Posted by SuperWooper on 20 July 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Sports, Mix

I’ve got to lead with a gripe: Mix’s new OP is worse than the first. I haven’t got anything against Porno Graffiti as a band, but Akihito Okano’s vocal performance is too deliberate and modern for a show this committed to naturalism. What’s ironic is that Sumika, who provided “Equal” for the first opening, have a much simpler, more nostalgic sound than a band that predates them by nearly 15 years. It’s the string arrangement in “Equal” that I miss most of all, now that it’s been replaced by Porno Graffiti’s wailing guitars. The visuals are entirely centered around baseball now, as well, with cuts to stunned crowd members stinking up the final leg of the OP. The disappearance of Little Glee Monster’s ED is a disappointment, as well, but the downgrade isn’t anywhere near as large as this one. That’s just one man’s opinion about the very beginning and end of the episodes, though – read on to hear about the juicier bits.

Baseball mode isn’t the version of Mix I prefer, but I wouldn’t call it a necessary evil or anything. The game against Kenjo is kept entertaining thanks to a few twists and turns, the biggest of which is the beanball thrown at Touma in episode 14. Even pros can totally lose their heads when they get hit by pitches, but we’re dealing with teenage athletes here. This could have been a disaster for all parties involved, but Touma takes his base and bides his time until he faces the pitcher with the roles reversed. I appreciated the characterization of both Kenjo’s pitcher and his coach; the former’s sour-faced appearance leads us to believe that he threw the ball out of spite for Touma’s previous homer, but he’s actually a reluctant participant in the affair. It’s Kenjo’s outwardly placid coach who makes a “joking” remark about which body part the boy should have targeted instead. Personally, I like the idea that the coach has created a “play to win” culture at the school, leading his players to take measures they’d never have considered before his arrival. We get some evidence to support that idea through flashbacks as the episode goes on, but there’s no confirmation either way.

The excitement of Meisei’s 3-2 victory over Kenjo was dampened by some poor sound mixing this week (no pun intended). It’s another complaint, I know, but this one is far less opinionated – whenever the orchestra moved up in the mix during episode 15, the dialogue was drowned out. This is an unfortunate oversight for a production that’s already relying on a lot of visual shortcuts, like reused pitching animation, and speed lines at the top and bottom of cuts that don’t really require them. The lack of polish is taking its toll on my enjoyment of the show, as I’m struggling to find things to write about. Nobody’s reading, I know, but addressing Tomohito’s horrible treatment of his brother is important, and I can hardly find the motivation to give it more than a nod. Similarly, I ought to talk a bit about the focus on Kenjo’s right fielder, which the show uses to conclude the game. As a senior, the summer tournament was his last chance at high school glory, and Touma dashes his dreams seemingly without breaking a sweat. These are fine moments in isolation, but my overall impression of episode 15 was that it looked kind of cheap.

My favorite moment from either episode is the last scene of episode 14, which sees Mrs. Tachibana returning home from the grocery with a copy of Baseball for Dummies in one of her bags. Her desire to support her children (both biological and not) is made plenty clear by this shot alone, but the conversation with her deceased husband is what put the scene over the top for me. She processes her feelings by speaking out loud to him, coming to grips with her willingness to remarry and the connection between the two loves of her life. There aren’t many sports series that would take time away from a match to give us such a rich character moment, but it’s a great choice, because it takes us out of the past (which Mix loves to dwell on) and plants us firmly in the present, where Meisei’s run in the summer tournament has just begun.

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