Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz is a Coming-of-Age Story focusing on young Toyo Shimada, a first-year at Ichiko High School in the year 1890, around the start of the Meiji period in Japan. Young Toyo must face bullying seniors, his father's refusal to modernize, and his own inability to cope with his uncle's seppuku, all while finding a way to incorporate his father's bushido into his baseball practices and help his school's baseball team rise to the top.
Provides Examples Of:
- Baseball Episode: The entire novel.
- The Big Guy: Fujimura and Junzo.
- Coming-of-Age Story
- Gratuitous Japanese:Homu Ran, gaijin, bushido, seppuku, Pu-re boru, besuboru.
- Historical Fiction: Takes place in 19th century Japan.
- Kids Are Cruel: The seniors tormented the first years by storming down the hallways in only loincloths before charging into a dorm room and beating the crap out the younger ones, then called them 'girls', and set up a bunch of rules restricting what they could do. Toyo helps to change this, though.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: Toyo manages to rally his dormmates against the seniors after days of endless torment and stands up to the snotty kitchen staff.
- Phenotype Stereotype: Averted in the case of the Americans.
- Seppuku: Toyo's uncle commits this at the beginning of the story, and he fears his father will do the same.
- Shown Their Work
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Sotaro to Toyo.