Tokuchi Toua is a master gambler who plays a simplified version of baseball called ‘one outs’. The rule of one outs is very simple, there is one pitcher and one batter. If the ball strikes three times, the pitcher wins but if the ball goes out of the infield, the batter wins. He is the unbeatable one outs player in the Okinawa area until one day, he is (kinda) defeated by a professional veteran batter named Kojima Hiromichi. He is persuaded by Kojima to join his team, the Lycoans baseball club and be a professional baseball player. He accepts it.
He then meets the team owner and negotiates a contract that has a ridiculously great disadvantage to his side; for every out he records, he will earn 5 million yen but for every run scored against him, he has to pay 50 million yen to the owner.
I’ve heard people say that this anime has many similarities with Death Note because of the mind games. Since they said it was similar to Death Note which is one of my favourite anime series, I thought to give this anime a try. And oh boy did I enjoy the hell out of this anime.
The first episode of this series actually didn’t get me feel eager to continue watching. It feels very slow and a bit unnecessary. But after the first episode when Tokuchi becomes one of the players of Lycoans baseball club, that’s when everything keeps on getting better and better.
Tokuchi has two main objectives that he has to keep in mind. First, make his newly joined team a champion by making the team participate in the major league. Due to his first loss against Kojima in the one outs game, Kojima made him promise to help them win the major league so he keeps his promise by doing everything he can to achieve that goal. Secondly, make sure that he scores out more than giving runs to the opposing teams because if not, it will be fatal for his yearly earnings.
It’s a really great experience to watch Tokuchi manipulating everyone including his teammates to ensure victory. His manipulating skills is pretty much the same as Yagami Light which is why I think people compare those two a lot. He can see and analyse people’s feelings and use this special ability to control and manipulate his opponents and his teammates towards his advantage. Even though he plays many games and use a rather similar manipulation method, it doesn’t feel repetitive because of the different situations and circumstances that he is put in every single match. This is due to the greedy owner that only thinks about money and wants Tokuchi to give runs to his opponents. It just feels different and better every passing matches. However, there is no sense of suspense here as you know that Tokuchi, using his sharp nose and cunning tactics will always win. There is only one time that he is considered cornered but that too gets solved by him really quickly. Maybe if the anime is more suspense, it might be even better. But what the anime already offers is still highly entertaining so I didn’t really mind this.
You are not exactly inside Tokuchi’s head. you don’t get to hear every single bit of his thoughts so you won’t know for sure what his actual plans are. His elaborated strategies will only be revealed after the plan was made successful and it will be revealed by either Tokuchi himself, people around him or the narrator. Yes the narrator. There’s a narrator in this anime which I find kinda… irritating I guess? Not really. It’s just that I’ve never seen an anime with a narrator before so it’s a bit weird for me.
The major downside to this anime is the secondary characters. I didn’t get attached to any of the secondary characters. The only characters that stood out more than the rest is Ideguchi and Kojima. But even then, Kojima didn’t stood more than Ideguchi which is strange to me because in the beginning, the anime shows that Kojima is a really great batter but later, it doesn’t show many proves to back that up. I remember only one scene that he makes a home run but other than that one scene, what did he do? Ideguchi gets the spotlight better because most of the time, he’s the one teaming up with Tokuchi making sure that Tokuchi’s plans actually work. Another character that I think is worth mentioning is the team’s manager, Mihara. His reactions after failing to see beyond the surface of Tokuchi’s elaborate plans are hilarious.
For what it’s worth, I don’t like the opening song. I think it’s really bad. Not just the song though, the visuals as well. If I show the opening scene to some people and tell them that this is actually a psychological mind game series, they probably won’t believe me. Honestly at first glance, I thought it was aired in 2005 or something. Because the atmosphere of the animation just felt sort of old but maybe special because it is wide screen. Apparently it was aired in 2008 Anyway the animation is not bad but it’s not that great either.
For a guy like me who doesn’t play baseball and doesn’t know the rules of baseball, I certainly enjoyed it even though I don’t understand some parts of it. But I sure did learn many things about baseball after I watched this series. So, I think if you know baseball more than I do, you might appreciate and enjoy this anime more than I did. But the best part of this anime is the psychological element. I agree with those who said this anime is similar to Death Note at least in that regard. So if you like anime like Death note, you might want to check this out.
~ 8/10 ~
~ Great ~