Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Big Windup! Oofuri DVD Complete Series S.A.V.E. Impression

Great baseball action at a nice low price! Are we talking about cheap seats to a bad MLB team? Nope, we’re talking about Big Windup! Oofuri from FUNimation. This anime of an all freshman high school baseball team has received the S.A.V.E. (super amazing value edition) treatment and getting a full series for the price should not be missed. What’s the story all about? How’s the animation? Lots of questions so let’s get to it.

Middle school is over, time for high school baseball. For Mihashi this means a new school where is failings of the past, not to mention his family ties to the school, are in the rear view mirror and he can work to be the #1 pitcher he wishes to be. With splintered confidence but an array of solid pitches Mihashi must learn to trust his new catcher Abe and the new team behind him. The first challenge is building trust and a practice game against his old school Mihashi Academy. Conquering this challenge won’t be easy nor will the summer baseball tournament where Nishiura draws the defending champs Tosei full of seniors and experienced players. The challenges facing Mihashi and the players of Nishiura will be many but with an energetic female coach and faculty advisor full of off-field mental exercises the team will be in great shape to compete. Warm-ups are over, it’s time to play ball.

Sports anime are interesting. How do you recreate the love of a game in a story driven animation? Well for Big Windup! it’s all about the characters and setting. Mihashi is not the prototypical ‘hero’ athlete and his issues, failings are easy to connect with for many a viewer. The story introduces enough background to make the characters seem real and the two games (yes two games) played over the course of the series not only add drama but show growth in each player and teaches a bit about baseball. All this is accomplished by using humor and intensity at the right time and the outcome is never 100%. It’s a really, really well told story with great characters. The animation does not let down the action with good character design and moments of intensity that come across as any major moment in an ESPN highlight. The action and animation deliver to the point of feeling the nervousness and excitement of the game. Well done on all fronts.

Let me state this. I’m not a big sports anime fan. I’ve gotten into the manga Slam Dunk and really dug the anime for Bamboo Blade but this is the first American sport anime I’ve dove into and it was good, not what I expected. There are a few baseball lessons thrown in but I found myself liking these characters and their issues, even the bonus episode about a different group of players, it’s just fun. I will most definitely be grabbing a few more sport anime to check out and for the price of S.A.V.E. I’m not really sure how any anime fan can pass up this series.

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