A friend of mine went down to California this past weekend. While he was there, he stopped by the Best Place On Earth, Costa Mesa branch. He decided to randomly buy me first two issues of ドカベン(プロ野球編) for whatever unknown reason, and for whatever unknown reason, I'm actually reading them. (I studied Japanese for several years in college, but I'm really not into anime or manga. I'm making an exception for this, because it's baseball!)
Anyway, "Dokaben (Pro Yakyu Series)" is apparently the continuation of the original Dokaben manga, which dealt with these crazy kids on the Meikun High School baseball team. Now they're all being drafted to pro teams, and boy are their adventures strange. Yamada, the "main character" of sorts, is drafted to Seibu; the large and bizarre Iwaki plays for the Hawks; the adorable Satonaka pitches for Lotte, and the short roly-poly Tonoma plays for the Orix Blue Wave.
They actually use a lot of real baseball players in the manga, so what do I come across but a Lotte-Orix game... Tonoma's up to bat, and this is 1995, so Irabu is pitching... and Ichiro is standing on first. It's so CUTE!
You see, that was my random Ichiro sighting for the day!
Man, this series is weird. I really love a lot of the way they've drawn a lot of the players though. It appears that the series actually goes on for 50-something issues over a span of ten years, so I'm actually somewhat curious now about what the later issues look like with the newer teams and players. Maybe I'll hunt them down when I have time in a few weeks.