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Big Windup! Review

September 26, 2010

Sports anime has always been a hard sell in the United States. You can blame it on nerds not liking sports and jocks being “way too cool” to watch those silly Japanese cartoons. Either way, FUNImation took a huge risk when it decided to release 2007’s A-1 Pictures’ baseball anime, Big Windup! Sadly, that risk didn’t pay off to the point that FUNImation will not even attempt to release Big Windup! on DVD, therefore this review is only for the first season.

Big Windup! is one of the uneven sports shows out there. The story revolves around Ren Mihashi, the ace pitcher at his old middle school. It was rumored around the team that the only reason Mihashi attained the position was due to favoritism because his grandfather owned the school. Because of this, the allegedly better pitcher, Kanou was benched and Mihashi’s entire team despised him and refused to work with him to the point that they lost all their games in middle school. Due to this, Mihashi had low self-esteem and decided to not pick up baseball in high school. Despite trying to avoid baseball, he is recruited by the baseball team’s coach, the voluptuous coach Momoe and with the help of his catcher, Abe they plan to take the baseball team as far as they can.

Most of the show revolves not on baseball, but rather the character interactions. It’s quite heartwarming to see everyone on the team (in an extremely romanticized manner) cheer on Mihashi as he tries to gain confidence as a pitcher. The reason why I called this show uneven is the fact that the show takes place throughout two games (one of which is a scrimmage). The show starts off quite strong and ends up becoming dull after the first game. This can seriously irk some, especially because the setting can become very trite after two or three episodes. A lot of the series takes place inside of Abe and Mihashi’s head and if you do not like Mihashi’s timid personality and Abe’s tolerance for it you will not like this show, at all.

Another reason one might not like the show is for its subtle but yet obvious yaoi tones. The relationship between Abe and Mihashi is very seme-uke and can irritate the plethora of its male audience. An example of this would be Mihashi’s constant inner monologues of how he can not pitch without Abe and he wouldn’t be anything without him. Despite these small preferences, the show is an extremely cute romanticized version of what being in a sports team. Despite there being little to no plot, the character interaction between the characters’ and Mihashi’s slow but progressing self-esteem make this show worth it.

The artwork in this show is very clean and refined. Although the color in the show is a bit dull, the animation is very fluid and everyone moves in a realistic manner. The character designs are from Takahiko Yoshida who draws his characters reminiscent of his prior work on Honey and Clover, pink blush and all. The score for this anime is not very prominent and doesn’t add much. However, both opening and ending songs are perfect for the anime and the endings specifically add a sense of relief after watching an episode.  The English dub is quite good, but I however stuck with the subs based on preference. The dub is perfectly serviceable, but it suffers from actors I’m used to hearing every other dub.

Big Windup! is a show that deserves more credit. If you can get over the whiny character and the slight yaoi tones, this show makes a great anime to watch when you have some spare time. It isn’t a must watch show of the decade, but it is an anime that keeps you entertained even if it gets a bit dull in the later half, and that’s something you just can’t say about much anime nowadays. You can probably find cheap copies of Big Windup!  on Amazon and it comes with the awesome OVA Basic of Basics that’s almost better than the entire show.

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