Japan has a new basketball league in which the players are the country’s beloved national treasures: anime voice actresses.
Voice actors have a considerably high celebrity status in Japan, so featuring them in sporting events may not be a bad idea after all, at least from a marketing perspective.
Since anime voice actresses have been active in cross-media promotions and fan meet-and-greet events, a three-on-three league for young ladies is not that far-fetched.
Officially recognized by the Japan Basketball Association, the newest basketball league is called the SJ3 League, which stands for “Seiyu (the Japanese word for voice actor/actress) Junior Three-on-Three.”
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According to SoraNews24, SJ3 League consists of eight teams, with all of their players being young females currently employed as voice actresses in the anime and video game industry.
Seven of the eight teams are composed of an all-Japanese roster, with one team (Bei Dou) with Chinese players from Shanghai, China. Some of the teams have names such as “WONDER ROCKET,” “PuaPureParty!” and “Cherubiacci.”As the league’s name implies, it will be following the three-on-three (three players playing against three players in a basketball half-court) format, which is a smaller version of the traditional five-on-five. A similar three-on-three basketball format is set to make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
The league’s maiden tournament will kick off its first game on Sept. 30 at the Minami Nagasaki Sports Center in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward.
Organizers are planning to hold tournaments in both the spring and fall. They are also hoping to expand the SJ3 to anime, manga, and/or video game-related content in the near future.
SJ3 director Dogi Minamisawa, who also presides as the president of voice acting talent agency 81 Produce, explained how the league was conceptualized:
“We’ve had the idea of a voice actress basketball league for about two years now. The voice acting industry has been going through major changes recently. Some people may be doubtful, asking ‘Why have voice actresses play basketball?’ but this is a way for voice actresses to have two sets of skills, and not be just single-faceted. This league was born out of that idea.”