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Anime Breakfast: Mila and Shiro or falling in love with volleyball

In this new episode of Anime Breakfast we enter the world of sport with Mila and Shiro, the anime that made an entire generation fall in love with volleyball

After remembering an anime as dramatic and intense as Lady Oscar, we begin to touch on the theme of sports in Japanese anime, two elements that have been paired with excellent functioning for many years now. The first reason is that sport in anime is a vehicle for making a generation of young people express their own characteristics and uniqueness, it is a vehicle for getting out of the uniformity that society and the school system impose. The fact that in most of the anime the protagonist sportsman or sportswoman are invincible heroes of the community is because they are really attributed the same characteristics as the superheroes we know.

How do we enter the world of sport? We do it in one of the quintessential sports anime: Mila and Shiro. We must immediately make the premise that the title translated into Italian deceives us, because there is little of Shiro in this anime, there is more than anything else the world of volleyball, the sacrifice and determination in wanting to make one’s dreams come true. So let’s go step by step and see why Mila and Shiro is still so loved today.

Jailbird was, a cartoon | Anime Breakfast: Mila and Shiro or falling in love with volleyball

If you ask any professional women’s volleyball player how they got into volleyball, 85 percent will probably say it was watching Mila and Shiro growing up. We are in 1986 when this anime is broadcast in Italy for the first time and we are in 2011 when, 24 years after the first broadcast, a new chapter is broadcast on the occasion of the Olympics. The protagonist of the animated series is Mila, a teenager who dreams of the national team with her great love, volleyball and next to her two other protagonists, her friends Kaori and Nami who play for different clubs in the championships.

In this scenario there is also Shiro, who although has more space than in the original manga, however remains marginal and built to give sentimental suspense to the overall plot. Precisely for this reason it is good to remember that the greatness of this manga is having brought almost two generations of professional players closer to this sport: from Manuela Leggeri, captain of the Italian national team who won the 2002 World Cup to Paola Egonu, an unprecedented talent who is tracing the new lines of volleyball worldwide.

Anime Breakfast: Mila and Shiro or falling in love with volleyball

Dedication and Sacrifice | Anime Breakfast: Mila and Shiro or falling in love with volleyball

Volleyball is central here: the protagonists spend most of their time in the gym, to improve themselves and become the strongest in Japan, talk about their lives in the gym, take care of the spaces, their cleaning and their accommodation. Dedication and sacrifice is what you see in this anime and it’s also a rather realistic portrait of what really happens in Japan in the world of sport. A sacrifice that is carried to excess, with the protagonists who finish training exhausted, massacred by balls to learn defense or by successive shots in attack.

Precisely for this reason when we watch a sports anime we seem to see the same narration of heroes with superpowers, because we see young people who take the sports mission as an ethical and saving mission. As well as we know that it is not the same thing, however it is nice to think of how many young people have started a sport thanks to a cartoon and how much this can therefore have a very important symbology.

Surreal Scenes of Infinite Duration | Anime Breakfast: Mila and Shiro or falling in love with volleyball

Anime Breakfast: Mila and Shiro or falling in love with volleyball

Despite its undoubted merits, we are obviously not dealing with a sports documentary, the fiction exists and is taken to the extreme, with exaggerated and unrealistic sports acts. These same sporting acts thus represented opened the door to the same choice in other sports anime, first of all Holly and Benji, in which the ball was seen to become oval every time it was hit hard and the soccer field was kilometers long.

In Mila and Shiro, the crushed balls are almost very powerful oval bombs, those who play defense with skill like Nami fly to catch any ball in slow motion and the matches last many episodes. Note how volleyball is actually a very fast sport with very fast and dynamic actions, but here everything is decidedly dilated. Although it is still a reason for irony about that type of graphic choice and script, it was still a style, typical of those years and which was in perfect style with the dramatization of sport itself.

What plays down Mila and Shiro is precisely its protagonist Mila, who on the field is dedicated to sacrifice, but off the field she is an exuberant bungling beyond all limits and very sensitive: in a nutshell, “one of us” in which it is rather easy to find yourself, even if sometimes she is a bit out of line, but as it is normal that it is in contrast with her way of being on the field.

It’s not a backdated anime

In case we were wondering, no, Mila and Shiro is not a backdated anime, it is not outdated in terms of graphics and narrative and can still be seen with great interest. Indeed, it is also recommended for current generations, because it is still able to make people passionate about a sport as very few souls can do. And who knows how many other future sports champions it will be able to churn out.

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