to this, wheelchair version is just as rough. Fitting that someone who's probably most famous work is a boxing manga plays up a violent edge to this sport. This short has a lot of Dezaki Osamu homages (thanks to Chiba's distinct style) - speed lines, watercolor freezeframes, etc. Really recommend this one.

Episode 6: Vision Impaired Judo by Kawai Katsutoshi. Kawai wrote a very successful judo manga in the 1980s, Obi 'o Gyuutone! (I don't know that I can translate that one), running about 30 tankouban. I mentioned the story above and I like this short very much. It does a very good job of explaining how vision impaired judo works compared to able-bodied Olympic judo.

I like these shorts overall - partially because I like being exposed to all sorts of sports anime and manga - but also it bridges a gap between how different sports work for disabled people or just different sports existing entirely. I am sure NHK got a few yen of Cool Japan money from the government and some from the JOC to help promote the Paralympics, since ratings tend to drop off for those events, but I think teaming with some powerhouse mangaka to put these pieces together with some name recognition really helps make a good, solid end product and gets people (at least like me) talking about it.
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