第21回●『神様がくれた背番号』



メルマガからWEBに変わっての一発目は、やはり新刊をご紹介しよう。原作/松浦儀実、作画/渡辺保裕『神様がくれた背番号』(1巻発売中/日本文芸社)。2010年に出版された同名小説のマンガ化である。

大阪・天王寺で暮らす40歳のホームレス・飛田謙吉(通称「ケンちゃん」)の前に、ある日、神様が現れた。生まれてから一度もウソをついたことがないケンちゃんが今年の“人間大賞”に選ばれ、そのごほうびに何でも望みをかなえてやると神様は言う。そこでケンちゃんが望んだのは〈世界で一番野球の上手い40歳になって阪神タイガースで活躍してみたい〉ということだった――。

いきなり「ンなアホな!」というドリーム設定だが、似たような妄想を抱いたことのある虎バカは少なくないだろう。かく言う私も、もし生まれ変わったら野茂クラスにドラフトで指名が集中する選手になって、「希望は阪神ですが、指名されればどこでも行きます。ただし、読売だけには絶対行きません」と宣言するのが夢である。

もちろんそんなことは現実にはありえない。でも、マンガの中では問題なし。ケンちゃんは、投げれば160キロ超え、打てばライナーでホームランという超人選手になってしまったのだ。

そして、周囲のサポートにより晴れて阪神に入団することになるのだが、このマンガの何がうれしいって、選手や球団関係者がすべて実名で出てくるところである。いつのシーズンと明記はされていないが、監督は岡田。矢野がいて赤星がいて金本がいて桧山がいる。いや、桧山は今もいるわけだが、何だかずいぶん昔のことのように感じてしまう。故・島野育夫氏が何かとケンちゃんの面倒をみる総合特命コーチとして登場するのも泣ける(ということは2007年の設定か)。

ほかにも片岡コーチ、佐野スカウト、あげくの果ては南信男球団社長までが登場するのには驚いた。クレジットに〈協力:阪神タイガース〉と入っているように、球団公認だからこそできることで、あの面倒くさい球団相手に交渉した編集者の努力、高い権利料を支払ったであろう出版社の英断にも拍手を送りたい。

1巻はケンちゃんが初めて甲子園のマウンドに立ったところで終わっているので、物語としてはまさにこれから。しかし、見どころはいくつもある。

そもそもケンちゃんが阪神で活躍したいと願ったのは、自分が阪神ファンだからというよりも、心臓が悪くて運動のできない阪神ファンの少年・タケ坊の夢をかなえるためだった。そのタケ坊がケンちゃんを見物に来た金本に会うシーン。

金本のことを「世界で一番強いと思うで!」と言うタケ坊に金本は答える。

「ワシは弱いんよ/すごく弱いんよ/弱いから不安で不安でしゃあないけぇ/人より一杯練習したんよ」「もしワシが強いんやとしたら…/それは自分で自分が弱いってことを知ってるからやな」――そう言いながらアップで微笑む金本の顔は、陰影入りすぎでちょっと怖いが感動的だ。

金本を含め選手たちの似顔絵がよく似ているのも見どころ。なかでも圧巻はやはり岡田監督である。「そらそうよ」の決めゼリフ(というか、それ以外のセリフなし)を放つときのドヤ顔は懐かしいやら可笑しいやら。

そして、もうひとつ見逃せないのは、それぞれの事情を抱えつつ阪神タイガースというチームを応援する人々を、丁寧に描こうとしている点だ。阪神応援ブログを書く派遣社員の女性、年頃の娘に邪険にされながら私設応援団でトランペットを吹くクリーニング屋のオヤジ……。そんな虎バカたちの夢と希望を背負って、ケンちゃんはどこまで頑張れるのか。金本や赤星や矢野は、どんな活躍を見せるのか。岡田監督が「そらそうよ」以外のセリフを吐くときは来るのか。

現実の阪神のトホホな状況(主に中村GMの活躍)から目をそむけるにはピッタリの夢の世界。というか、本当にケンちゃんみたいな救世主が現れてくれるよう、神様にお願いしたくなるのであった。


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