The Sales Pitch for Sports Anime (Part II): Finding the Sports Anime You Want

Convinced by my previous post on sports anime? Itching to try out one sports anime, but not sure where to start from the voluminous recent hits, or just wanting to find one that suits your style? Think you’ve hit a wall in sports anime? Fear not, for this post will aim to distinguish between different sports anime and help you find one to your liking!

I admit, though, that I haven’t watched, say, a ton, of sports anime and my choices are probably pretty limited to (1) the ones that have come out in recent years, and (2) the ones whose characters tend to be populated by boys *grins knowingly*

To reiterate, the sports anime I have watched are: Kuroko no Basket (all three seasons), Yowamushi Pedal (both seasons), Haikyuu!!, Big Windup (1st season), Chihayafuru (both seasons), Diamond no Ace (1st season), and Free! (1st season). Naturally, I will just be discussing these anime, though I am pretty sure that there will be one of them at least which will appeal to you!

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The Sales Pitch for Sports Anime (Part I): Reasons why you should watch sports anime

For starters, this sales pitch would probably take more than a minute to read in full. In fact, it will be the most un-sales pitch-like sales pitch you would ever read because of its length, but it probably doesn’t matter because the objectives of this series are really as follows:

FIRSTLY, TO CONVINCE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT WATCHED ANY SPORTS ANIME AT ALL TO START.

SECONDLY, TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT SPORTS ANIME I HAVE WATCHED SO THAT YOU CAN CHOOSE WHAT PROBABLY SUITS YOU THE MOST. (also, not to worry, there will not be any spoilers!), which I will elaborate on in the next part of this series.

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Ookiku Furikabutte: Thoughts and Impressions

Hello everybody! Firstly, I apologise for staying such a long time away from the WordPress community – I was having a particularly intensive period at school what with school projects and exams, and also other stuff had happened that had taken up a huge proportion of my time and energy. Now its technically my ‘summer’ holidays but I am not going to really be less busy – I only have 2 weeks of rest before getting up and going again ^^

Secondly, I know I haven’t really been around and commenting and reading my followers’ blogposts that much, but I really hope to turn that around soon 🙂

Without further ado, I present to you — Ookiku Furikabutte (a.k.a. Big Windup!)

I don’t actually know what’s with the spate of sports anime reviews that I have been doing on my blog when in reality, most of the anime I watch aren’t sports related. But I reckon that these anime really deserve more attention by virtue of them being the essence of what makes the subject matter of Japanese animation so special – which other media genre has had so many instances of spinning touching narrations of friendship, teamwork, effort, tension and competition, replete with attention grabbing visuals, animation and a fast-paced plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat? However, we should note that not every sports anime delivers what I had just described to you in a gift box nicely wrapped, promising to bring you wonders when opened. Though they adopt largely the same structure and utilise the same elements in storytelling, each sports anime still has some unique characteristics that make it stand out from the rest.

Ookiku Furikabutte tells the story of Mihashi, a pitcher with extremely low self-confidence, who enters Nishiura high school and joins its newly formed baseball team. Being ostracised and certainly bullied in his middle school, Mihashi’s sense of self-worth is at a literal rock bottom (if you think Onoda from Yowamushi Pedal is already bad, Mihashi is at least two times that) that it makes him almost pitiable even at the very start. However, his unique way of pitching, though unappreciated and even booed at in his previous school, catches the eye of Abe, a catcher who realises the multifarious ways it could be used to the team’s advantage. Together they form a battery and the anime depicts their struggles as they overcome the vast differences between themselves to work towards a common goal – winning the matches they are thrown into.

The story is told in a slice-of-life fashion, depicting the struggles of the newly formed baseball team as they go through training. Though there are only two matches throughout the 22 episode series, Mihashi and Abe’s pasts are confronted through the two and it is actually during those long and arduous matches where we see character development. Other supporting characters also really shine in the games, and we get less of a sense that they are, for example, Teammate A and B, or simply the batter at 1st base, the outfielder etc. which was a source of confusion at the start of the anime, not helped by the fact that character designs are mainly differentiated by their hair which is entirely covered by their baseball caps during games.

This is a relatively unknown anime, even within its own niche genre. None of the characters have specific characteristics that make them stand out such that they would feature in crossovers, or are mentioned by people, or even brought up in Youtube video reviews. Of most special mention is actually Mihashi, whom you’d either really want to hit your head against the wall for such wimpiness, or you would really sympathise with him as sentient, fallible fellow human beings who’s prone to the occasional self-demeaning attitude. But other than that, his adorableness really captures the hearts of fujoshis/fudanshis as he is easily the main character that blushes the most in any anime I have seen (except maybe those with the explicit shounen-ai/yaoi tags). Having said that though, it doesn’t come across as overtly pandering to yaoi fans, because we are able to see it as something inherent in that self-defeatist attitude of his. Abe’s more assertive attitude shapes Mihashi up due to him being the first to truly recognise Mihashi’s way of pitching, and their chemistry both on the battlefield and off presents a good angle for exposition.

OF admittedly focuses a lot on baseball strategy. Up till now, I don’t claim to really know anything about baseball even after watching the anime, pausing, rewatching certain episodes to get what is going on, doing basic research, watching Youtube Baseball 101 videos. Even after all that, I am only familiar with the extremely basic rules. Though Abe, the narrating strategist here (together with their coach), explains the reasons why they are using certain strategies, there are just too many to catch and too many terms for a complete beginner such that it can get tiring too watch if, like me, you are a total noob when it comes to baseball.

In essence, though this is not probably as highly recommended as Yowamushi Pedal or Haikyuu!!, I daresay this would be an enriching experience for those more familiar with baseball because of the highly complex strategies. Nevertheless if you are a total beginner, it is still possible to enjoy it as there is some explanation given to familiarise yourself with how the game works. Do note though that this is a mainly sports centric anime and can turn out to be very technical, so its not recommended for those looking for high entertainment value.

Feel free to leave your thoughts below as to whether you’d be inclined to give this a go, or even if just to comment about whether you’ve watched it or not 🙂

*All images belong to their respective owners and do not belong to me.*