Months back, when the list of all the animes that would be released were out, it was hell for me. Previewing over 50 new titles was a daunting task. As with any other season of the year, when it comes to Spring, or Autumn, its always been a very busy part of the year.
After finally previewing almost all of them, i must say that this year’s anime is somewhat lackluster as compared to last year’s. But that doesnt mean that all were bad. There were some pretty good ones. Examples include Hayate no Gotoku, Claymore, Romeo x Juliet, Gigantic Formula, Seirei no Moribito and a few others as well.
And its easy to overlook some potentially good titles. My friends used to say that when it comes to previewing new and latest anime series, im pretty much accurate as to predict which ones are good or bad as the series progresses. Its not easy actually, but once you’ve watched over 180 titles over the past 4 years you kinda know what are the elements you need to watch out for. Watching the first episode of a series may not tell you much in the beginning, so its really hard to judge and determine if the series is good or not.
Mind you that i am pretty aware of the fact that the popularity of a anime series would have been long anticipated, especially when the manga counterparts have reached a certain level of awareness and interests from the general audiences. As commonly known, a majority of animes are originally from mangas. In order to be adapted to the TV, mangas usually have to reach a certain level of interest and fanbase size. So, in my opinion, this is one good indicator of whether a manga title is good or not, which in turn would generally reflect the anime’s success. Take for example, commonly known manga titles such as Death Note, Bleach and Naruto (and many many more). These mangas and their anime counterparts have reached outsanding popularity.
But then again, the success of the anime, would largely depend on the adaptation from the manga. In short, there are instances where the manga enjoyed a phenomenal success, but the anime adaptations are just plain bad. Take for example Black Cat, Shaman King etc, where to my understading, the story from the anime and manga are totally different and that can upset fans of the popular series. Others include halting anime adaptation after certain volumes of the manga, such as Fruits Basket, Juuni Kokki, Fullmetal Alchemist and others.
So to summarise, my predictions are based on the anime series strictly and not based on the words of mouth or publicity made directly from mangas itself. I dont read mangas but sometimes, you might have heard up and coming manga titles that are all the rage currently under adaptation. Those are a generally good indicators to potentially good titles. But most of the time i am usually clueless on what the anime has to offer and its up to me to filter based on what i like and what i dont like.
Ookiku Furikabutte is generally a sports type of anime. It chronicles the life of 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, with the assistance of his friends, he grows in stature, confidence and skill, helping his team excel with his own ability.
Generally, i never like anime featuring sports, be it soccer, american football, cycling, tennis etc, so i was so ready to ditch Ookiku Furikabutte. However for some reason, i decided to give it a try. I saw the promotional poster and ad around the net and for somehow i felt that this series would be a little bit different than the rest ive seen so far. Character design wise, i felt that it was kinda different (which i dunno how to explain when it comes to describing art) a very different vibe im receiving from this title. After watching the first episode of Ookiku Furikabutte, i basically learnt the basics of baseball. It was that incredible. Somehow, i knew some of the terms used in baseball, such as pitching, first baseman, second basemen, center fielder left and right fielder and so on. I even learnt the different types of pitching, such as fastball, curveball and the likes. With no prior knowledge of baseball, and its rules, this title got me interested in the world of baseball.
But then, knowing this wasnt good enough in convincing me that this title is gonna be really good by my standards. It was only when i went to Akihabara during my Japan holidays, when i noticed there were alot of publicity made about this title. I even snapped a photo of a shop promoting the release of the first DVD.
They have posters and TV screens broadcasting the trailers, openings and small snippets of the anime itself. From then on i thought, could this series be that good? Soon I realised that there were numerous Japanese anime and manga magazines with Ookiku Furikabutte as the cover and main article. Regardless whether i was in Japan or Singapore’s Kinokuniya, I saw Ookiku everywhere!!
The DVD was recently released too, with the first volume out with lots of goodies.
And it was no surprise however, that upon researching a little bit more on the manga itself, it has won the 2007, prestigious Kodansha Manga Award and Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize for best creative work in 2006. So no doubt, this title packs a punch!
You can watch the opening of the series below.
The song is entitled Dramatic, By Base Ball Bear.