Well, that was certainly an exciting game of baseball

Put ’em up, pardner. This here baseball field ain’t big enough for the two of us.

After watching the obligatory initial practice game, which, since this is a sports anime after all, was every bit as thrilling and exciting as a real game, Ookiku Furikabutte has gotten quite amazing. Like the only other sports anime series I’ve seen (Hajime no Ippo) it handles the ups and downs of playing a sport well, and generates real tension during the actual baseball game. The scrimmage match was played against Mihashi’s old teammates (you know, the ones who ridiculed him for being a terrible slow pitcher) and the focus of the match was not the game but, rather, Mihashi overcoming the fears and doubts of his past.

I know, I know, you’re feeling like you want to shout “This is symbolism!” at the screen right now, but the series intentionally makes no effort to hide it. By the end of the game, Mihashi’s old teammates have apologized to him for their mistreatment of him during middle school, as they’ve now seen that, when paired with an effective team, Mihashi is indeed a formidable pitcher. All this and a thrilling game of baseball that’s more fun than real baseball! It’s a win-win situation!

One thing I’ve noticed I like about this series: in a genre where the main character is usually a star player and an arrogant dick, Mihashi is…a star player and insecure of himself. It’s an interesting change up, and that’s probably part of the reason that the manga won the Osamu Tezuka Award and Kodasha Manga Award–not only does it offer an interesting change in lead character for sports manga, it also handles it with aplomb. It’s just refreshing to have a sports anime that doesn’t focus on how manly the main character is, and instead handles a much more complicated issue: how human athletes are.

With the triumphing over adversity of Ippo and the high character-driven emotional content of shoujo (the author is orignally a shoujo/josei author…of BL manga, hence the somewhat unsubtle gay undertones, and the massive fujoshi fanbase), Ookiku Furikabutte is another seinen title that fuses the good parts of shoujo and shounen and creates a truly wonderful story. And, trust me on this one, we could use a lot more titles that fuse shoujo and shounen.

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