Ookiku Furikabutte Episode 1, or: Wow, Baseball Anime

Yes, I know about Princess Nine (and it is one of my favorites). But I’m not even a general fan of sports anime, aside from Hajime no Ippo, which is probably one of the best shounen manga/anime in existence (I have most  of the DVDs, and I hear I was supposed to get the rest for Christmas, but haven’t actually gotten them yet because they haven’t shipped–so, yes, you ex-Geneon staffers, someone actually bought Ippo), but I’ve always liked baseball as a sport, as I played it as a kid (also bowling, but I don’t think there’s been a bowling anime–yet). And Oofuri isn’t even shounen, it’s seinen, and the manga received the Osamu Tezuka Award and the Kodansha Manga Award, and was serialized in Afternoon, so you know it’s good.

And, although the first episode wasn’t quite entering “this is awesome” territory, it was still really good. The manager, who I don’t think has been named yet, can crush oranges to make juice with her bare hands. Of course, the real meat of the episode was the compaionship between Mihashi Ren, a pitcher (who thinks he sucks at pitching) and Abe Takaya, the catcher. Already they’re a team–Mihashi learned that the abuse heaped upon him by his peers in his middle school baseball club might have been really undeserved, as, with Abe’s help, he totally creams a fourth-at-batter.

I have no idea where the series is headed at this point; I can only hope that there’s a series of exciting games and character development ahead for me–from what I’ve seen, the series seems to be focused on the characters, rather than the sport, which isn’t necessarily bad, as Princess Nine focused on the characters too, but the games were not exactly thrilling escapades for the most part (although the episode where the girls used sex appeal to score runs was probably the best game of baseball ever played). Arguably, if I wanted to watch thrilling baseball games, I’d watch the four seasons of Major (which I might do, someday, maybe), but Oofuri will probably have at least a few good games in its run (which already ended but whatever). But, hopefully, this series will not only please my seinen aesthetics but also tickle my shounen aesthetics. If it does both, then I’ll love it.

Also, if you are reading this, Central Anime, please get a different encoder for your XviD versions. I’m not a video snob and I can tell there’s something wrong with those encodes. For one, you don’t encode a 16:9 video in a 4:3 resolution with black bars, that’s just wrong.

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