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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Big Windup: Part 1
Big Windup: Part 1
FUNimation // Unrated // August 18, 2009
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 22, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:
 
While there are a lot of mecha, fantasy, and harem anime programs available in the US, there are only a handful of sports shows.  That's too bad, because most of them are pretty good.  While I'm not a sports fan, I really enjoyed shows like Princess Nine and Fighting Spirit, so I was looking forward to FUNimation's new release, Big Windup.  The first set contains the first 13 episodes, half of the series, but the irritating main character makes this show a lot less enjoyable that it could have been.
 
 Mihashi was the starting pitcher on his middle school baseball team, but the only reason he got that position was because his grandfather was the owner of the school.  Ridiculed and ostracized by his teammates, the team looses every single game for the three years running.  Wanting to get away from the teammates who hate him, Mihashi decides to go to a public high school, Nishiura. 

The school is starting their baseball team, all the members are freshman, and when Mihashi shows up at the diamond during practice he gets drafted as the pitcher.  There he meets Abe, a great catcher who came from a school with a prestigious baseball team.  Abe soon realizes that though Mihashi doesn't have much speed in his throws, he has amazing control.  He can throw an entire game and still plant the ball just where he wants it to be.  With Abe's skill at reading batters and Mihashi's precision, this new team may just have a chance.
 
There's a lot that this series has going for it:  the drama of baseball, the tension between the catcher and the pitch, and getting the disparate members coming together to form a team.   Those aspects are good, but unfortunately the few flaws really drag the series down. 
 
The main problem is that the main character, Mihashi, is really annoying.  I mean really, really annoying.  He whines and cries at the drop of a hat.  At first I thought this was just a temporary thing, a flaw that Mihashi would soon overcome, but he doesn't.  At first he's unsure of his ability as a pitcher.  He's so timid that when the catcher first asks Mihashi to throw him a few balls, the kid breaks down and cries tears.  A freshman male, in high school, crying at a simple request.  Yeah right.  Later in the series he bumps into a guy walking who yells "watch where you're going."  Mihashi curls up in fetal position and whimpers to himself until the guy apologizes and helps him stand up.  Every time someone talks to Mihashi he whines internally "Oh no, Abe must be mad at me!"  I can understand being scared, but no over something as minor as a team mate saying 'hi.'  Man, suck it up and grow a back bone.
 
That's related to another problem.  They never explain why Mihashi is playing baseball.  Sure, he says "I love pitching" several times through the show, but they never show him enjoying it.  When he's on the mound he's nervous and when he's off the field he sits outside of the dugout curled up in a ball.  Why does he want to put himself under such stress?  The strange thing is that even when his team is winning, he's not happy.  Then he feels sorry for the other side.
 
Aside from Mihashi, the show also features pseudoscientific training exercises that made me roll my eyes.  In one case the team sits in a circle holding hands and concentrates on transferring 'energy' to the person next to them.  At another point the trainer proclaims that thinking of things that happened in the past releases dopamine into the brain.  (And I always thought it was sex!)  This was a minor part of the show, but it still was pretty dumb.
 
The DVD:

 
The first half of this series, 13 episodes, is included in this set.  They are on two DVDs which come in a single width keepcase.  Unfortunately the discs are overlapping on the right page.  I'm not a fan of that style, but I can live with it.
 
Audio:
 
This disc offers the both the original Japanese soundtrack in stereo and an English dub in 5.1.  I greatly preferred the Japanese track.  The English dub features a couple of fake accents in minor characters, but more importantly Mihashi's whining is so irritating in English that I could barely stand it.  He whines in Japanese too but when he does it's not nearly so bad.  In English I really feel like punching him just to shut the guy up.   In addition to that though the English dub is 5.1 the show didn't make use of the rear speakers very often.
 
Video:
 
The full frame image looks pretty good.  The lines were tight and the colors were solid.  There was some aliasing in the program though, mainly in the background, and some minor banding mainly in scenes where the sky in prominent.  Overall this is a nice looking show, though not exceptional.
 
Extras:
 
There isn't much in the way of extras.  The set only contains a pair of clean songs and some trailers.
 
Final Thoughts:
 
This show has several positive aspects.  The games are exciting and seeing all of the players come together as a team is fun.  Unfortunately the whiny, irritating lead character saps a lot of the joy out of the show.  (I really wish that someone would slap him.)  There are some great sprts anime, but this isn't one of them.  Make this a rental.
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