Posted by SuperWooper on 10 September 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Sports, Mix

It is well and truly baseball season on Mix, as one game leads straight into another in this doubleheader. I often refer to multi-episode posts that way, but this is the first to live up to the name. Meisei’s fluke of a win against Kaiou West paves the way for a pitcher’s duel in their destined semifinal match against Toushuu, where Touma exceeds all expectations (especially those of his brother). The series found some time for humor, parental pride, and extra-diamond rivalries during these two weeks, but baseball was the show’s prolonged focus for the first time in a long while. Overall, I’d say it managed the change-up with aplomb.

I emphasized the back-to-back nature of the games in the intro paragraph, but the Kaiou West game felt truncated, in truth. Part of it had already been covered in episode 20, but their submarine pitcher’s convenient injury ended things on an anticlimactic note. I can understand why that decision was made, especially with all the talk of the baseball gods wanting to see Hiroki vs Touma in the semis. Still, I would have preferred for such a showy, tiresome opponent to run himself out of stamina, rather than lose due to an unlucky ankle placement. Kaiou’s loss creates a rematch between two of the series’ best pitchers, but before that, there’s the matter of Tomohito, who’s stolen Ryou’s spot as the script-hogging Akai brother. With “If…” as an episode title, my guess is that he was trying to make a deal with Touma when they met between games. “If Touma can beat Hiroki,” he might be thinking, “I’ll join Meisei’s team next year.” His obsession with Hiroki means that anyone who can beat the guy would earn Tomohito’s respect; it’s anime’s version of the transitive property.

Episode 22 launches into the Toushuu game and stays there for the majority of its runtime, only leaving the field to hear from the characters’ mothers watching at home. The camaraderie and one-upmanship between the Tachibana and Oyama matriarchs was something to behold, both for its competitiveness and its romantic implications. When two women start commenting on the good looks and popularity of each other’s kids, plans to push them together may be in the works. The show first introduced Haruka as a long-standing Touma fan, but Souichiro gained a little ground thanks to these two very special viewers at home. The show also strengthened the Touma/Otomi connection by paralleling his current ball control with their past games of catch. Adachi has a deft hand when it comes to building relationships, but as far as who’s ending up with whom, there’s never much doubt.

As for the Toushuu game itself, it’s still scoreless after five and a half innings. Hiroki’s coach plans to rest him after the team builds a decent lead, but Touma’s performance is too strong to permit such a strategy. Hiroki takes this in stride, and demonstrates substantially more poise than the older man in the process. Visually, the game moves between dynamic-looking pitches and still images of batters striking out, which emphasizes the defensive nature of the match. There was one terrific-looking moment that I want to mention, though, around the 19 minute mark. In the scene, Toushuu’s third baseman has to chase down a bunt from Murotani and throw it across his body to reach first. The throw is off target, but the animation is ace – I suspect there are a couple veterans of baseball anime on staff, and one of them did this cut solo, without passing it to an inbetweener. Every so often we see something like this from Mix, and I’m always pleasantly surprised. It might be greedy, but I’m hoping for one or two more pleasant surprises before the series bows out in a few weeks.

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