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.
— うめもと (@MasaruUmemoto) August 29, 2018
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.”
— たろ～うぃ～＠たろそく (@tarowy1985) August 30, 2018
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.
— 太田法子(CLU＋CH) (@ohta_noriko) August 29, 2018
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.”
— 花ノ木美織 (@miori_hananoki) August 29, 2018
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.
手はちぇるびあっちの C の形ですよ〜
— 小針彩希 (@bari_KObari) August 29, 2018
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.”