hit and run

I’m always in the mood for a good sports anime.

Gratz to issa-sa who got my mystery series correct. Yes, Ookiku Furikabutte did stop airing in October 2007, it does feature the triangle mouth, and, if I needed to toss a third pitch out, it would have been “from the writing team that brought us Gundam 00.” So cheers to issa-sa, and have some Maria Momoe fanservice as a reward.


I guess it’s not a shocker that I’m a fan of the sports anime genre. Like any other anime genre, it’s cliched up the wahzoo. Misfit but likable team. Impossible odds. The climb to the top. Mighty Ducks. Fightin’ Armadillos. Never gets old. But one thing about sports anime is that I like them real. I’m pickier about this genre than most because I prefer my sports anime to be about heart and emotion with the sports as a backdrop. And Ookiku Furikabutte doesn’t deviate from this backdrop. It follows the formula, and it follows it well.

Ookiku is that it is about a baseball team full of flawed individuals, but, when taken as a whole, they are a near perfect team. The team revolves around its mentally fragile (I’m being very kind) pitcher, Mihashi, whose personality at the beginning makes Shinji Ikari look like Simon. That’s his flaw. He’s a wonderful and hard working pitcher who is overshadowed by his own emotional shortcomings. In terms of evolution, if we use a scale from 1 to 100 where 1 is Shinji Ikari and 100 is Kamina, Simon would probably start out somewhere like in the 50 range (remember, Simon wasn’t exactly a wuss at the beginning) and reach 110 by the time he’s done. Mihashi starts at about a -10 and reaches maybe a 60.

His catcher, Abe, has his own inner demons and his own hubris, but when paired with Mihashi, their flaws seem to cancel, and they become the best battery this side of Hiro and Noda (if you get that reference and you haven’t seen Ookiku, you should be ashamed of yourself). The other teammates all have their issues, whether pride or physical or mental or academic, but the team has a way of helping each other and compensating for everyone’s weakness, much like the Dai Gurren Brigade. There is an overriding theme about teamwork and friendship that makes Ookiku a refreshing series after listening to the lastest Kobe talk on SportsCenter.


Watching this series, you get the full buffet. There’s baseball. Lots of baseball. If you enjoy baseball strategy, then this series is a no-brainer. It’s a bit deeper than both Major and H2, and there’s enough Initial D-type twists to keep the baseball scenes engrossing. Honestly, if it can’t do baseball well, then why bother? But no worries. There’s comedy. Every scene with Mihashi is comedy. He is pathetic and whiny, but I don’t have the same desire to punch him in the face that I do for Shinji Ikari. I think the big difference is that after meeting the people in Mihashi’s early life, you feel more like punching them. There’s drama. The story is rich, and most of the characters are interesting. There’s edumacasion. Did you ever expect to get monologues about hormones and meditation in the middle of a baseball anime? There’s fanservice. Thank you Maria! She’s the twenty-odd year old busty female version of Jim Leyland crossed with Light-o. If that doesn’t give you nightmares and horrors, I don’t know what will. She seems to get off every time one of her strategies work, and her face is constantly vacillating between pleasure (the getting off part) or the Light-o “Just as I planned!” face. I don’t think I’ve seen any other.


(The manager, Chiyo, is a cutie. You know you’re in a good hands with a baseball anime when the coach is a raving lunatic while the manager could be yet another rejected girl on Da Capo.)

The big reason why I haven’t checked it out until recently is because, well, it’s very under the radar. I’ve received zero e-mail (compared to the almost weekly e-mails I get about Dennou Coil, which isn’t as engrossing as Ookiku) and zero comments about this series, and I think it just got lost in the shuffle back in spring 2007. I’m not sure why. I think most English speakers who watch anime aren’t big sports fans (see, aren’t you glad I’m here?), and while baseball is waning in the US, it’s still very big in Japan.

I ended up going back and watching this series just because of the Gundam 00 link, and I’m a sucker for a good sports anime. I felt that it’s overall better than Major (which got three plus fricking seasons) and H2 (which relied too much on the love triangle and not enough on the baseball).

Ookiku ran for 25 too-short episodes (last one in October), and the manga, a Kodansha General Award winner (Mushishi won in 2006), is still serialized in Afternoon.


17 Responses to “hit and run”

  1. I do believe meromero guessed it first

  2. whew, almost got the spam protection question wrong

    mihashi pissed me off to no end in the early going of this show, but the baseball was enough to keep me watching. now that he’s finally come around, it’s a pretty good show. i just wished they didn’t feel the need to start him at -10 just to show character growth. I mean, cmon… was literally clawing at my throat watching him cry endlessly.

  3. Eh? Didn’t SZS win this year’s Kodansha award?

  4. I like your manliness scale. I think this new measurement standard needs to be explored further. For example, where would Ginko fit? He’s Kamina-caliber bad to the bone, but in his own completely different and quirky sort of way.
    And what about the gruff, serious, rough around the edges heroes like Sagara, who start off badass and increase in coolness throughout the series, yet also manage to get in touch with their sensitive side? Does he move up or down the scale?
    The world needs answers to these questions!

    …and while baseball is waning in the US, it’s still very big in Japan.

    Go Hanshin! Yeah!

  5. *passes the praise to meromero who guessed first (and if it wasn’t for meromero i wouldn’t have remembered about the mouth thing)* I’ll just say that I’m a complete sports noob who knows next to nothing about baseball (which isn’t played in my country) and i STILL found Ookiku a really good watch. The baseball tactics fly clear past my head like any of Mihashi’s pitches would, but the team as a whole is a really endearing bunch despite their individual shortcomings, and Maria’s grapefruit squashing antics are a hoot LOL. Certainly another surprise favourite series of mine from this year’s unpredictable selection.

  6. Well, the crazy coach certainly fills a shirt well, from the look of it.

  7. >> I do believe meromero guessed it first

    My bad. My memory is only good for 13 hours. o_o;;

    >> Eh? Didn’t SZS win this year’s Kodansha award?

    There’s four categories. Zetsubou tied the shounen category. Mushishi won in the general category in 2006; Ookiku in 2007.

    >> was literally clawing at my throat watching him cry endlessly

    I thought he was funny. Clawing at my throat would describe the male cast of Kimikiss nicely though.

    >> Maria’s grapefruit squashing antics

    Actually, they were pomelo. The only reason I know is that my parents love this fruit so I ate a lot of it when I was little. When Maria whipped out the bag, I was like “Pomelo is the new melonpan?”

  8. I’ll be honest. When I first saw the screen shots for this, I thought it was yaoi.

  9. jeez, jason, if I had any doubt before, there’s absolutely none now. How do I know you’re Taiwanese? ’cause your parents love pomelo.

  10. >>while baseball is waning in the US, it’s still very big in Japan.
    What the Red Sox versus the Rockies wasn’t exciting enough for you?
    Schilling! Big Papi! Manny! National Treasure! Beckett! Okajima! Palpebon! and uh…um Helton!

    I’ll get to watching Ookiku now after having about 9 episodes sitting on my laptop for a month. Even if you made me imagine Leyland with tits.

    and goddam your spam protection isn’t kind to people who just finished a long shift of work.

  11. No one watched this because there were no consistent fansubs.

  12. Hahaha don’t worry (lol at the 13 hours memory XD). I’ve watched only until episode 5 but I loved it (and don’t kill me but the little yaoi hints made this one really funny ^_^)

  13. Bah, subs are only up to 10 right now. It’s a long and treacherous road for us non-moonspeakers. How I love/hate teasers, if only the goodness could be ready right now.

  14. “When making love…when making love…in an effort…to prolong…the moment of ecstacy…I think of baseball players.”

    I don’t think this will work anymore…

  15. >> Kikimaru

    You’re quoting Woody Allen on an anime blog. I think it’s a first time ever. I’m just glad it was on Derailed by Darry.

    >> Schilling! Big Papi! Manny! National Treasure! Beckett! Okajima! Palpebon! and uh…um Helton!

    My favorite part of the World Series was right after Papelbon threw out the last pitch, Varitek jumped into his arms, Papelbon grabbed Varitek’s ass, and it was the gayest moment of the year. Bar none. Gundam 00 has a high bar to beat.

  16. Damnit, some company out there needs to make another season of Princess Nine. :(

    I want closure!

  17. i was following this from the beginning.. but delayed by the subs.. i love the show.. got me into baseball n sports genre i think.. hehs.. think i’ll cont when the subs come out.. cant wait to finish the show (=

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