Monday, February 24, 2014

Yuya Hashiuchi Watch

This year, to commemorate his return to J1, I've decided to introduce a new, semi-regular feature to the podcast: 'Yuya Hashiuchi Watch'. The Tokushima defender first caught my eye back in 2011, when FC Tokyo were serving their year of purgatory down in J2, and rather than being mesmerized by the flashy youngster flying down the wing for Vortis (an on-loan Yoichiro Kakitani), I simply couldn't take my eyes off this...

Hashiuchi's player profile photo (presumably taken upon his return from the Amazon rain forest) helped get me through Tokyo's year of irrelevance, and I've followed him quite closely over the last two seasons, in which he's struggled to hold down a regular place in the team but finished last season strongly, playing the last three games as well as both of Tokushima's playoff games.

A little bit of digging uncovered an online cult following and the fascinating chameleon-like qualities of the man. While I haven't been able to uncover his squad photo from his debut season of 2006, I did find this from his unveiling, alongside fellow Hiroshima new boys and now Hiroshima East regulars Yosuke Kashiwagi and Tomoaki Makino (who themselves have quite a lot of explaining to do when it comes to ridiculous hairstyles):

That'll have to do for '06, but to help explain my infatuation with Tokushima's #26 I now present - some will make you laugh, some will make you cry - Yuya Hashiuchi's player profile photos from 2007 to 2014:

Hiroshima 2007

In the age of digital cameras, it's simply staggering to me that the photographer didn't pull our Yuya - young, impressionable Yuya - aside and ask him: "You happy with this mate? Sure you don't want to have another go?" He was just 19 years old at the time, but this is where his nickname 'おっさん - Old Man' was born. Can you imagine how much stick he must've taken off his team mates over this?

Hiroshima 2008

Oh-ohhh, Yuya's discovered hair dye! And doesn't he look pleased with himself! You may be doubting your own eyes, but I categorically assure you this is the same man from the picture above.

Hiroshima 2009

Is that a mullet growing down the back of your neck or are you just pleased to see me?

Tottori 2009 (on loan)

"What the hell am I doing in Tottori?" "What is this 'JFL' you speak of?" Doesn't look a happy camper, but ironically, this is the photo I can poke the least fun at.

Tokushima 2010

"Ah, Tokushima, I've heard of that". Yuya's back in a happy place, freshly clipped and ready to roll. In fact, he might just roll away, as we notice the roundness of his head for the first time.

Tokushima 2011

The daddy. The absolute daddy of them all. What a transformation from one year to the next. He's obviously not cut his hair at all in 12 months, and I'd set the over/under on times he's washed it in that time at one...and take the under.

Tokushima 2012

How do you top arguably the greatest player profile photo of all time? By dying your ridiculously coiffed barnet an odd shade of rust, that's how.

Tokushima 2013

Almost looking normal here, which is a massive surprise considering the precedent he set the previous two years, but rather than resting on his laurels Yuya was merely biding his time before his next installment of crimes against hair styles...

Tokushima 2014

This season's effort appears an attempt to recreate the hair monstrosity that was 2012, but it's the lop-sidedness of this that draws you in: the hair leans to his left, but he can only grow his goatee/jaw beard on the right side of his face... This works on so many levels, and is surely a precursor to a fruitful season back in J1.

And now we wait with baited breath to see how our hero will get on back amongst the big boys in the top flight. Rest assured, with 'Yuya Hashiuchi Watch' you'll be kept well informed on his progress throughout the new season on The J-Talk Podcast, whether you like it or not...

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