- Titles: Oofuri; Ohkiku Furikabutte; Swing Big!
- Genre: Sports!, school, comedy, anxiety
- Episodes: S1 25, S2 13
- Studio: A-1 Pictures
All his life Ren Mihashi has wanted one thing, to stay on the pitcher’s mound. Being the grandson of his middle school principal that was surprisingly easy. Regardless of the fact that the rest of the team weren’t exactly thrilled with it. But now that he is in a brand new school with a team he’s never played with, will he be able to hang on to the pitcher’s spot. What can a boy who always thought of himself as worthless do in such a situation? Turns out it’s not all about the player, it’s about the team!
I have wanted to watch Big Windup for quite a while now. I am generally a fan of Sports! anime and this was a title I had frequently seen recommended but didn’t have access to until recently. However, once I caved and signed up with Funi, Big Windup was one of the first titles to go on my watch list!
I practice, there isn’t that much truly remarkable about Big Windup as a production. It’s certainly a very competent production and I quite liked the more rounded character designs but nothing jumps out at you. Except maybe the sunsets. There’s a lot of really beautiful sunsets throughout this series and the colours are something to behold.
But just because a production isn’t all weird and striking doesn’t make it bad. Big Windup is extremely consistent. The characters pretty much always look exactly like they should. There is very little loss of detail or odd angles throughout both seasons. The animation is smooth and reliable. The voice acting sounds like a bunch of kids playing baseball together. Everything is on point. Considering it came out in 2007, that’s actually pretty good. It looks better than stuff currently airing. A-1 makes a good Sports! anime.
This said the story is pretty standard as well. I once wrote that of all the genres, Sports may be one of the most formulaic and predictable. Big Windup is certainly proving me right. We have a physically unimposing protagonist who is an underestimate prodigy and is marked by his almost preternatural passion for the sport. A ragtag team of underdogs taking up their first real competition season. And a young coach full of dreams.
This stuff more or less writes itself. Very few Sports anime really diverge from the set tropes and formulas. They are pretty much always character-driven dramedies with set arc structures. as well. As such, each show tends to have a hook. Something to set it apart. Sometimes they deal with unusual sports, other times they add in a lot more tragedy pr mix in the character archetypes. Haikyu!! switched the structure so that the ensemble cast was much more prevalent than in most series making it a multiple protagonist show. It also tweaked the standard archetypes to give everyone multiple foils.
In Big Windup the hook is anxiety…
Ok, not exactly but close enough. The protagonists of Big Windup are pitcher Mihashi and catcher Abe. The battery seems to be what baseball animes concentrate most on. Like in Ace of Diamond, it’s the catcher that’s actually more experienced and arguably more talented and Mihashi that strives to prove himself to him and the rest of the team. However, Mihashi does have previous experience with baseball, having been on a team in his middle school but because of that experience, his confidence is completely shot.
The twist on the classic passionate limited prodigy is that Mihashi is a prodigy that has unmatched control on his pitches but those pitches are slow. However, his issue is that he thinks he’s a complete loser that can only succeed because the catcher is doing all the hard work and that he will be kicked out of the team any second now.
This switches up a lot of the dynamics. Mihashi isn’t ever boasting that he’ll lead the team to victory or bragging that he’s the ace or anything like that. Rather, the bulk of his interactions with others is desperately trying to lay low and not do anything that would get him benched or taken off the team permanently.
It’s kind of cool. Sports anime does deal with insecurities a lot but rarely in such an open and raw way. On the other hand, it gets exhausting. Mihashi is constantly jumping, cowering, hiding and flinching. Most of the time he can barely get his words out. It’s very well acted and I felt for the poor boy but when someone with as little patience as me has to sit through that for two seasons, well it’s not always the best time.
And this is where I think I would have loved Big Windup as a manga. Unfortunately, it’s not super easy to find but I will look into it. Basically, everything that annoyed me about Big Windup, some of the pacing, Mihashi’s admittedly good characterization and certain repeated themes, would work really well in a manga. It would probably be one of my top Sports! manga.
As it is, I am quite happy I watched the anime. And if you are a fan of the genre or just a fan of baseball, it’s worth a watch. As long as you’re not expecting any surprises, Big Windup is a very solid series.
Favourite character : Momoe!
Suggested drink: Montgomery Slugger
- Every time Mihashi tears up – get a kleenex
- Every time Momoe is best coach – cheer
- Every time someone says Koshein – take a sip
- Every time Abe hates pitchers – take a sip
- Every time we see any one’s old teammates – take a sip
- Every time Abe gets exasperated – cower
- Every time we see a beautiful sunset – take a sip
- Every time the manager falls – take a sip
- Every time anyone on the team gets lucky – take a sip
- Every time the boys share a meal – get some snacks
- Every time anyone is into the coach – understand
- Every time anyone is scared of the coach – also understand
- Every time someone other than Mihashi is scared of Abe – take a sip
- Every time we meet a player’s family member – take a sip
- Every time a batter greets the umpire – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.