Kodansha, one of Japan’s largest publishers, said, “We’ll be adapting the story of Kyojin no Hoshi (Star of the Giants) to cricket.”
Initially, they aim to break into the Indian market with 26 or 52 episodes of a weekly TV series starting in the fall of 2012.
Anime is lucrative, with the Japan External Trade Organization calling it a multi-billion dollar business. The Animation Market Analysis Project reported on September 9 that the market for domestic and foreign animation in Japan grew 5.8% to 229.0 billion yen (about $2.55 billion) in 2010. This was the second annual increase in a row after a 1.6% increase the previous year.
In a nation crazy about baseball, Kyojin no Hoshi first came out in 1966 as a sports manga written by Ikki Kajiwara and drawn by Noboru Kawasaki. In 1968, it was adapted as the first sports anime TV series. Since then, the story has enjoyed enduring success, inspiring three different Japanese TV series and a reissue and updating of the series in 2006 in the Weekly Shonen Magazine.
The hero, Hyuma Hoshi, comes from a poor family and the show depicts his struggles as he tries to rise through the ranks as a baseball player. He dreams of becoming a top star like his father, Ittetsu Hoshi, in the professional Japanese leagues. But Ittetsu was injured in World War II and was forced to retire. The boy joins the Giants, and he soon goes through exhausting training to battle his rival in the Hanshin Tigers. The artists depict him as going beyond what is physically possible by dramatizing pitches and wind-up sequences.
How will this go over in India?
Although India has a massive comics industry, it has its own traditions and a number of popular characters, and because much of it is in English, it has been subjected to foreign influence, particularly from the United States. Superheroes have become firmly imbedded in Indian comic book lore. Whether a struggling kid from Mumbai who wants to make it as a cricket star can cut it in the Indian comic book circuit remains to be seen.
The Indian version will be called Rising Star. The hero, who has tentatively been given the name of Salaji, is a young, left-handed southpaw cricketer who wants to follow in the footsteps of his cricket player father and make it in the big leagues.
TMS Entertainment, a Japanese company, will be doing the initial scripts and storyboards and handling the early production process, and it will be hooking up with local Indian studios for later parts of the production.
How well it succeeds will depend on how well Kyojin no Hoshi can be “Indianized,” and how well the Kodansha staff understands cricket. It is a game that has been played in England since around 1300, and a test match can last five days, not just nine innings.