The story begins when Hiromichi Kojima, the star batter of the fictional Lycaons in Japan's Pacific League, heads to the southern Japanese island of Okinawa to train and bring himself out of a slump. There, he meet Toa Tokuchi, a 134 km/h (83 miles per hour) pitcher and the undisputed king of a gambling form of baseball called "One Out." At Kojima's urging, Tokuchi signs up with the Lycaons under an unusual contract: he gets 5,000,000 yen (about US$46,000) for every out he pitches, but loses 50,000,000 yen (US$460,000) for every point he gives up.
“What does it mean to be a winner, the last one standing? It means to climb over a mountain of corpses to get to the top. By no means is it a glorious sight to behold, and in fact, it is extremely cruel. Even so, if you still wish to seek victory... then you must become a devil.”
Tokuchi Toua’s words reverberate through Kojima Hiromichi’s mind as he steps up in the decisive showdown against their biggest opponents, the all-star Chiba Mariners team. Kojima is the cleanup batter of the struggling baseball team, Saikyou Saitama Lycaons. Even though he is regarded as a local hero, he has never won the championship. At the age of 43, this season might be his very last chance. It has only been a year since he first encountered this extraordinary young man in an underground baseball gamble called “One Outs”. After convincing him to join Lycaons, Tokuchi has slowly and miraculously transformed one of the weakest team around into a title contender. Will Kojima finally be able to fulfill his lifelong wish and lead his team to glory?
One Outs is not your typical sports manga. Created by Kaitani Shinobu (author of Liar Game), One Outs doesn’t gloss itself with pompous values such as teamwork, sportsmanship, hard work, determination or friendship. Tossing all naivety aside, it portrays the baseball game as a place where the victor walks over the fallen and the winner takes all. To win, you must deceive, cheat, and manipulate your adversaries, even your very own team mates. What makes One Outs truly unique is that it is all about trickery and mind games… in baseball.
The centerpiece of this manga is undoubtedly Tokuchi Toua. He is probably one of the slickest and most badass characters in town. He is a 134-kmph pitcher who can only throw straight balls. Laughable in professional baseball’s standard. However, Tokuchi is the ultimate trickster. Behind his arrogant and nonchalant demeanor, lies the ability to read everyone like a book. He deceives and manipulates everyone to dance around at his whim. Once Tokuchi catches hold of his opponent’s weaknesses, he will exploit them ruthlessly and utterly destroy the very core of their spirit, all the while mocking at their foolishness. Whatever you throw at him, be it true skill, cheating or foul play, he will always be able to counter it with an ingenious strategy. All is fair game and only the winner defines what justice is.
The other characters are pretty much forgettable and have little role to play. Seriously. One Outs is a one-man showpiece, letting you gush at the awesomeness of the protagonist. But that isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. Once you get into the story, Tokuchi works his charm and keeps you guessing his next move. The biggest disappointment is probably Kojima, since he is supposedly the heart and soul of the Lycaons team. Excusing the injury he suffered at the start of the story, he hardly makes any impact on the outcome of the matches.
The story itself is full of intrigue. The One Outs contract that Tokuchi signed with Lycaons sets the stage for the high stakes gamble between him and the owner. The owner, being the despicable money-grubbing bad guy, will resort to any means possible to destroy Tokuchi and win the bet. Throughout the Lycaon’s quest for the championship, Tokuchi is pitted against all kinds of opponents: from the fastest base runner, a genius batter with unrivalled in-motion vision, a master tactician, an expert cheating team and even sabotage by his own team mates. This is where the story draws you in. Cliffhangers and suspense are aplenty. You know Tokuchi is gonna kick everyone’s butt but you just have no idea how. And he’s never going to reveal it until the very end. The strategies and schemes used are brilliant, and the execution by Tokuchi is near flawless. Be it the weather, the pitch, the people, or the game rules. He will find a way to bend them to his advantage.
Some people who watched the anime might complain that the story only revolves around the One Outs contract, making the matches pointless. However, Tokuchi has planned far ahead and everything he does has a far-reaching influence. The anime only covers the first half of the manga. Without spoiling too much, I can tell you that the third quarter is about a revised One Outs contract and the rest deviates from the contract completely. There is much more character development at the later stages, when Tokuchi tries to change the loser mentality of the Lycaons team and improve the team in his own unique way.
I do find the final stages of the story slightly lackluster. Even though it is nice to see another side of Tokuchi, trying to honor his promise with Kojima, it fails to build up the tension and reach a really climatic ending. I suppose it’s the result of the epic battles that were crafted out earlier, that the final showdown pales in comparison. In my opinion, this is what keeps One Outs from being a true masterpiece.
The artwork is nothing spectacular, but does its job and is fairly decent. I especially like how the mangaka draws the expressions of the characters. The drawing is believable and makes the comedic moments hit the mark perfectly when they occur, albeit occasionally. I have no complaints.
One Outs is a really fun read, especially if you like baseball and something intelligent. I never watch baseball games and barely know any rules. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it immensely. I don’t think I need to remind you again but Tokuchi really kicks ass!
Honesty, this is the best manga I have read so far. The storyline was brilliant, and Tokuchi is simply outstanding. His hair and personality kind of remind me of Hiruma. Although I do not really like sports or stuff like that, I found this to be so much fun, mosty because sports was not the main focus. Needless to say, once I started reading, I simply could not let go of it. Things that Tokuchi did, the way he played other people around his little finger, his personality and the brains to make any situation go in his favour left me with a wide ear-to-ear grin after every single chapter. So, if you are into genious midegames, this is a must. Watching other people underestimate him and then getting served made me so dorkishly happy. This manga was very enjoyable, not because of the storyline (do not take me wrong, it is awesome), but mainly because Tokuchi is a type of guy you simply love and can not imagine losing. He has this cool air around him and it is impossible to shake him up or outsmart him. He calls himself a first rate gambler, but is it really gambling if you already know you are going to win?read more
More than a sports manga with funny, action packed moments it deals a lot with the psychology & physical pressures of professional athletes in Baseball and shows a behind the scene look at sports corruption and politics. The main character Toa Tokuchi is a cool, calm, calculating gambling demon who will not hesitate to do what he has set out to do. Toa Tokuchi is the life & soul of this series and he is also a very distinguishable character in manga/anime history.
Warning: I am not a very good. . . reviewer? So, uhh, beware. *flicks booger at screen.*
*Gintoki comes along and highfives me.*
*shot for bad Gintama reference.*
Alright, to be blunt, i'm not a sports person. I'm not even athletic, and i have the stamina of a dying cat that is being weighed down by fifty pounds. i dont even like sports. However, i am easily persuaded by manga- for instance, after One Outs, i liked baseball. After Kurogane, i liked kendo. After Kuroko no Basuke, i liked basketball. After Eyeshield 21 and Prince of Tennis. . . well you get it.
So now that you know that. . . let's begin ~
To start us off, here's a quote that pretty much, in my opinion, sums up One Outs leaving out any details.
"A small possibility/chance doesn't mean zero percent."
The story is perfect. It's pretty much what motivated me to even read One Outs- and finish it. It's kind of like a slice-of-life sports manga about a smart guy, to be extremely general. To be more specific, it's about a guy who's recruited for the Lycaons in an odd way and turns out to be extremely good for the team, even though his physical talent is pretty average. In each seperate arc where a new problem or challenge arises, his mental ability is brought out in a way that shocks the reader and makes you go, "So thats what it was?!!?!" and "How did i not realize that. . . " This manga isn't just about some guy who has some inhuman strength who's super amazing, it's a lot more then that. As I said, I pretty much stayed not for the sport, definitely not for the art, not even for the characters, but for the mystery and plot. A definite ten out of ten.
Now the art. . . . at the end of every chapter, the art made me want to quit One Outs. However, nearly immediately afterwards, I would think, "But I really do want to know what's going on. . . Alright, I can do this! Force myself, Uh Huh! *imitates Kagura and is immediately shot again*
Annyyyhow. . .
To be blunt, it was terrible. I hated the art. Sometimes, even when the art is bad, I just get use to it. Although the art did get better a bit, I don't think I'll ever like it. I know that this manga is considerably old, but even so. . . I'm sure some people in this world don't mind the art for this series, but it just makes my eyes burn. While the art is fairly realistic and brings out all the necessary emotions, I guess, frankly, it's not my thing and thus get's a four out of ten from me.
The character development was fairly nice, although there are still things to be questioned. I really loved Toua (although, as expected, I couldn't stand how he was drawn. If it was another art style, though, I'm pretty sure I would be fan girling all over him.) and thought he was fantastic, the way he managed to motivate people by insulting them. Also, even if the Lyacon's manager is a terrible guy, I think he was created fairly okay. However, I do occasionally wonder why Toua bothers staying with the Lyacons and dealing with it's awful manager, as well as why Kojima is so. . . emotional? In addition, I think it would be better if the Lyacon members themselves were given more of a background. I'm not asking for a whole chapter for each character, maybe just a page or two so the reader could at least get a basic idea. However, some of the early opponents of the Lyacon's were introduced nicely. Seven out of ten.
If you bothered reading the beginning (and I'm hoping you did. . .) then you would've remembered I'm not a sports person. Obviously, that deducts a few points from my enjoyment grade. I mean, if you don't get all the terms used in the manga, then it's like your being left out of an inside joke, and that's just no fun, right? Well, I did eventually learn all of the baseball references, but it was a bit confusing in the beginning and when Toua explained his grand scheme, I'm just like. . .Woah, that's so awesome! So what did you do again? Plus, I couldn't stand the art. It's like I'm just taking a crapper and suddenly I spot a tiny spider on the wall. . . it's extremely bothersome, but I can't do nothing about it. Luckily, the story was fantastic, which was the one thing that stopped me from ripping out my hair and going back to my many other mangas and animes with a bald head. As for the characters, despite the lack of background (as far as i can tell. . . i mean, i want his Toua's life story, or at least a whole bunch of major key events. Call me a stalker. . . or Santa Claus. Hohoho.) I still found them interesting, so that helped alot. Even if I found them drawn horridly. I always said 2D people were better looking than 3D people. . . guess I have to take that back now. Anyway, for the enjoyment rate, I would give it an 8/10.
Now. . . .
*puts on circular glasses and a Shinpachi wig*
Look at me! I'm so smart looking, right?!