The Karugamo High School Baseball Team has not been doing well. After losing badly to the Eagles, many of the players leave, and the team now has only eight players, one too few to play a game.
Going against his principles, the main character Harumaki Shunpei decides to buy a baseball robot. However, since he does not have enough money, he ends up buying the maid robot named Azusa. Even though Azusa has a warm heart and strong determination, it doesn't appear that she stands a chance against her adversaries who were top-of-the-line baseball robots. The team's only hope seems to lie in a secret buried within Azusa's clouded past.
Nowhere but Japan would we see the combination of two of its time honored anime themes mixed with its favorite sporting pastime...Robots, Maids, and Baseball! They go together like ice cream and apple pie! Wait...maids and baseball?!?!
Everything I know about baseball can be summed up in what little I understood of the rules from this anime and the parts of the Houston Astros game I attended once that I did not sleep through. So you can say I am not a huge fan, but this anime had Mamiko Noto! Of course I am going to watch!
The premise of Azusa revolves around
a high school baseball club who loses a member reducing the clubs total to only eight, and since you need nine to play baseball this puts the club in a pinch. The story is set about a hundred years in the future and robots; particularly in sports are fairly common. To keep their club alive they set out to by a sports robot to fill in their final roster spot. However all they can afford is an outdated but very moe maid robot. (Really you expected less than total moe-ness from a Mamiko character and a maid!?) Of course she is horrible at baseball and with an impending tournament the club leaves for a training camp in with all of them, including Azusa find hidden talents within them all.
It’s not terribly original and the story and its conclusion are predictable and formulaic. But it was a lot of fun to watch, even for me a non-baseball fan. Nothing in the show will amaze anyone but it has a number of laughs and heartwarming conclusion despite its short length. I can’t comment much on the actual baseball action, since my knowledge is limited but it seemed to be fairly realistic and not overly corny. Despite the themes of the show, one might expect the potential for a lot of fan service but there is very little of that and is safe for all viewers.
None of the characters have all that much substance. They pretty much all live up to the standard stereotypes expected of them. Regardless of their lack of depth, I found them to be a solid group. Azusa, as expected shines the most due to Mamiko Noto's performance. You really have a dried up husk for a heart if you can’t like her just a little bit. It’s a bit of a shame that this series wasn’t longer because I thought her past and abilities could have been a lot more interesting had this been a few episodes longer.
As I mentioned, the only reason I even started this was because of the presence of Noto in the cast. I am her biggest fan and she plays her roll to perfection. She even gets a chance to break out of her meek maid stereotype once which I found especially amusing. The art and animation is pretty ordinary and typical of what you expect nowadays. Solid but unspectacular overall.
Azusa, Otetsudai Shimasu will appeal to sports anime fans and baseball lovers. Though I think it was entertaining enough to attract others who don’t necessarily watch them too. If you love your robotic maids with a wicked fastball moe on the side, then you won’t be disappointed with this.
I seem to seperate myself from most of the anime-watching crowd in that I actually prefer shorter animes. In a TV series, the object is generally to pad the length as much as possible in order to cut costs but maintain viewership. In short OVAs, however, little time is available, and so every minute usually will contribute to the overall experience (as opposed to bloated series like Naruto or Hikaru no Go).
Another large perk of short animes is well illustrated by Azusa Will Help!: if the anime sucks, it doesnt waste too much of your time. The OVA is decidedly below average, with a weak
storyline, generic characters, and only a handful of laughs, but its 40 minute runtime prevented me from hating it passionately.
Still, even if the show is a relatively small waste of time, its still a waste of time. The one or two good jokes in the entire OVA are largely cancelled out by the tedious and trite maid shit that dominates the running length. An attempt is made to dilute the cliche by combining the maid parts with elements from sports anime, but mixing together two hackneyed story devices seldom produces something original, and this is no exception.
The story doesnt really make a whole lot of sense from a logical perspective, either. In the anime, we are told that anatomically correct androids are no longer being made due to the apparent sexual consequences that inevitably result. This leads to the question of how the protagonist manages to purchase one of the older, fully fleshed out robots for so cheap. If sexdroids were in fact banned from production, there is no doubt in my mind that rabid, undersexed otaku would soon make the remaining ones nearly priceless. Also, the very idea that androids would be used to play baseball at all is preposterous. The whole point of athletic sports is to engage in fun, competitive excercise, and having a robot do that for you is just stupid. I think the concept is somewhat similar to getting a robot to jog for you every morning.
Decidedly below average, especially considering the shows age and length. Very little money went into making this anime, and it shows with jerky animation, generic character designs and lame action scenes.
Voice acting is definitely on the stale side (although Ill grant that there isnt much ANYONE could do in these godawful roles), and music is weak and unmemorable.
An odd note is that Noto Mamiko is in this one, presumably before her career took off and she earned the luxury of not having to participate in this kind of degrading material. She does what she can with her role, but even Mamikos succulent, oh-so-good-to-hear-it voice isnt enough to save a cardboard character with some absolutely idiotic dialogue.
Unlikeable and dull - pretty much characteristic of what I would expect from a 40 minute maid show. I could write more, but then Id be spending more time talking about the characters than the studio spent actually creating and developing them.
Basically, Azuza does just about what every maid show before it has done: weak-ass comedy. The lackluster plot and characters combine with the decidedly mediocre animation and sound, and one is left with an unusually disappointing overall package. Im just happy the anime cant waste any more of my time than it already has.
If youre one of the thousands of people who actually enjoy maid shows on a consistent basis, then by all means knock yourself out; theres enough tribute to the tired genre to please most of the diehards. However, if youre not a dedicated fan of the genre, then know that this brings nothing new to the table.
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!