At first sight, baseball series must all look the same. I too had that same prejudice about the genre before I started watching them. However, what I like about them is that they all have their own things that they’re good at: Touch has its character-development, One Outs has its mind games, Cross Game has its slice of life and Princess Nine has its bombastic and bold execution. Ookiku Furikabutte is the proverbial page-turner: I found myself marathoning through this series, just to see what would happen next.
I’ve often criticized baseball matches for dragging on for too long, but here it’s different: the first season of Ookiku Furikabutte only has two matches, one of which takes up a whopping eleven episodes. Miraculously though, the creators somehow managed to keep it engaging from beginning to end. Out of all the baseball series I’ve seen, this is the one that put the most emphasis on teamwork. It does not have a god-moded pitcher or batter who can single-handedly save games: every single pitch, every single throw or swing is important and could have a major impact on the match.
Because the pitcher inthis series isn’t able to take care of the entire defense by himself, we for once get to see every member of the team in the spotlight, and with his own chances to shine, even the team of the opponent is fleshed out in this way. The baseball matches here are full of tactics that often need to be re-adjusted for every different player, and the creators have really shown that they have a deep knowledge about their subject.
Despite this, I still have a few problems withthe main pitcher, though. It seems to me that the creators tried a bit too hard to make him step away from your average lead character-pitcher that they completely dived into the opposite side of the spectrum. Mihashi is such a loser and socially inept kid that he’s more like some sort of a plot device, rather than an actual character, and I feel that the creators overplayed his strange quirks a bit too much, and that’s a shame because he does get the most ttention in this series. This takes precious time away from the side-characters, that could have been used to develop them.
Overall, A-1 Pictures animated this series also very skillfully: all of the character-designs are distinct and not just carbon copies with just different hair slapped on top of them. Their animation knows when to be smooth and when to cut corners in order to give a good feel of the ongoing baseball match, with the only notable annoyance being the constant facial distortions of Mihashi that get old after a while.
Overall, while I’ve seen more interesting characters in baseball series, I have not seen baseball matches as detailed as outlined here. This is really a series for the baseball fans out there, because this series perfectly captures the essence of how gruelingly long and intense such a match can be. That second season is looking very promising now.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Very well written baseball: every pitch, hit, throw and catch counts.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Good characterization, but simple characters and an overly quirky lead character.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Solid.|
|Setting:||9/10 – Very knowledgeable about all sorts of baseball techniques and concepts.|