Sunday, December 15, 2019

2019 Calbee Samurai Japan set

For the third time in four years Calbee has issued a team for Samurai Japan.  The set was released while the Premier 12 was going on (which I'm sure was not a coincidence) but the set is not for that version of Samurai Japan.  Instead the set contains all the players on the roster of the Samurai Japan team that played a couple friendlies against Mexico in March of this year as well as some of the players who were on the roster of the team that took on the MLB All Stars in November 2018.

To some degree the Samurai Japan rosters for both events were a little experimental as manager Atsunori Inaba was looking to how some of the younger NPB stars would do in international competition.  As a result there's a number of stars who weren't on the rosters for either of those events and therefore aren't in the set.  This includes Hayato Sakamoto, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, Takehiro Norimoto, Tomoyuki Sugano, Kodai Senga, Nobuhiro Matsuda, Yoshihiro Maru, Seiya Suzuki and Sho Nakata.  In addition there's eight players on the MLB All-Star roster that do not appear in the set - Nao Higashihama, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Takuyuki Kishi, Yuki Matsui, Daichi Ohsera, Akitake Okada, Shinsaburo Tawata, and Naoyuki Uwasawa.

So who's in the set?  I should mention there's 44 cards in the set which is 8 cards more than either the 2016 or 2017 versions.  Manager Inaba has a card which also doubles as the set checklist.  Shogo Akiyama, Tetsuto Yamada and Yasuaki Yamasaki are all in the set - they are the only three players who have appeared in all three of Calbee's Samurai Japan sets.  There's a whopping 36(!) players who have never appeared in a Samurai Japan set before which includes a bunch of guys who were on the Premier 12 roster - Tsubasa Aizawa, Sosuke Genda, Shota Imanaga, Takuya Kai, Kensuke Kondoh, Kouhei Morihara, Rei Takahashi, Shota Tonosaki, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Taisuke Yamaoka and Masataka Yoshida.  Other first time Samurai Japan players are Hotoka Yamakawa, Yuki Yanagita, Tomoya Mori and Munetaka Murakami. 

The cards themselves are very attractive.  They have a kira finish like the cards in the two previous sets did but it's not as overpowering as it was in those sets, especially the 2016 one.  The effect is more subtle and the cards look great as a result.  Five of the 44 cards have a horizontal format which works well with the photos Calbee selected for those cards.  I will issue my usual gripe that the photo selection could have used a little more diversity - it's the usual "pitchers pitching, hitters hitting, catchers catching" rut although there are a couple cards where they deviated from this.  Here's some example cards:

#SJ-01Atsunori Inaba

#SJ-09 Kazuto Taguchi

#SJ-34 Hotoka Yamakawa

#SJ-30 Kosuke Tanaka

#SJ-22 Seiji Kobayashi

#SJ-32 Shogo Nakamura
You can see all the cards over at Jambalaya as usual.  There's a gold signature parallel version of all the cards.

1 comment:

Lastraps said...

The samurai Japan cards found on the packages of Calbee potato chips are cool looking cards. The parallels are not that easy to get. Since my time in Japan I have purchased 25 packages of potato chips and I have only pulled two of the parallels. The cards are are glossy and are a little smaller than the regular baseball card that we would see in North America. I think the set is a cool sat and if I were here longer I would probably chase it If I was a full-time supporter of Japanese baseball.