Ookiku Furikabutte: Now THAT’S Baseball

I was going to wait until the end of this game to make this post, but it’s been five episodes and we’re only on the fifth inning. Slow game is slow.

As the first actual game of baseball Oofuri has had (there was that scrimmage game back at the beginning, but that’s not real  baseball), it’s quite the game, though. The focus is, as always, on Mihashi Ren, and his general state of mind (somewhat manic at the moment, due to the fact that Nishiura has held the returning champions in the tournament to a complete shutout, with the score being 2-0 at the moment. Not bad for a bunch of first-years.

This game isn’t about any one player (well, Ren is the main character) so much as it is about how the team functions as a whole. The playes support each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes sheer luck helps them out more than any actual skill. The team is, in a sense, rallying around Ren, which proves a welcome change of pace for the ace pitcher resented by his middle school team. Ren improves with every episode, almost, or, at least, finds some new reason to respect his teammates and friends. Indeed, as he pitches more and more strikeouts in this game, he’s getting ever more elated and prideful (or, well, at least what passes for pride when you’re talking about Ren). He’s slowly becoming more confident in himself, in the power of his teammates, and their ability to play a game of baseball. I don’t doubt that this game has plenty more twists and turns and thrilling “holy crap that play did not just happen” moments

The real beauty of the series, though, isn’t its focus on characters, but it’s the focus on characters while setting up a great  game of baseball. As slow as the game is, it still manages to be thrilling. Instead of a quick, fast-paced blow-by-blow, like the games in Princess Nine were, we get an almost mediative look at baseball. Lengthy at-bat internal monologues are the norm for this series. And that’s good–this game will probably compromise the rest of the series, or, if not, there won’t be another game after this for sure (barring a second season) unless one goes on to read the manga, which I can only hope will be licensed in the States. Despite the slow pace, the series manages to generate tension well–you’re not going to be on the edge of your seat at all times like you would be watching Hajime no Ippo, but there’s always this sense that you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and that the game could suddenly turn either way. Devious cliffhangers, as well, lend to the “must see another episode” syndrome.

Closing thought for today: Ren’s cousin wears twin braids and is cute to the max, yet she does not shut out the incredible potential of Shinooka Chiyo. But Chiyo hasn’t even shown up much this game, so she’s perfectly fine in a pinch.

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I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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a ridiculously long and only partially organized list of subjects


March 2008

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