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Dated 1 February 2009: Major v. One Outs - or - Pitchers and Catchers Report in 13 Days

Tokuchi from One Outs.

I dropped One Outs after episode 14 because it stopped being about gambling and turned into a show about over-reacting to events that are commonplace during real-life baseball games. Kind of on a goof, I started watching Major instead, mostly because of its crazy shounen-type episode count. Well, it turns out Major is really good, and (at least through the first forty episodes) it depicts baseball reasonably accurately. It is much more realistic than Princess Nine or The Natural, for example. I would say Major is about equivalent to Bull Durham as far as the balance between fact and fiction goes.

Komori and Shimizu
Komori, the preternaturally skilled weenie kid,
consoles Shimizu, the token girl, from Major.

There is another significant difference that makes Major superior to One Outs: One Outs is about triumph and unshakable confidence. Major is about defeat and despair. In fact, Major is fantastically cruel. Watching some episodes, I was incredulous at times I was actually watching a kid's show. Then again, anime for younger children often seems willing to take things much further than spineless shows aimed at teenagers where all too often nothing of consequence happens.

Dated 18 February 2009: Mid-Season Rejects, Winter 2009

Tokuchi doesn't get sent to the showers, so he never bathes.

Last season, I started keeping track of the shows I watched and the shows I dropped. Current rankings of shows I've abandoned so far this season follow, with the last episode I watched in parentheses:

One Outs (14) > Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo (2) > Ride Back (4) > Kurokami The Animation (3) > Maria+Holic (2) > White Album (1) | Worse than Cosprayers: Akikan! (3) > Hetalia Axis Powers (3)

I dropped One Outs after episode 14 because it stopped being about steely-eyed gambling and started being about people overreacting to unremarkable events and commonplace baseball strategies. To pick up the slack, I started watching Major instead which turned out to be an excellent show about baseball and sometimes a good show about gambling, too. One Outs is still pretty entertaining, but you may have the same reaction I did depending on how much you know about baseball.

Nina and Itsuki
I kinda like Nina because of her hair. And because
she smokes in a high-oxygen environment.

I dropped Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo after episode two, but I'm willing to start it back up if it turns out to have a My-HiME mid-point switch or if something otherwise extravagant happens. I'm still waiting.

At least Ride Back has been better than Genesis Climber Mospeada so far.
Then again, Genesis Climber Mospeada isn't all that good, alas.

I wanted to like Ride Back. I like ballet. I like motorcycles. And I thought I'd like ballerinas racing around on motorcycles, but Ride Back is just too stupid for a show that takes itself this seriously. It would be fine if it were more over the top or Gundamesque in its science/mecha balance, but because it tries to be mature or otherwise respectable, I can't stomach it anymore. I let it go when the narrator casually mentioned a band of terrorists took over the entire world, but the cop-out conclusion to the race in episode two soured the racing aspects for me and the positively ridiculous episode four aspects (e.g., the rescue attempt, the escape attempt, the being mistaken for terrorists, the shockingly poor marksmanship of the anti-terrorist terrorists—basically the entire episode, really) turned me away completely. I'm okay with people jumping through plate glass without getting cut. It's television. But I'm not okay with pandering when it is dishonest.

[Update, 2024-04-28: Genesis Climber Mospeada is not very good, but it's better than Ride Back.]

Pretty much every character is an idiot
How about, I dunno, TRYING TO HELP instead of just standing there, genius?

I thought the doppelganger stuff in Kurokami: The Animation was pretty interesting, and some of the fights looked good. I was also intrigued by the show's apparent willingness to kill off characters unexpectedly. However, all the characters appear to be idiots and/or useless. You could trade the lead guy for a sack of expired luncheon meat and come out ahead in the deal.

Matsurika guitar
A transvestite air guitars his maid.

Maria+Holic just isn't very good. Maybe that doesn't matter if you have a thing for transvestites and lesbians, but I found it dull.

Wake me when Aya Hirano and Banana Mizuki have their Power of Song catfight.

White Album has a very boring first episode (this coming from a guy who has re-watched the first episode of To Heart too many times to remember, mind you), and none of the characters seemed to have any charisma. I was ready to punch Male Protagonist in the face when bamboozled by his confusion between live television and pre-taped broadcasts for the second time in 20 minutes. Choke yourself, guy.

I bought a melon soda because of Melon.
I played it safe and got a bottle, though.

Akikan! is terrible, but I probably would have continued watching it as a goof were it not for that odious Grape character. See, this kind of pandering is okay because it's honest. But Grape's voice just sounds so bad.

This is Germany. That's the joke.

Hetalia Axis Powers is offensive, but not for the reasons those Koreans sending death threats give. It is offensive because it fails so hard at being funny. When a five-minute show feels four-minutes too long, you've got problems. And how.

Dated 13 May 2010: Ookiku Furikabutte has more crying than Uchuu no Stellvia

Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball!

I tried to marathon the first Ookiku Furikabutte (A.K.A. Big Windup!) so I could start following the currently airing second season, but this show is unwatchable. This is not to say that Ookiku Furikabutte is a bad show, it's just annoying as all Hell. I can see how a lot of people might really enjoy Big Windup! and recommend it enthusiastically, but these are people with much higher tolerances for crying in their anime than me.

Abe and Mihashi
I call Mihashi "Chicken Face" because I can never remember his name.
Also he won't stop making this stupid beak-mouth expression.

I managed to finish the first nine episodes, and I think on average there must be four or five unrelated crying scenes in each episode. These boys cry over everything. Usually it's Chicken Face...err, Mihashi, who cries, because he cries all the time. Presumably it's to show character development and maybe by the end of the season he (hopefully) develops a spine and some sand, but I'll be Haruhi damned if you think I'm going to stick around to find out. Sack up, guys.

Abe and Mihashi
If catchers had aprons this pitcher would be clinging to one.

I'm okay with the latent homosexual content. (There is A LOT of latent homosexual content. [SPOILERS] This is basically Boys Love without the bishies.) I did watch Miracle Train, after all, and the husband/wife relationship between the pitcher and the catcher is played up quite often during baseball-themed shows (including Major and Taisho Yakyuu Musume, among others). That is to be expected. However, I am not okay with Chicken Face's paralyzing anxieties and complete lack of self-confidence. (By the way, it turns out Miracle Train isn't really gay at all.)

For a guy in the process of learning his new boyfriend is
a timid little girl, Abe is taking this rather well.

Ookiku Furikabutte is not all bad, though. For example, all the parts with Abe calling a smart game accurately reflect the thought processes that separate pitching from throwing. Thankfully, unlike One Outs, Big Windup! accomplishes this without pretending commonplace baseball strategies and tricks are shocking and amazing, even though they might seem so to neophyte spectators. If Ookiku Furikabutte cut the lousy drama queens or at least traded them for some "players to be named later," it could field a pretty decent baseball anime with the rest of the team, alas.