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While seemingly 90 percent of anime and manga are set in Tokyo, a lot of the creative individuals behind Japan’s biggest animation and comic hits grew up in other parts of the country. Many accomplished artists and authors hail from Niigata, and while Inuyasha and Ranma 1/2 creator Rumiko Takahashi is probably the most famous among English-speaking fans, the prefecture can also claim Shinji Mizushima as one of its native sons.

Mizushima is best known for his baseball saga Dokaben, which was so popular its protagonist has been immortalized with a bronze statue in Niigata City. It was already a bit of a local landmark, but these days it’s getting a fresh batch of attention as the site of a series of trick photography shots of the power-hitting catcher sending young women flying with a swing of his bat.

First, here’s how Dokaben’s lead character, Taro Yamada, looks when drawn by Mizushima.

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The Dokaben manga started in 1972, and though Mizushima has taken sporadic hiatuses since then, the franchise continues today, and in fact the 75-year-old Mizushima has been drawing it continually since 1995. Given Yamada’s stout frame, it’s no surprise that he’s often depicted crushing home runs. That’s also what he appears to be doing in his statue that’s found on the Shinji Mizushima Manga Character Street in Niigata’s Furumachi neighborhood.

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But while some people look at the statue and see a display of awesome physical prowess, others see a chance for slapstick comedy.

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The photography project is the unusual brainchild of Shinya Nishimura, creative director of the free newspaper Okinawa Bishojo Zukan. Called Ketsu Bat Girls, its name translates out to “Butt Bat Girls,” although the emphasis seems to be much more on Yamada’s swing than the human models’ derrieres.

▼ Although some shots are pretty close to 50-50.

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While each of the photos in the Tumblr collection is technically a variation on the theme of “woman getting hit with a bat,” the mood is more physical comedy than physical violence, with the models seemingly competing to see who can make the silliest facial expression as Yamada’s dialed-in, sports-focused mind mistakes the curves of their rumps for hanging curveballs that need a one-way trip to the fans in the cheap seats.

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▼ The woman on the right seems to even be throwing a counterpunch.

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As a matter of fact, judging from the unmistakable smiles plastered on some of their faces, Yamada’s bat looks like it can be a pleasant, even enjoyable way to travel.

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The Ketsu Bat Girl project seems to be ongoing, with new pictures being posted as they’re taken to its website here. If you feel like taking your own, the Taro Yamada statue is located at the address Niigata City, Furumachi 5 (新潟市古町5番街), where the dedicated slugger can be found practicing his swing, day or night.

▼ Be prepared to wait for your turn, though.

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Related: Ketsu Bat Girl, Shinji Mizushima Manga Character Street website
Source: Kai-You
Top image: Ketsu Bat Girl (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images: Dokujo News, Muragon, Ketsu Bat Girl (1, 2, 3, 4) (edited by RocketNews24)