If combining moe characters, historical fiction and the great American pastime of baseball sounds like an impossible task, then one hasn’t seen Taishou Yakyuu Musume.
Based on a series of light novels, the series centers on a group of girls who, in Japan’s Taishou era (circa 1925) want to start a girl’s baseball team in an era when women are scolded for even running and the general sentiment is that they should be training to be housewives instead of going to school.
Though always considered an American sport, many fans often forget that baseball has an important spot in Japanese history, with games dating back at least as far as the events of Yakyuu Musume are concerned.
As far as combining the three said elements, it works here. The girls are cute in their attempts at going from knowing absolutely nothing about baseball, securing equipment, recruiting the necessary nine players from their high school (with the help of their foreign teacher who is remarkably fluent in Japanese), and trying to catch the ball without falling over — all in relative secrecy.
Along the way, viewers are treated to a historical picture of Japan — one that is undergoing change to appear more western, while still maintaining many Japanese customs. For example, the main character, Koume, and her family run a western-style restaurant, but she isn’t allowed to have a sailor outfit for her school uniform like many of her friends do, instead donning a more traditional kimono. For the casual viewer the visuals are an interesting change, and the history geek will have a field day with the historical details (accurate or not).
Visuals themselves are bright and sharp, combining Japanese tropes like cherry blossoms juxtaposed with western-style trains and buildings; kimonos and American (or British) business suits. The characters on the baseball team are somewhat cliched, with the noisy girl, the quiet girl, the flighty girl, and the over-the-top teacher/coach; but that doesn’t seem to hinder the narrative or interfere with characterization.
Taishou Yakyuu Musume could be thought of as a moe version of A League of Their Own, and whether one cares about baseball or not (or history, for that matter), even the casual anime fan should find something to like here. And for those that do like baseball and history — all the better.