I have this strange attraction to sports series like Big Windup and Eyeshield 21. I suppose it's the message of team building and "we can all do this together" that gets me excited. Rather than watching pretty boys compete in games of tennis, the positive attitude and group identity in all these team sports makes for a great story.
And that's what we've got here in Big Windup: a group of high school kids with some talent coming together to form something that's greater than the sum of their parts.
But worry not, this isn't a series that will have you analyzing "demon cuts" or "devil backfires" throughout the show. Instead, Big Windup sticks true to its seinen roots and tackles baseball in a straightforward, almost analytical route. And trust me, that's a good thing.
If you'd like to try something different, we have a video review of Big Windup waiting for you after the jump. Be sure to check it out!
After suffering a soul-crushing and emotionally-crippling three years of middle school, Ren Mihashi is ready to give up on baseball. His team never won a game, his teammates hated him, and yet he was put on a pedestal because his grandfather owned the school.
So, after moving to another prefecture and starting at a public high school, Mihashi goes to check out the baseball field, thinking he won't get on the team and can just move on with his life, only to be roped in as their pitcher. The problem for his teammates? Mihashi has no confidence in himself, and is easily reduced to tears at the most off-hand comment about his playing ability.
Yet, he's got some skills. It'll just take a lot of coaching in order to get out. The series mostly focuses on the relationship between Mihashi and Takaya Abe, the team's catcher. Not many of the other characters get developed in this 26-episode series anywhere near as extensively because the show only covers two games worth of baseball.
That's right, two games.
Big Windup takes you through each game play-by-play, highlighting the drama and tension of high school baseball, which is serious business in Japan -- possibly even more so than professional baseball. As boring as it may sound, the series spends a lot of time on the strategy of baseball, with players trying to out-think each other, a la Death Note. Except without the intense music.
The show was an immense pleasure to watch. A-1 Pictures' visuals were top-notch, and the Japanese cast captured all the players fantastically -- I wasn't a particular fan of the dub, as the characters sounded a bit too high-pitched or nasal for my tastes.
The show seemed to simply be a teaser for the manga, which is still going on in Japan and already has 12 volumes. I'm going to need to pick up some of those. The show left me in high spirits, but by the time it was over, I didn't want to leave the characters. I wanted to stick with them. Even if you're not big into sports, Big Windup will make you think about digging your glove out of the shed.