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
FUNimation's new release, Big Windup.
The first set contains the first 13 episodes, half of the
the irritating main character makes this show a lot less enjoyable that
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
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,
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
importantly Mihashi's whining is so irritating in English that I could
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
5.1 the show didn't make use of the rear speakers very often.
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
scenes where the sky in prominent.
Overall this is a nice looking show, though not exceptional.
There isn't much in the way of extras. The
set only contains a pair of clean songs
and some trailers.
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
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.