Ren Mihashi was the ace of his middle school's baseball team, but due to his poor pitching, they could never win. Constant losses eventually lead to his teammates bullying him and reached the point where his teammates no longer tried to win, causing Mihashi to graduate with little self-esteem. As a result, Mihashi decides to go to a high school in a different prefecture where he has no intention of playing baseball. Unfortunately, upon his arrival at Nishiura High, he is dragged into joining their new team as the starting pitcher.
Although unwilling at first, Mihashi realizes that this is a place where he will be accepted for who he is; with help from the catcher Takaya Abe, he starts to have more confidence in his own abilities. Abe, seeing the potential in Mihashi, makes it a goal to help him become a pitcher worthy of being called an ace.
It's been almost a week since I finished Oofuri and it still lingering in my brain. Honestly, I just decided to try because a lot of my favorite seiyuus were in the cast (Fukuyama Jun, Nakamura Yuuichi, Shimono Hiro amongst others). I really wasn't expecting anything awesome but boy was I surprised.
I'm not one to enjoy sports anime much but the beginning of Oofuri was pretty slice-of-life-ish and by the time we got to the actual baseball I loved the characters too much to stop watching. The story is about Mihashi Ren, a first-year whose self-esteem was completely destroyed by the members of
his junior-high baseball team. He ends up being "forced" to join the baseball team in highschool and from there starts regaining his confidence.
I have to say that I'm really happy with the animation in this anime. I've never heard of the studio but they really did a good job. Since this was a sports anime I was expecting for surreal effects during the matches but I'm glad I was wrong. Makes me happy how realistic the whole thing was. At first, some of the characters were pretty hard to distinguish but as the show goes on it becomes much easier to tell them apart because of their different personalities. Of course, Mihashi isn't very hard to recognize with how he's always blushing and making chicken faces.
Sadly, I didn't have the opportunity to properly listen to the music but since it didn't strike me that must mean it was horrible to say the least. (I'm still hooked on the second ED "Arigatou" by SunSet Swish, though)
I guess an important element in anime like Oofuri is the characters. Though at first (I'll bet this has been said over 1000000 times) Mihashi can be VERY VERY annoying, as the series goes on you slowly find yourself thinking he's the cutest thing ever. When the self-esteem problem is (more or less) gone, Mihashi's just a really strange kid with strange mannerisms. Hard to hate someone with such cute chicken faces. Even the rest of characters, including the ones in opposing teams, were easy to love. With that kind of cast it's impossible to not like anyone. Personally, I loved all of them tho'.
The best thing about Oofuri is that even if you don't give a crap about baseball you STILL enjoy it. Hell, by the end you might even like baseball (I know I do). Part of the reason is probably the slice-of-life start which gives you time to enjoy the show before getting into the serious matches. The matches themselves, though slow, put me on edge every episode. Luckily I started watching this when all the episodes were out and I didn't need to wait long to see the results. The only downside is how slow the series is (covering two matches in 25 episodes) but the matches were so tense that I barely noticed it took almost 10 episodes to finish the game. However, if your expecting fast-paced baseball action look somewhere else. If your like me and watch an entire series straight without rest then your bound to be a little unsatisfied at the end. I, at least, was sulking and taking it out on friends how I needed "MOAR OOFURI!" ... but once you get pass that you'll think back on the anime and say "Man was that a great anime" (I'm still saying it even one week later) ... Hopefully we'll get another season one day.
Being a yaoi fangirl, part of the reason I started this reason was because I kept on hearing about it from other BL fans. Really, you don't need an eye for slash to see the homo undertones in this anime. If you know about a certain scene in episode three then you know what I'm talking about. The slash is quiet so it won't bother anyone who doesn't like BL (which I am guessing is a good thing)
Despite being anime I wasn't expecting much from, Oofuri has ended in my favorite list. I don't know what to hate about this anime because there's everything to love. The tension after every episode makes up for the its slow pace and since Mihashi become a loveable little chicken I'll let the fact that he was annoying at first past. I highly recommend this anime. Really.
I will admit that this show pretty much came out of nowhere for me. I was just surfing Nico Nico Douga and just happened to find an episode uploaded, 3 to be exact, and watched it out of pure curiosity. I happened to wind up watching the most famous scene in Ookiku Furikabutte, which is something you should see for yourself. Needless to say, I unintentionally laughed hard. I also mistook Mihashi for a girl because of his demeanor and voice. I actually started to pick up this show because I thought it would be a train wreck, and everyone
loves to look, and maybe laugh, at train wrecks. Boy is my face red now. Ookiku Furikabutte turned out to be my surprise hit of the 2007 spring anime season, and one of my favorite anime from last year.
Story - The story focuses on Ren Mihashi, a young man with such low self-esteem he makes Shinji Ikari look like Kenshiro, him joining the Nishiura baseball team as their pitcher, and his development as a person. The story also focuses on the newly formed and inexperienced Nishiura team members and their development into a true team as the show goes on. The story is simple enough that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out, but also entertaining enough to keep people glued to the screen.
Art - The animation quality is pretty good. The art was done by a relatively new animation studio called A-1 Pictures Inc. , and I have to say they did a good job. They animated it without any noticeable screw ups and the art style is very pleasing and cute. They even added the tiny details to distinguish characters because it can be, quite honestly, hard to keep track of who's who in the show when you first begin because the character design is a bit on the plain side.
Sound - The music is pretty good. The beginning 13 episodes of the show, with its more slice of life-ish tone, has calm music that fits the mood. The second half, which is more focused on the baseball, has suspenseful music and the cheer squad's songs are also very good and references some theme songs in anime, like the Lupin the Third theme or the Battle Ship Yamato theme. The voice actors did a fine job voicing the cast and truly brought the characters to life, especially Tsubasa Yonaga (VA for Mihashi). Yonaga has the perfect voice for Mihashi. Whether it's Mihashi's cry baby side, his nervous side, or his confident side, Yonaga manages to potray Mihashi masterfully.
Character - This is the real heart of Ookiku Furikabutte. The characters are some of the best developed I've seen in anime. By the end of the show, I felt like I had a sort of bond between each character, including the opposing teams. It's really something when you root for both Nishiura and the rival team to win, even if there can only be one victor. Obviously, the biggest character development occurs in Mihashi. At first, you may hate him (Read: 90% chance of hating his guts) for his crybaby and no self esteem attitude, even if he does explain why he is like that. But as the show goes on you see changes, big and small, in his character and then he truly becomes a lovable dope. Also, we can't forgot the other characters. From the well endowed Momoe, the coach of Nishiura with the amazing power to crush pomelos with her bare hands and be devilishly sly, to Abe, the catcher with a chip on his back,the wiles of a weasel, and nothing to lose; to Tajima, the vocal lovable clean up hitter and a genius in baseball but not much else. You will find someone you like in this anime. I 99.99999% guarantee it. Another charm is that no one character in Nishiura is overpowered. Mihashi has pretty much godly control of his pitches but they are painfully slow. Tajima may also be a clean up hitter, but his stature prevents him from batting home runs. All the members of Nishiura pretty much have to work together to win games and it shows.
Enjoyment - Ookiku Furikabutte is really just a fun watch. The first half charmed me with its slice of life comedy elements. The second half kept me on the edge of my seat at every minute because despite the team having an excellent bond with each other, they're still just normal players, especially considering the fact that they're a new team and only consists of first year high school students, while the rival team is an experienced team you wouldn't want to go up with, especially in the first round. Also for baseball fans, Higuchi Asa, the author of the manga, pretty much did her homework in Baseball 101 and Sports Psychology. This is one of the most realistic baseball anime series you will see. Even for those who don't know jack squat about baseball, like me, will be able to understand the baseball terms considering that they explain quite well. Heck, you might even be motivated by this anime to try out baseball.
Cons - For starters, most of you will be put off by beginning Mihashi at the get go. I know I was. He might irritate the living beejesus out of you, but he does get much better later on. Heck, he even became one of my favorite characters in the show by the end. Another thing is that the show is slow paced. If you're looking for fast paced action, the action anime section is about two floors up from here. Even for a sports show, it's slow. The slowness helps in the development of the characters though. Also, if you happen to hate every character in the show, which is very very unlikely, you will hate it.
+ Smooth animation
+ Good music
+ Endearing characters
+ A simple yet effective story
+ Quite funny at times
+ Very engaging
- Beginning Mihashi
- The slow pacing may bore you
Overall, a true hidden ace from the Spring 2007 anime season. Make sure to watch it! The subs for the show are a bit slow, but Central Anime is doing an OK job with it.
I've only seen 10 episodes so far as I'm writing this (edit: originally), but I couldn't hold back. I love this show.
Basically, it's a baseball anime that focuses on the battery between Abe (the jaded catcher) and Mihashi (the pitcher with absolutely NO self-confidence) and their new and inexperienced team. It seems like we're going to see the team grow over the course of the show... as well as, hopefully, Mihashi's confidence and social skills.
The art has it's ups and downs. The ups: Mihashi's exaggerated expressions and boneless postures really amuse me -- he's more of an anime muppet than an actual
human being. And the color palette of the show is gorgeous and perfectly captures the spirit of the show and the sharp brightness of spring. The downs: I'm having some trouble telling some people apart. If they were background crowd characters it would be fine, but some of the people are on Mihashi's team, which can be confusing.
I normally don't spend a lot of time paying attention to the songs during the credits: here, I have to say that I actively hate the song at the end credits. Hearing the first line makes me cringe and I always skip to the next chapter immediately. That's probably just my own taste though.
On the other hand, I can't say enough good things about the character of Mihashi and the actor who voices him. Despite the fact that Mihashi cries and stutters and collapses more often than anyone should or could, he's somehow still sweet enough and endearing enough to make me really root for him. To be honest, I have no idea why I don't find him too irritating to watch -- it's just the magic of the show's chemistry or something! ;)
[Edit after episode 16: Mihashi is just funny and entertaining and endearing; he's a tremendous balance of pitiful, funny, pathetic and heroic. And, on another level, the character of Mihashi is a beautifully crafted look into one kind of angst/alienation. He exemplifies how perception and experience influence new relationships in life and how context can change everything: he's the same pitcher when it comes to technique and skill in high school that he was in middle school but the difference lies in the team, in the leadership and their attitudes.]
Abe grew on me more slowly, but as his character grows so did my affection for him. He's the rigid, straight man to the pliable Mihashi. And the cast is nicely rounded out by a few colorful teammates (almost everything Tajima does makes me laugh) and the slightly frightening manager.
If you can't tell by the fact that I couldn't hold back my gushing for longer than 10 episodes, I really do enjoy this show a lot. Some people might find it slow, especially if you need an action beat every 10 minutes or so, but I think the tension and the excitement of the games more than makes up for the relaxed pace of the story. And it's so interesting to see such a cerebral perspective on baseball -- the level of strategy and awareness comes closer to the level you see in a show like Akagi (mah jong) than what you normally see in a stereotypical sports anime.
[Edit after episode 16: I am so ridiculously charmed and delighted by and enamored with this show that it completely amazes me that more people here aren't watching it. The manga won the 2007 Kodansha Manga Award, grand prize, general category. It also won the Tezuka Cultural Awards New Hope Award for for showing new possibilities of expression in baseball manga. According to Yahoo Japan, Oofuri came in #4 in a favorite anime of 2007 poll by Vsist (over 2 million people in Japan participated in the poll). And while I'm not telling you to watch it just because it's getting some acclaim in Japan, I figure those opinions might carry more weight than mine (after all, who the heck am I? ;) ) But I am saying: watch Ookiku Furikabutte because it is a damn good show. XD]
It's the polar opposite of Major (another anime about baseball) in a way -- or rather Mihashi is the polar opposite of Honda/Shigeno in personality. I think one big plus for Oofuri is that it spends more time on the fact that baseball is really a TEAM sport -- unlike Major -- and how crucial it is that everyone plays their role and supports each other and balances out each other's strengths and weaknesses.
[Edit: P.S. Interesting note? According to a manga review here on MAL, the mangaka studied sports psychology -- which totally shows in the anime.]
[Edit after episode 25: Just fyi, my opinion hasn't changed. ^.^]
this sports anime is not based on a shounen manga, but on seinen, and it shows by having far more nuance than your average shounen. so far this is my favourite feel-good anime of the year (2013 in which i am watching this). and i learned some baseball from it -- now i wish every real game i watch had a sound track with the players' and coaches' thoughts for me, *wry grin*.
it's hard for me to judge whether a person who is not interested in baseball would enjoy this show as much because i do like baseball, and in specific, i like
precisely what this show offers: detailed analysis, strategy, and tactics. Oofuri excels at that, and does it better than any other baseball anime i've seen (and i've seen a whole lot of them). but if i were to wager a guess, then i'd bet that especially viewers who normally prefer to watch shoujo would like this show despite the concentration on baseball, because while it is technical, there is also so much character interaction and development that it never becomes boring. people who normally love shounen for the braggadocio action heroism might not enjoy it as much.
the premise of the story is nothing innovative: a newly formed high school baseball team works to develop skills so they can win against other teams in a series of tournaments (ultimately leading to Koushien, because that's what high school baseball in Japan does). Oofuri then goes to prove that a talented writer can take any shop-worn premise and create solid gold from it, a finely polished gem that's unique among its peers. the pacing is very, very slow which makes the development seem really organic and realistic; the show starts with some back story and the formation of the team, and we don't get to see any games until later. there is no filler here, every episode plays a role. overall the theme is predictable, but since everything that matters lies in the details here, it is always fresh. the games are highly interesting and suspenseful, despite not featuring high-faluting shounen action and special effects.
the characters are what makes this show so appealing far beyond its baseball know-how. they're all well-defined (even if we do not get to know all of them equally well (yet)), with their own strengths and weaknesses, and with one exception they're quite realistic. the exception is Mihashi, the pitcher and main character. Mihashi is pathologically shy and insecure, but he is also used as the main comic relief for the show, and that creates a strange mixture with which i wasn't immediately comfortable. there will be people who don't care for Mihashi at all because he is so exaggeratedly pitiful. i expect a lot of epithets to be thrown at him, such as sissy, loser, pussy, wimp, wuss, weakling. listen up: those are words used by bullies and people who enable them. pathologically shy people exist. deeply insecure people exist. people whose self-esteem has taken a beating, or who never got to develop any to start with, exist. people who have been hurt so badly during their formative years that they have a hard time coping with other people, they exist. and they've usually done nothing to deserve their lot. they're not "sissies"; they have to work much harder than the average person just to face the world. watch how very hard Mihashi works for every sentence he has to squeeze out past the stuttering. nobody who works that hard is weak.
Mihashi is actually a much better pitcher than his previous team thought, and than he gives himself credit for, and he works extremely hard at that as well and is adorkably eager to please. he is just difficult to deal with for anyone who's used to the much more rough-and-tumble interaction of normal high school boys. and while his new team quickly realises that he isn't as bad a pitcher as he says he is, they are frustrated by their difficulties in communicating with him. Abe, the catcher, a somewhat gruff boy with a large chip on his shoulder, has the most problems with it. i am quite in awe of the mangaka, because by also making Mihashi the comic relief, she's given us an immediate vent for our own irritation with him. and watching how the trust grows between Mihashi and Abe, how their communication gets slowly better, how the team learns to cope, is worth every bit of that irritation.
i enjoyed the entire cast, and i want to see much, much more of them, but i intend to highlight one person in specific, the coach. coaches always get short shrift in baseball anime; they're usually portrayed as strict drill sergeants who might even be abusive (but it's ok because abuse that doesn't kill you makes you allegedly a better player, *sigh*). we don't get any insight into what good coaches actually do for players, which is, frankly, ridiculous. here we get to see a real coach -- Momoe is not abusive, and she doesn't need to humiliate anyone to "motivate" them -- because she knows sports psychology, and her deft handling of these green kids to encourage them to grow and conquer their weaknesses is a beautiful thing to watch.
the other thing i love about the characterisation is that there are no antagonists. yes, there are other teams, and other players who're rivals, and they all want to win as well, but there are no villains. we get to know those teams and players a little too, enough to make us empathise with them, feel their triumphs and sorrows. this mangaka knows that the conflict between good and good is much more nuanced and interesting than the conflict between good and evil.
if you come from shoujo, don't expect hetero romance here. there is none. not even a little. there is the requisite female manager, but she does not join the team because she has the hots for one of the boys, yay. there's loads of bromance, however, and if you have the fertile gutter mind of a fujoushi, you might love all the subtext. but the show can be watched without letting your mind delve into BL; that's what good subtext does. i'm happy that the subtext is not played for superficial jokes either.
the art is pleasant overall, the colours are bright and happy. the character design is pretty but could be a little better -- it's sometimes difficult to tell certain characters apart when they're wearing hats/helmets. but the facial expressions are wonderful (especially on Mihashi). the animation isn't top-notch, but it's smooth and makes the show feel alive. the BGM fits the show very well, OPs and EDs are jrocky fun. the voice acting is superb, especially regarding Mihashi's seiyuu Yonaga Tsubasa, who did an excellent job with a difficult character.
the only thing i don't like about this show is that it is too short, and it's not fair to blame it for that. after having just crawled through 101 episodes of Touch i wish Oofuri got those episodes instead. i'm happy that there is a second season waiting for me, albeit a short one. and after that i'll probably watch it all over again. a definite buy and recommendation to my friends.
Baseball is a much loved sport in both the USA and Japan, and to a lesser degree in other countries. But Japan knows how to glorify this fascinating sport with a whole bunch of incredibly cool baseball anime, and even a few manga. Let's take a look at baseball anime through history!