Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 315 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
There’s no crying in baseball.
As a sports fan and devoted baseball enthusiast, Big Windup! joins the ranks of some of my favorite sports anime series whether its basketball or football. The first part of the series introduces us to the freshman baseball team and a most unusual yet talented young pitcher who brings hope to the nine players that find themselves out of spring training and in the tournament that might just make legends out of them. Big Windup!, Part 2 is here and the tournament has finally begun but be prepared for one of the most slow paced game of baseball we’ve seen yet.
It might have been fate or the luck of the draw that the Nishiura Nine find themselves starting off the Summer National School Baseball Tournament by going up against the defending champions of last year’s tournament … Tosei High. In the opening episode of Part 2, Episode 14, the game begins and Nishiura immediately becomes intimidated by Tosei’s lineup that includes a good pitcher and a captain with a good head on his shoulders.
Tosei’s pitcher manages to impress the delightfully spineless Mihashi as he watches the young seasoned pitcher strike out Tajima. Oh, but Nishiura is in no way backing out of this game and even more so that in the stands the male cheering squad has brought as many Nishiura High students they can find to cheer their team on with much enthusiasm. Many of the players mothers are also cheering their sons on as a group and Mihashi’s attractive cousin is there to root for him.
As I mentioned above, the second half of the series moves at a very slow pace and this is mostly because the series spends the eleven out of thirteen episodes getting into the mindset of each player as well as going through every little detail about a play. For the casual ball fan, the excessive attention to every detail might be exhausting but those who know that game well will find the details to be quite interesting. Very few shows about baseball lets you know what a catcher is thinking when he sizes up a batter or how said batter is trying to determine what type of pitch will be thrown.
Thankfully, the episodes zero in on Mihashi who is slowly developing confidence in the catcher, his teammates and himself. Of course, there are various moments that shatter that confidence and turns him into quivering coward and the thought of letting down his teammates has him almost feverish to the point that Abe, the catcher, keeps checking on him. Meanwhile, the other players are stunned when Mihashi comes up at bat and manages to hit a grounder. Also, thanks to his awkward fumbling ways, Mihashi manages to help a teammate get to home base and thus earn the first score of the game.
In the fourth inning, Nishiura just isn’t able to get their best hitters to make a dent in Tosei’s defense and it isn’t until Mihashi performs another miracle when he’s up at bat that his teammates finds themselves playing in the same level as the more experienced opposing team. The other team suddenly sees players like Tajima, Abe and Hanai as major threats. Many of them can’t even make heads or tails of Mihashi’s pitching style.
While the majority of the episodes get into the cerebral aspects of the game, there are many exciting moments in the game between Nishiura and Tosei. When Tosei wins the lead in one of the innings, Nishiura really hustles to keep up until the final moments when our team manages to tie and then jump ahead thanks to Mihashi’s pitching. The final moments of the game are most definitely the more exciting and the better part of this second part of the series.
With the outcome of the game surprising just about everyone, the final two episodes finds the Nishiura Nine gets some rest and allowing their star pitcher to recover from the game. While Abe still picks on the poor guy, he certainly proved a lot during the game. In the final episode, we find Haruna – who was Abe’s Junior High pitcher – trying to talk a teammate out of quitting the team and baseball. He even talked Abe out of not giving up on the game.
In the end, Part 2 of Big Windup! seems to move at a glacial pace that might not sit well with fans of the first part but when it comes down to it this is still one of the most entertaining sports anime series to come along. The characters are so well developed that we gladly follow the Nishiura Nine as they begin to show signs of promise. I still can’t recommend this one enough to sports fans and anime lovers alike.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
It’s the first game in the tournament and Nishiura High is up against returning champions, Tosei High who has an impressive starting lineup. Yes, the bulk of the 13 episodes are dedicated to a single game but there are exciting moments scattered throughout and we get a deeper view into the characters strengths and weaknesses.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is some of the best and the action flows perfectly so the baseball action looks good in motion. I still get a kick out of Mihashi’s frightened bird-like expressions.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice work is still top notch although there are noticeable inconsistencies in the pronunciations of names and Japanese words for the amazing English dub cast. I definitely enjoyed the original Japanese voices a little better in this series and the music is still sweeping and wonderfully cinematic.
Short on extras, the only thing you’ll find in the second disc are the textless opening and closing songs and a number of trailers. We definitely would have loved an audio commentary track for one or two of the episodes.
Things slow down considerably in Part 2 of Big Windup! and with most of the episodes in this set dedicated to one game there is still much to like about this second part. Sure, it becomes frustrating when a series dissects just about every detail of a sport but Big Windup! keeps sports and anime fans cheering either way.