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Reality Meets Art
ehimeorange.jpgSince some of you responded to the photo of Ehime FC's mascot the Orange in that post of photos I did a while back >>click to see page, I thought I'd follow up with information on the related manga before I forgot.

orange11manga.jpgOrange was published between 2001 and 2004 in the issues of Shukan Shonen Champion (weekly manga magazine), and now exists as a 13 part book series >>click to see covers of the 13 books. It was created by Tatsuki Nohda -- The story of a poor weakling club owned by a high school girl and it's main character star striker Musashi Wakamatsu as it fights its way to the first division (F league). The club is in dire straits at the beginning of the story, just as Musashi returns from Brazil and joins the club in order to fulfill a promise he made. If the club doesn't make it to F1 (first division) at the end of the season, the club would be finished.

What has made it attractive to readers is the amount of attention it pays to the supporter culture as well as the way the author involves the typical problems encountered by J clubs -- financial problems, injuries to key players, foreign players who turn out to be duds, problems with players getting pulled out for National team duties. The club is poor, and the city of Nanyo has to financially support a big chunk of the club, even while the Mayor of Nanyo is 100% a football-hater. In general the author sets up a host of characters who are laden with the ironic, but depicted with affection.

Ehime FC and Orange

The club, called Nanyo Orange, is an Ehime club (apparently the city of Nanyo is modelled after Yawatahama City), but its relationship to the real-life Ehime FC (which just made it to the J2 this season) doesn't end there. Ehime FC's mascot (pic above, the Orange), was designed by author Nohda. The mascot is similar but not identical to that of Nanyo Orange. And though Ehime FC had been using club colors of blue and white until 2005, they switched to orange after they joined up with Nohda.

orange_nohda.jpgAuthor Nohda also has drawn a bunch of caricatures for Ehime FC's supporters to decorate their area. In the pic left, you see the author himself standing by one of his works. He is often spotted attending games, and keeps a >>personal blog in which he posts thoughts and photos.

This is one of those manga that will not find international acclaim the way Captain Tsubasa has, the subject matter being way too Japan-specific in nature. It isn't even known inside Japan. But in a way, if you follow the J league, it could be fun because the author plays around with real examples.

SEGA joins in the fun

The naming of "F-league" was taken from Sega's version of the popular video game Sakatsuku -- in which you become an owner of a football club (my brother is currently in year 150 or something like that, so apparently it is addictive). SEGA returned the favor by including a character from Orange in it's 2004 Sakatsuku version -- the main character Musashi.
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