kimi to itahibi

Team Senkawa

I’m sorry. I’m going to make it up to everyone here and now. My original post on H2 sucked, and I’ll tell you why it sucked: I never finished the series. I started with the original manga by Mitsuru Adachi that ran in the 90’s, but I stopped reading at the first Koshien tournament. Then I watched the anime, but the anime ends at about the same plot point so I never knew what happened after Hiro’s first year at Senkawa. I finally finished watching the eleven episode live action version of H2, and I’m impressed with both the adaptation and the resolution of Hiro and Hideo’s competition.

Long and slightly spoilerific post so click more for more.

Let’s begin with the story. At its heart, H2 is a love story with baseball as a medium for telling it. If the story were any old shounen harem comedy, Hitomi would be the girl next door for Hiro. Unfortunately, this series is neither about harems or comedy. Hiro was always runt-like and obsessed with baseball growing up so the girls never paid any attention to him, even Hitomi. In middle school, she asked Hiro to set her up with Hiro’s friend, Hideo, and ever since then, Hiro’s been the odd one looking into their relationship. Hiro’s best line for describing it was, “By the time I grew up, all the good girls [i.e. Hitomi] had boyfriends.”

But he supported them both, and Hideo, Hiro, and their mutual friend Noda formed a formidable core that won the junior championships; however, after winning, Hiro and Noda found out that they have injuries that they cannot play baseball anymore. Hideo and Hitomi went to a major baseball magnet school, Meiwa. Hiro and Noda went to a school without a baseball team, Senkawa, and, in trying to start over again, Hiro joins the soccer team.

One day, Hiro saves a damsel in distress, Haruka, who happens to love baseball. So much so that she is the manager and de facto leader of the baseball circle (think Genshiken, but with baseball otaku), and she desperately wants her team to play an actual game. In order to get a game, she makes a deal with the leader of the soccer team, Kuni, that if the soccer team wins, she would switch and become their manager. Kuni and the rest of the soccer team exhibit poor sportsmenship and torments the baseball circle… to the point that Hiro and Noda switch teams before the game ends and joins Haruka’s ragtag squad. It was to be the duo’s final game.


Only afterwards, Hiro and Noda find out that the doctor who diagnosed them was a fraud, and the two are 100% healthy. The mull joining Meiwa, but they are conscripted by Haruka to play one more game for Senkawa… to save their squad. Even though their squad is generally outmatched, Hiro sees their pure love for baseball and their great teamwork. After playing that game, Hiro realizes what he wants. Not only does he want to go to Koshien, he wants to face Hideo there, and, more importantly, settle his feelings for Hitomi there. Thus, Hiro stays at Senkawa.

The series goes through their times through high school together, and throughout the story, Hiro and Hitomi cope with their feelings for each other. Hideo and Haruka end up looking in, as both are envious of Hiro and Hitomi’s long friendship. Like the baseball games themselves, it is rarely clear who wins whose love. As Hiro says, “let me show you a game without a time limit.” And, as the ending shows, there wasn’t any time limit to their feelings either.

Making the impossible… possible

Hiro ends up being the focus of the series. He is the ace pitcher who is happiest when he’s around baseball and is an all around good guy. He wants the best for his friends and is generally willing to sacrifice for them, and this trait became his fault as it prevents him from acknowledging his feelings for Hitomi. He loves baseball, and Hitomi’s father comments that if anyone wrote a story about baseball and Hiro, “even if it’s a sandlot game, it’ll be a good story.” He has a huge aura around him that screams, “I make the impossible… possible.”

(The title of the series, H2, refers to the two heroes, Hiro and Hideo though it can also be for Haruka and Hitomi. Fittingly, Hiro, which sounds like “hero” in English, and Hideo, which means “hero” in Japanese, end up in America and Japan respectively.)

Hideo and Hitomi get an eyecatch

Hideo gets less screentime, and he’s the quiet, tall, dark, and strong type. He’s the big time hitter who wants to go pro. He acts like he trusts and believes in Hitomi, but his jealously of Hiro’s relationship with her eats him up inside. It finally boils over in a crescendo at the end when he challenges Hiro to settle it, once and for all, using baseball. The object of their affections, Hitomi, is an aspiring sports writer, and ends up torn between the two men. While she loves Hideo, why does she always end up in Hiro’s embrace when she’s distraught?

I like the page in the dictionary where she stuck the picture

The “newcomer” is Haruka, who inexplicably loves baseball, and Hiro eventually becomes her Prince Charming, as he saves her beloved baseball club. Even though she has every reason to be jealous of Hitomi, she acts strong and cheers Hiro on irregardless… the most telling of which was at the end, when a victory at Koshien would mean Hiro’s victory for Hitomi… and Haruka still cheers him on. Definitely the most likable and upbeat character, and I like her quote for when she and Hiro end up meeting at separate places for a date, “The time waiting is still part of the date.”

While baseball and their interrelationships are the core of the story, there’s also a lot of subplots. The jdrama includes fewer of these, but the major ones, such as traitorous duo and the death of a family member, are included. Also, I was happy to see Yakami’s backstory included as well… how the team turns his father, the principal, from a hater of baseball to their biggest fan is a great one. I had almost forgotten about Yakami’s “flu” game. :) Also, they tried to balance out Kuni, but he ends up looking like a raving lunatic. In the original, he ends up helping the team a lot as he would pitch the “easier” games to save Hiro’s arm… this doesn’t show up in the live action version except that they mention that Kuni practices his pitching on his off days. He may seem like a big jerk on the outside, he’s a great teammate on the inside.

All-in-all, it’s a great story and after viewing it so many times in the different mediums, I have it somewhat memorized. The lead-off is a fantastic Mighty Ducks-like sports drama while the later innings become an emotional rollarcoaster. By the time the series ended, baseball became an afterthought as the winner of the Koshien tournament isn’t revealed until 30 minutes after Hiro threw his last pitch against Hideo and only revealed in a passing manner. My biggest fear when starting to watch H2 Kimi to Itahibi was how possibly could they butcher it. Surprisingly, they didn’t.


Normally, I’m not a fan of jdrama, and I’m even more wary of any manga to jdrama conversations. In the past, the only one that really worked was Great Teacher Onizuka. Others failed big time like You’re Under Arrest, which bared no resemblance its manga roots and sullied all the characters involved. I’m glad to say that the live action H2 stayed true to its roots, with a slight twenty-first centuary makeover. The manga was almost like a storyboard for the series, and, as an example, here’s a scene from the manga and from the live action series. Hiro just lost at the first Koshien tournament, and he ends up having Hikari comfort him… only they don’t know that Haruka was looking for them all night and stumbled into their embrace.

Volume 22, Chapter 5, Page 99
Episode 7

When I first heard it was only eleven episodes, I didn’t think they could fit everything into the time allowed, and there were things cut. The most noticeable cut is the baseball; in the manga, baseball was approached the same way as bread in Yakitate Japan… every rule, strategy, and tactic was analyzed and dissected. The live action H2 is fairly sparse with the games, and it assumes that people know most of the baseball involved whereas the manga tried to educate about baseball. For example, in the crucial final at bat for Hideo against Hiro in their last Koshien, Hiro knows he can strike out Hideo if he uses a trick pitch, but for the sake of their battle, he knows he should pitch a fastball. He’s torn, and he switches his grip from fastball to slider and back, and there’s no explaination for his action in the jdrama… if you don’t know your baseball grips, it wouldn’t have meant a lot, but it was crucial in the story.


However, what baseball they did show, was fantastic. I really enjoyed the baseball scenes, and CG was used nicely to enhance the drama and not be all flash (i.e. Shaolin Soccer). The drama and suspense of each at bat felt heavier than watching any AL East game on Fox. Still, the original manga treated the series as equal parts baseball, equal part romance, and that’s echoed in Hideo’s statement that half his life is baseball and the other half is Hitomi, and I would have liked to see a bit more baseball (that’s a big statement considering how much I dislike baseball).

Hiro, Haruka, and Noda

The other cuts involved the minor characters, and most noticably, the screentime for Noda and the coach. In the jdrama, the coach is reduced to a running gag with the newly introduced English teacher, whereas in the manga, he was the Morpheus to Hiro’s Neo. Though I can see why his part was cut as if the baseball portions were cut, there’s really no need to include the strategist in the plot. Noda, though, is a bit more confusing, as in the manga, he was almost everywhere with Hideo and Hiro. He was a mediator between the two, and in the jdrama, he’s not around much, and when he is, he’s suddenly the dorky geek instead of the elite catcher.

Even with the cuts, they didn’t skimp when it came to the four main characters. I felt they stayed fairly true to the manga in that respect, and Hiro, Hikari, Hideo, and Haruka are infinitely more important than the minor characters. I also liked the way the series was modernized in that cell phones had a logical role to play as well as the references to modern cultural icons like Sammy Sosa, Maria Sharpanova, and iPods. The characters text message each other a lot more than I remember in the manga. ^^

The acting for the characters was good too, and I really liked jobs done by the Yakami’s and Kuni’s actors as I thought they nailed their roles pretty well. My only complaint is with their appearances as the actor for Hiro, IMHO, was a bit too tall and looked too old. Noda is supposed to be the lovable fat guy, but he’s extremely skinny and dorky looking now. The girls… well, let’s just say none will ever appear on the WB. The live action YUA girls were a lot cuter.

Hikari and Haruka

I also appreciated the containment of standard “jdrama overacting creep”. In most jdramas, they would have characters who over overact or be overly stereotyped, and I always hated this practice as it takes away from any realism the series is trying to accomplish. Overacting is fine for Star Trek and Family Guy and Gundam Seed Destiny, but for a romance story? The amount of overacting and overstereotyping doomed YUA‘s jdrama, and while there is some in H2, it’s ignorable (for instance, the fat dude who always had a McDonalds bag with him and the English teacher who couldn’t speak English… *shudder*).

What I liked most of the adaptation were the grand settings. I know it sounds hokey, but it was almost like every shot had to do be done with some pretty scenery in the background. Vivid sunsets. Grandiose baseball fields. Decorated interiors. Eye candy to the max. The manga and the anime lacked this component, and for a story about a grand dream, the jdrama managed to capture it nicely.


In the end, the story didn’t sway far from its tried and true manga roots, and it even shows on its homepage, which even featured a picture from the original manga. The story, the characters, the settings, the baseball… all worked out in the end. The strong story of Haruka’s, Hiro’s, Hitmoi’s, and Hideo’s love of baseball and each other is shown to be both timeless and mediumless. Fans of baseball, love triangles, and good drama should check out H2‘s live action adaptation.

H2 manga translations availab’e from Manga Screener. H2 jdrama available from Studio Oto.

2 Responses to “kimi to itahibi”

  1. This is definitely my favorite series ever! I just noticed some errors with the names like Hitomi for Hikari and Maria Sharpanova which should be Maria Sharapova.But basically the review was A-okay!

  2. so what happen with Hiro and Haruka? do they get married like speculated in manga? or something happen?

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