Book Review – Immature Man (Kyuji Fujikawa)

fujikawakyujimijukumonoThe original title of the book is 未熟者 (Mijuku Mono). Written in the 2008 offseason and released prior to the second World Baseball Classic in 2009 (which the author played well in), Kyuji Fujikawa wrote a book that is not quite an autobiography, but is somewhat difficult to classify. He mostly talked about how he got his fastball, how he became the man that he is, and what he hopes to do in the future.

The actual content of the book was not bad. The reader can really see that he’s got great baseball sense, great passion for the game, and also a love for his family. In one chapter in particular, he goes into more personal issues, such as times he did not want to even leave his house, what it’s like to be a father, and even why he wanted to become a starting pitcher instead of a reliever (it’s family-related, so I include it in the “personal” side).

Unfortunately, I also felt like this book lacked focus or a clear point. He talks several times about wanting to play in the majors, something he did (quite unsuccessfully, unfortunately, from 2013 until the start of 2015), and also about some of the disagreements he had with management. He talks about a variety of things, but there is really no cohesion. When I finished the book, I was left wondering, “Why did you write this? Or, why in 2008? Why not wait until you matured, THEN write about how you were immature? Why not wait until after you retire?”

There were a couple of interesting features in the book digressed even further from its core focus. There are sets of three “commentaries” about Kyuji – short columns written by former teammates and coaches – at the end of three different chapters. It was fun to read the words of other players, but it also seemed to be an unnecessary ego-booster for the author. The other interesting feature was a transcript of a conversation between Kyuji and his favorite catcher/teammate, Akihiro Yano. This was a lot of fun to read, and somewhat reminiscent Kyojin-Hanshin Discourse (Egawa & Kakefu). However, it also did not really fit in with the “immature man” theme.

On the whole, I’m glad I read this book, and it helped me get to know a key player for the team in the first decade of the twenty-first century. I wish the editors had done a better job of keeping him focused. (Interestingly, he ends the book by explaining that he tried to write the book during the 2008 season but he was in a bad mental place, had to ask the publishers for a deadline extension, and then was left to write the whole thing hastily that offseason. Perhaps they should have scrapped the project and put it out a few years later.)

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.