Posted on 16 January 2011 with categories: Ookiku Furikabutte



Apologies, I seem to have missed Ookiku Furikabutte’s DVD only episode. It’s a bit of a second epilogue and it’s very much like the DVD only episode of the first season: focused on the aftermath, both for the lead team and the ones from the opposing team. It’s been a while since the series finished, so I had a bit of trouble refreshing my memories and remembering who was who again, but overall I liked this episode.

This episode pretty much did everything it needed to do to wrap up this season, while at the same time leaving with a huge “we’re not done yet so read the manga”-end in which the different team members show their ambitions for the team (they did this once before, right?). We see some interviews, Abe’s visit to the doctor and also the opposing team as they mentally prepare for their next match, along with the anxieties of their captain.

I really wonder whether or not a third season will arrive. Overall the DVD and BD-sales have not been bad at all, averaging at around eight thousand copies per volume. This is however considerably less than how much the first season sold, not to mention the terrible reception of this series in the western world. Ah well, it’s a matter of time before we know for sure. There was a gap of three years between the first and second season after all.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 24 June 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Ookiku Furikabutte




I’ll just kick in the door immediately with this review: having only 13 episodes hurts. Ookiku Furikabutte was a show that set itself apart with its gruelingly long baseball matches. Take that away, and you take one of the essential parts of the series away. Nevertheless, don’t write this sequel off, because it also has a lot of points at which it actually surpassed the first season.

For those uninitiated, Ookiku Furikabutte is a baseball show. We often see series that focus on a bunch of teenagers that try to make it to Koushien, but they all have something that sets them apart. Ookiku Furikabutte has the incredible detail it puts into all of its matches. Every single detail is paid attention to, matches are complex and realistic.

A-1 did an even better job at the animation here. The animation is just consistently smooth and detailed with very few (if any) hiccups. Movements, especially during the baseball match are all very finely detailed. You especially have to love some of the far-away shots: in this series, those aren’t cheap excuses to draw less detailed, they are opportunities for animators to animate even more fluidly than they’re already doing. This has been by far the most detailed portrayal of baseball I have ever seen in anime. Screw the length of this show, it’s an excellent adaptation in which the creators succeed wonderfully in bringing the manga to life.

Compared to the first season, the biggest disadvantage of the second season is that the enemy teams just aren’t as colourful: due to the shorter length, they receive way too little attention in favour of the lead characters. These guys however, do get pushed into the right direction. The sequel successfully manages to iron out the few bugs it still had in the characters, and added quite a bit of interesting stuff to the most important ones.

It doesw have the worst match of the series: the first big match of the second season failed to live up to expectations, even when considering the shorter length of the series. However, the second match totally makes up for it. It had to be cut incredibly short (I doubt that the creators themselves even knew about this limited airtime when they first planned out the series), but still retained the essence of the match to make it just better and better with every episode.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Excellent attention to detail in its baseball, only held back due to a warped pacing and short length.
Characters: 8/10 – Very good characters, though the enemy teams could have used more details and colours.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Consistently excellent animation. A-1 really put their best into these visuals.
Setting: 9/10 – The best portrayal of baseball I have seen in anime so far

Suggestions:
Touch
One Outs
Princess Nine

Posted on with categories: Ookiku Furikabutte



Excellent epilogue of an excellent series. Overall, I’d really rate this as high as the first season: both have their own points at which they stood out: the first season really had an awesome climax with the second match. The second season in its turn trumped it with an even greater attention to detail. It’s a shame, because it really would have been superior if it weren’t for the limited episodes.

In any case, this episode stood out in that conversation between Mihashi and Abe. It was very genuine, it developed the relationship between them, it showed what kind of development has occurred between them through the past season. It’s great to see that the creators really took their time to show that particular scene.

One part I also loved was the very end, at that clip show in which we see how every character spends his evening. I was surprised at how much it added to their characters by showing in what kinds of homes they live.

In any case, even though a third season will be unlikely, my eyes are still upon aniplex here, thanks to news messages as this. It’s very interesting to see a producer company being headed by the founder of an animation company, and this might bring in even more interesting potential for Aniplex’s future.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 17 June 2010 with categories: Ookiku Furikabutte



I think that if I did not know about the series’ plans to suddenly cut off the series at episode thirteen episodes, I would have absolutely loved this past arc. Still, even though knowing that this arc could have been God knows how much better, I still loved the way that the past match evolved. It really showed how much more interesting your plot can become with a lot of added realism.

In baseball, losing matches are two of a kind: the margin of loss is so small that it depends on just one pitch whether the team would have lost or won, or they’re matches that the main team would never be able to win off, making them lose by a huge margin. This episode however, falls in none of those categories. six versus eleven is a huge difference, and yet until the final pitch I kept thinking that there might be some way for them to get back, or at least close most of that distance. The final pitch here was nothing glorious: it wasn’t your hot blooded pitcher battle between the two most important characters of the game. Instead, it was against a guy who was so scared with the weight put on his shoulders that he only could have hit that ball by sheer luck.

In any case, I’m glad that, knowing the episode count, the creators reserved at least one episode for the aftermath. This episode definitely made a huge impact on the characters, and this doesn’t just mean Mihashi and Abe. The guy who was up at the final pitch also must be thinking very hard about the way he completely blocked back there.

I wish I could say that a potential third season could really make a lot of use of this development, but let’s not kid ourselves: there’s no way that there’s going to be a continuation for this series. I doubt that even the creators knew that this series would only get thirteen episodes, judging by the pacing, or otherwise they would have cut back on the slice of life episodes, or that first match. This series was incredibly lucky already to get a sequel and license. Heck, A-1 only made one other sequel before: Birdy the Mighty Decode, and that was because it clearly planned beforehand. Even their most popular series, Kannagi, hasn’t gotten a sequel, despite being nowhere near complete.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 10 June 2010 with categories: Ookiku Furikabutte



Last episode I commented how the sudden rush to fit this match into only 13 episodes has caused this series to lose one of the things that made it so special: the incredible detail it put into its matches. But really, even without that, this sequel just has more than enough to make up for it. The pacing that suddenly turned fast here brought an entirely new dynamic to this series.

Seriously, if this sequel would have been 26 episodes long, it would have easily surpassed the first season. Here too however: the fast pacing made this an incredibly fun episode to watch; the creators cut the manga very skillfully to paste it into such a short time-frame: this series still is an truly excellent manga-adaptation. I really loved how this episode changed its mood so flexibly: one moment it’s cheerful, then it’s full of tension, then a bit of comedy is there, only to make way for a pitch that could severely change the outcome of the game. This episode was so full of different emotions that complemented and balanced each other out perfectly, and it was all as beautifully animated as ever.

Abe’s absence turned out to be quite an interesting twist here: Mihashi has to work together with a completely new catcher (and you can really see the two of them struggle to get warmed up to each other, and exchange theories). One thing I also love about this series is how often people score. I don’t exactly know how this usually goes in high school baseball, but it’s very refreshing to see these kinds of scores, as opposed to most other baseball series in which the pitchers are so god-moded that they end most of their matches with nearly a perfect game.

I originally did not like this condensation because of the first match of the second season. No offence, but it just wasn’t as good as the other matches. As it turns out though, it just was based on the weakest premise. For all of the other matches, some really interesting plot twists were planned to make them juicy, yet realistic, but there it was just average.

Adapting a manga correctly is often a matter of skillfully copying and pasting: what do you leave in, and what do you leave out to fit the time-frame? Ideally, you of course want the perfect amount of episodes for the story, but alas: anime’s business model just doesn’t fit that. I personally believe that it should be the role of the most successful and rich animation companies to start experimenting with the tried and true anime-format and go with new things. They’ve got enough money, so they should have plenty of resources to take such risks.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 3 June 2010 with categories: Ookiku Furikabutte



Ah, crap. Even I could see that this episode was rushed. The thing that set Ookiku Furikabutte apart from all of the other baseball series is that it takes every pitch seriously: it spends time at animating even the most unimportant pitches, treating them like they have the potential to change the entire game. In this episode, you could clearly see the creators rushing through these unimportant pitches. This really sucks. Even though there hasn’t been an official announcement yet, it really looks like the creators are planning to end this match at episode thirteen. There can only be one reason why they would suddenly decide on that.

I knew it was too good to be true, for A-1 to keep such an incredible animation-quality throughout this entire second season, while also animating Working and Senkou no Night Raid alongside it, added to Kuroshitsuji II, Occult Academy and Sora no Oto. They like,tripled their capacity in 2010 or something? The worst thing here is that trying to cram a new season into thirteen episodes just doesn’t work for this series. The reason why the first season was so awesome was exactly because of that gruelingly long match that took up eleven episodes. With this, they took away one of the best parts of this series.

And that really is a shame because this episode really was excellent as usual. Take a look at the point where Abe grabbed Mihashi’s arm tightly and let go of it again: it actually changed colour like you’d expect with a real arm. This episode was full of these tiny details that by far would have surpassed the first season if it actually would have gotten 26 episodes to fully drag out this series.

You can see the lack of time the most at the opposing team. Really, we only got to see a lot of the pitcher and catcher. Who are the other guys? To be honest, I have no idea. They lack the individuality of the team of the first season.

I know that there is still an option for a third season, but seriously: don’t hope for it. There have been plenty of series (and sequels) who suffered the fate of never being completed, even the very popular series couldn’t escape it. It’s the one thing I hate the most about anime: the tendency to not just fully animate something but rather just animate the beginning and then see whether or not the sponsors still feel like it.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 28 May 2010 with categories: Ookiku Furikabutte



Surprising amount of comedy in this episode. It ranged from the tickling to the interplay between Mihashi and Abe to angry coaches. Especially the tickling seems to be something that’s going to return more often in this series. Regarding this I do hope that the creators will prevent it from turning into a weird gimmick.

In any case, I’m intrigued about the length of this match. According to what people say, its length is even longer than the match of the first season, and yet in two episodes we’ve already gone through four innings. I’m guessing that the pacing will tone down in the next number of episodes, and these past two episodes indeed looked like they were setting the stage for the rest of the match. The point that was scored against them in this episode was really there to make clear that a lot has to happen here for them to win.

So yeah, that’s pretty much it. My entries on this series have been a bit short, but commenting on the episodes has been fairly straightforward: it’s consistently excellent in its portrayal of these matches and the animation still is consistently detailed.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 21 May 2010 with categories: Ookiku Furikabutte



And finally the real match of this season has started. To be honest, the previous ones did not feel as good as in the first season, with only three episodes dedicated to them. But yeah, they served their purpose well as build-up for the real meat. It’s here where every detail of the match gets under the spotlights.

And this match also starts out in a very different way from the other matches so far: this time the team isn’t the underdog, and has actually been researched. That pretty much results into them scoring four easy points. It’s a bit of a cliche in the baseball genre, but then again, what isn’t?

This episode also showed that the creators were really building up for Abe to become the weak link of this match, as his abuse only seems to get worse and worse here, up to the point where Mihashi gets more and more flustered when he tries to say something. But at the same time, Mihashi himself does try to speak out at lest. You can really see that his relationship with the rest of the team is getting better (like with the tickling), something that you can’t say for Abe.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 14 May 2010 with categories: Ookiku Furikabutte



Interesting to see that as the team keeps winning more, we get to see more and more of their family members. This episode showed a ton more parents and siblings who came by to support the lead characters. It’s an excellent way to flesh them out, and I’m glad that with such a large cast the creators also weren’t afraid to draw in such a large cast of parents and siblings. This is no standard show in which everyone and his dog lost their mother due to some illness or something: for once the mothers act like actual mothers: very talkative and supportive of their sons. I like them so much more than the “weak mother” stereotype.

Mihashi and Abe also were a major theme in this episode, I especially loved the contrast between their families: they’re both only children, but with Mihashi’s family the mood is very fidgety. Abe’s household is much calmer and colder, and yet you can tell that they’re family of each other. It was specifically a big episode for Abe, because he finally found out that he isn’t exactly the best friend.

It’s a bit of a shame that the creators glossed over the game for the best sixteen here (I would have loved to have seen what the heck happened in that fifth inning…) but it looks like the next match is going to get full coverage as we finally have a team who analyzed Mihashi’s pitches beforehand. Could prove to be very interesting.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 6 May 2010 with categories: Ookiku Furikabutte



Team building. I like how this series uses the quiet moments in between the matches in order to do this, rather than scheduling in a random episodic adventure somewhere. A lot of stuff happened in this episode, and it immediately started with the message that the opposing team that the lead characters faced in the previous arc isn’t done yet.

In this episode it also becomes more than clear that Abe and Tajima are taking turns in dealing with Mihashi. There’s actually a tiny bit of development here: Abe is getting more and more relentless with Mihashi, so much that even the teammates are really noticing how much on Mihashi’s lip he’s sitting. His reaction after Mihashi suddenly asked whether or not he’s going to stop catching was the most over the top we’ve seen of him so far. There’s a bit of a danger here with the creators going over the top with that, however. Like, the creators using a gimmick that worked well in the first season to extremes in the second.

Oh, and we learn a bit more about the coach: she’s a 23-year old college student. It’s still a bit of a mystery how she became the coach, but there are more characters like that who have yet to reveal their backgrounds despite very obvious hints (I’m looking at you, Hamada). This episode also introduces… fangirls. The fandom was always a bit downplayed in this series: even though it was mentioned a few times, you can really see that the creators were focusing on what happened on the field. At this point those girls are still a bit too one-sided at this point.
Rating: * (Good)

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