The story is about Hyuma Hoshi, a promising young baseball pitcher who dreams of becoming a top star like his father Ittetsu Hoshi in the professional Japanese league. His father was once a 3rd baseman until he was injured in World War II and was forced to retire. The boy would join the ever popular Giants team, and soon he realized the difficulty of managing the high expectations. From the grueling training to battling the rival Mitsuru Hanagata on the Hanshin Tigers, he would have to take out his best pitching magic to step up to the challenge.
This is the one anime that every Japanese person must watch for sake of their 'common knowledge.' Although this is not very popular in the United States and other countries, due to the long history since its airing in the late 1960s, many of its aspects has become iconic for Japanese culture. Even the recent anime industry incessantly refers to this anime, such as Bakemonogatari and Doraemon. I was born in 1993, but had the opportunity to watch this when I was young as a result of my parents' recommendation, and I had never regretted once that I had watched the entire series.
The executive producer had really put a lot of effort into the plot, spanning 182 episodes. Throughout the course the story, the protagonist encounters many hardships, including academic, athletic, and family matters. He is forced to make sacrifices in order to pursue his dream to become a professional baseball player, sometimes even if it results in expressing disapproval against his own father. Eventually, he succeeds in becoming an excellent pitcher, and meets several tough batters with whom he establishes a rival relationship.
I will have to mention that back in the 1960s, there were no computers used for animation, and thus the only way to have anime was to draw EVERY SINGLE FRAME on a different piece of paper. As a reference, several minutes required about 1000 frames or drawings. Thus, one must respect the time and effort it took to produce something that is 182 episodes long. Perhaps the only complaint I have for this anime is the art style: it is simply too old for my taste.
Considering the technology that was available back in the 1960s, this is much better than average. Sound effects when sliding in a base, hitting the ball, or someone huffing and puffing, were all well done. I have nothing much else to say here.
Each character's unique attribute contributes to the overall audience's enjoyment. This can be as simple as the hair style, or something complex like having to undergo long years of intense baseball training in the woods. Each character (even the minor ones) is made sure to possess at least trait that somehow relates to another character's. Furthermore, the roles of the minor characters serve to highlight the major ones, and plot balances are well maintained.
If you've read everything so far, my review might sound like senseless babbling, but this is a result of my trying to not spoil anything. I guarantee: not spoiling anything will increase your overall satisfaction when watching this anime. As mentioned before, this is extremely popular in Japan (about 30% of the population recognize the title name), and can be attributed to the great enjoyment that this provides. Unless they detest baseball in general, people of all age groups are guaranteed to enjoy.
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!