Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams Movie Poster Image
Compelling docu about Japan's biggest baseball tournament.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Highlights the importance of integrity, perseverance, and teamwork -- both in sports and in life. The players and coaches are all dedicated to one another and to the greater goal of representing their region in the tournament. Also shows how there should be more to life than pursuit of the game and how the players and coaches also need to make time for their families, studies, and personal relationship.

Positive Role Models

The players and coaches are disciplined, hardworking, and loyal. They take baseball seriously and take responsibility/share in both triumphs and errors/losses. All of the featured players, coaches, and families are Japanese, and because all the players and coaches are male, there are few women/girls in the film. The director, however, is a woman.

Violence & Scariness

Emotional moments when players and coaches cry in disappointment.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams is a compelling sports documentary about the 100th anniversary of Japan's annual two-week high-school baseball tournament that some consider on par with the World Series and the Olympics. Though the documentary doesn't have any iffy content -- there's no language, substance use, sex, or violence -- it does feature emotional scenes of players and coaches crying. With strong messages of perseverance, teamwork, loyalty, and integrity, it will appeal most to baseball fans and families interested in Japanese culture or traditions. In the United States, the movie has English subtitles.

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What's the story?

KOSHIEN: JAPAN'S FIELD OF DREAMS is a documentary about the lead up Japan's 100th annual National High School Baseball Tournament in 2018. The competition is known as Koshien, which is the name of the field on which the storied tournament is played. The film focuses on two high-school coaches. There's Coach Mizutani, who's only had his team reach Koshien once -- though that's an honor in itself, considering the single-elimination odds. The other is Mizutani's former assistant, Coah Hiroshi Sasaki, now the head coach of a top-ranking school that's gone to Koshien nine times and won the entire tournament twice. Through interviews with coaches, players, and former players (including MLB players Shohei Ohtani and Yusei Kikuchi), the documentary captures just how important this tournament is to the entire country.

Is it any good?

This is a compelling documentary about how seriously high-school baseball players and coaches in Japan take the opportunity to participate in the country's annual tournament. Baseball might be known as America's favorite pastime, but the Japanese have made it a national obsession. Mizutani, the older of the two coaches highlighted, is hyper-focused on his team to the point that he dashed his own parents' expectations for him to take over the family business. He's a fascinating, nuanced character to follow, particularly after the filmmakers introduce Sasaki, who was once Mizutani's protege but ended up becoming head coach of one of the most storied high schools in Japan.

Director Ema Ryan Yamazaki highlights the coaches more than the players in Koshien, but a few players' stories stand out for their perseverance, discipline, and, yes, heartbreak. This isn't a Hollywood sports movie in which every underdog gets a happy ending. The story here is in the players' and coaches' devotion to their teams -- and the earnest love of the game they all display. Because of the regional and "anything can happen" nature of the single-elimination tournament, every team, even those favored to win, has to bring their all to every single game. This is an ideal pick for families who love baseball.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Koshien compares to other sports documentaries. What distinguishes it from other similar films?

  • If you're not already familiar with Japanese culture, what did you learn from the documentary? Did you know how popular baseball is in Japan?

  • Discuss how the coaches and players display integrity, perseverance, and teamwork. Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love baseball

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