Baseball Season

It occured to me, repeatedly, that there are 3 baseball anime this season and I’m also watching the MLB as per the past, uh, decade. It’s still April so nothing really newsworthy other than Ichiro’s retirement game and how it was done in Tokyo Dome. It was a bit surreal because the news was all over social media and I also had to hear my big boss talk about it in a company meeting. That was fun. Anyways, IMHO baseball anime is also fun.

I really enjoyed Cross Games, which is my only personal connection to Adachi’s brand of baseball. Maybe that’s for the best–I’m not sure if I can stomach his other works (like Touch namely). I’m willing to give Mix a try, especially if I had some easy way to stream it.

But I’m continuing on the Ace of Diamond series now that it has resumed again. I think it is still the best baseball anime that balances reality with the dramatic overall. Oofuri, as much as I loved that, is probably too real and too boring for most sports-anime types.

And yeah, baseball is kind of boring! Oofuri deserves mad props to incorporate that aspect into your story, while still maintain some excitement to make the story not suck.

I realize the amazing thing about these 3 baseball anime this Spring is not just that there are 3, baseball anime this spring. The amazing thing is how different all of them are at tackling this genre. Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine (HachiNai or Hachi9 or 89) is your standard group-gathering of cute, school-age anime girls building out a baseball club of legends. It comes from the root of a media-mixed, gacha-based freemium mobile game, so the expectation is very character-driven. That just means each of them will be really quirky and easy to remember.

And media mix as in, there’s a 4-koma manga by bkub and a proper manga adaptation I think…? What I loved about the Hachinai game (that got me playing a couple years(???!!) ago) was how the game visuals and designs were extremely “up my alley” in that soft pencil, sweat-drenched youth style (sup Oofuri) complete with materialization of hopes and dreams in sparkles and silly motion-comic dialogs that I always hit skip on. I mean the gacha animation is 2d anime of the protagonist running after a sparkle (and depending if you got a SR or SSR, the sun would set or turn night!!) which she jump-grabs by the fist. It sums up the concept so well.

The story mode for the game features a series of minigames that “produces’ the team through a set of time-specified training tasks (think: WING in Shinymas) in which you can grind mats to level up your guys, and/or beat the competition in the tournament. The baseball game itself is more like a statistical display than an actual game. As you would imagine, most of the baseball coaching and management is dealing with “cards” that you level up and otherwise make more powerful, your deck being the bench slots and batting order of a baseball team.

So far the anime is too preoccupied to not self-destruct to carry forward with all that tender loving sakuga so I am a little disappointed. In exchange, all the cool animation from the trailer and OP and the series so far has made it back into the game, so that’s a nice touch. Also a nice touch is hearing the voice acting cast doing it anime-style. This is a shock in that there are some very new seiyuu mixed in there with some experienced newish seiyuu (is Hanabe new still?) which makes for a delightful, if jarring, experience. Man I need to get used to Karaage sounding so high pitched.

Yeah Hachinai is the odd one out. Well, maybe Adachi’s comic adaptation is not so different than Terajima’s Ace of Diamond, but in my mind one is actually about baseball, the other is a lot more about soft aspects of the sport, like an ESPN 30-for-30. And then you have this thing that’s arguably not even about baseball in that standard postmodern sense. Well, it’s more about that brand of Koshien-tinted, romantic reminenence to high school sports than baseball, at least. So I think it’s not too unlike Mix even, if you can see past the plot device.

I’m watching all 3, or will try. Two of them are on CR so it’s business as usual but it will be trying to follow Mix, especially if it doesn’t grab me strongly at first (but this is Adachi…so if it doesn’t, it’s not without trying).

PS. Just some random notes:

  • There are 4 WUGchans in Hachinai, hopefully we’ll see at least two if not all of them. Most of the usual seiyuu baseball people are in this game, for those who follow the HRr mainline and spin-off events/shows.
  • By the way there was a free 10-draw campaign in Hachinai to coincide with the first week of the anime release, and I pulled Myu’s character’s SSR during it. While watching the anime. The anime is a good way to remind me to play this game (as I have neglected it most of the time).
  • Nonchan voiced one of the little boys in episode 2, which is cool.
  • ChikuwaP is still doing the player announcement for Dia no A, and Mako’s jelly tweet for that after the last event was lol. I mean, I understand where she’s coming from. Baseball seiyuu dream gig would be announcing at Koshien, yeah? BTW during her anniversary event last weekend she did the beer pour from a backpack keg! Another cool thing I want to see more of re: JP baseball culture.

PPS. Oh, right, I wrote this post after reading this and forgot the riposte. I quote:

Unlike Mix, where baseball has been a part of the characters’ lives for a long time, Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine features mostly neophytes, at least in terms of skill level.

What a load of bollocks. Did you even pay attention to episode 2? At least 2 of our core 4 characters grew up with baseball. Actually 3 out of 5. OK fine Mix it’s 100% but I think you meant to say that there’s a clear difference between living with baseball and actually playing it? Actually, isn’t that entirely the heart of the matter, mister media critic? I think this is a critical failure in wording.

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