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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Anime Review: Ookiku Furikabute

Animation Production: A-1 Pictures | Director: Tsutomu Mizushima | Series Composition: Yousuke Kuroda | Original Creator: Asa Higuchi
The series, set in Saitama, follows Ren Mihashi, who had previously excelled as his middle school baseball team's ace pitcher, due to his grandfather's connections as its manager. As he graduates to high school, whose baseball team his grandfather does not manage, he initially does not believe he is good enough to succeed at baseball, however, but assisted by his friends, he grows in stature, confidence and skill, helping his team excel with his own ability.

I am not that knowledgeable about baseball, but you don't need to be one to appreciate this series. There are a number of animanga titles out there that deal with this sport, but Ookiku Furikabute (or Oofuri for short), in my opinion, is one of the best out there.

When thinking about the types of players that are incredible in a baseball team, one usually thinks of the pitcher and/or the batter, right? I thought that as well, but Oofuri made me realize that the other players are actually just as incredible. Well, yes, other sports show also show that teamwork is essential and that players in other positions have value as well, but it's not as emphasized as how this series did. This series made me realize that the relationship between the pitcher and the catcher is important, that the coach or the captain aren't the only ones who think of strategies, and so on. What's more, the players of the leading character's team aren't good because they're main characters.... nor because they highly depend on the skill of the most talented one. They are all skillful in their own way... and they got it from experience, hard work, and trainings. It may be true that it's too incredible for their newly formed team had beaten the champions from the previous tournament; but take note that they were underestimated, and they had been well prepared for that big game. It's no shounen sports miracle at all; they deserve it.

Moreover, it's not your typical shounen sports show wherein the leading character is someone who at the beginning has no idea or interest about the sport but later turn out to be extremely good on it. The leading character of Oofuri is different, because he became skillful out of hardwork. The players that are born gifted in the series even acknowledge that there are things they can't do if it's out of hard work. It's so wonderful that this series shows not only the awesomeness of gifted ones, but also the hardworking ones as well.

Like other good sports shows, this series also shows that an athelete doesn't only need skills, but he needs mental training as well. There are also strategies in sports, so it's valuable for players to do observations, analyses, and think of plans. You don't need to be intelligent to be good in such, but it's also important to do well in studies. Failing grades suck, no matter what a talented athlete you are. Baseball isn't everything.

Emotions and confidence also count... what great things one can do when he's happy and supported; how underestimation and intimidation can affect an individual; and so on. There are a lot of dramatic and also heartwarming scenes/moments in this series.... but none of them felt forceful.... nor angsty. It's not boring either.... it may look plain and simple, but it's actually very entertaining! It has great humor, from crack to subtle humor. Blame it on the characters for being so much fun~

Speaking of the characters, I really love the characterization and character development in this series. Not only the members of the leading character's team, but the players from other teams and even those who don't play at all are incredible in their own way. I find none of them as stereotypes.... which is perhas why I find none of them annoying. Even the females! It's true that not many of them get a big role in the show, but at least they don't just exist there to become a main character's love interest nor just to act as cheerleaders. What I also find wonderful is that many of the characters get a chance to shine! And if you watch this series form beginning to end, you can see that there is character development, and that's not only on major characters! They don't change fast, but they improve little by little... and only in the end you realize it easier how much they've changed compare to how they were before.

The relationships between the characters have been really wonderful as well. Opponents are friendly rivals; teammates have been like family; and so on. Hmmm... about the team bondings in this series, their interactions.... can make people think it might be BL/shounen-ai ^^; But seriously, it's not, and our boys get crushes on girls (*remembers Haruna's unrequited love*....*giggles endlessly*).... but maybe the creator is teasing the fans and giving subtle fanservice.... haha! If you watch those scenes with a perverted mind... you might think of... things. But honest, they're really innocent boys ^^; (Fine, I'm not sure with one of them *eyes Tajima*). I see those as friendship love.... and they're really adorable~

Overall, you don't need players with flashy/fancy/wild hairstyles nor teens with unbelievably muscular bodies to have cool characters. Neither do you need balls that emit flames or have players run in speed that can take down trees to have a cool sports series. By being simple, and focusing what a sport is supposed to be like, is enough to create a brilliant series.


Amandaa said...

Ahaha, nice review.
It made me smile. 8DD
I'm definitely looking forward to watching Season 2 of Oofuri. (;

Sapphire Pyro said...

Eepp... my typos =_= even with the title...

@ Amandaa
Thank you very much. I'm excited for the second season as well *_*

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