Apr 7, 2021
Original-ban is the first movie of the Nine trilogy, based on the manga with the same name penned by Adachi Mitsuru (well known for Touch and Cross Road), it's a baseball romance story set in high school. It aired in cinemas in 1983, 4 months after it was shown on TV in a special format, this one here is in wide screen in a higher quality with the same content as the TV special.
The story is very easy and simple to follow, our main character Niimi Katsuya joins the baseball club with his friend Karasawa, their goal is to have fun playing baseball and maybe
even go to Koushien, along the way they encounter love problems like any other teenagers, Katsuya loves this cute girl who's the baseball team manager Nakao Yuri but of course something will get in their way.
I wouldn't say it's your regular sports drama, baseball plays a secondary role in the anime, you don't have to know the rules and the games aren't as technical as shown in other anime like Major or even Touch, you only need to understand who's winning and who's losing. The baseball club is just the setting where the characters connect, our folks aren't that crazy about the sport. It looks like a coming of age story for Katsuya specifically but other boys get some development too.
I'd say this movie is mediocre, lots of stuff happen in the first half, introductions and settings and explanations, it's kinda fast paced but not over the place, keep in mind that Katsuya didn't play baseball before this and then quickly becomes a regular. Though he's not the ace of the team, he's just an out fielder and he enjoys it. We get some personal and somewhat emotional scenes about Yuri, Kurahashi and Karasawa in order to understand their relationship with baseball, it looked cliched and forced for me but I watched lots of romance shows, it was totally watchable and not annoying, at least it was very direct and conclusive.
What made me to continue watching was the atmosphere and the romance, the anime lets the viewers spend time with our characters, they don't train or play baseball matches all the time and that's a good thing. The boys just want to live their youth, there are some scenes where they just hang out and talk, usual slice of life elements.
The romance is complicated and it would have been easily resolved if all the characters would have been direct and confess their true feelings but no anime does that. To be fair, you may argue that Yuri is shy and her crush must remain a mystery till a given time, Katsuya is also shy and afraid of rejection, that's why he accepts to spend time with Yukimi (a girl who likes him), you can basically find excuses for everything.
At least the show knows how to set a mood, the music here is superb, when there's a melancholic scene, they add a nice piece to make the viewer more melancholic, a romantic scene will have the best romance song of that era and will make the moment look and feel 10 times better, a lover of 80s music will definitely approve of it.
The art style is not that impressive, the characters look very plain and simple drawn, it's the same as any other Adachi manga/anime. The backgrounds aren't special either, from a visual point of view it's just not that good compared to other 80s movies or OVAs. The animation is lacking, there are many shots with little to no movement and the baseball scenes don't leave an impact.
I would like to leave the character section blank because there isn't much to add about them but I'll use this opportunity to talk about other romance anime from the 80s to prove a point.
- Urusei Yatsura - main guy is the most perverted guy on Earth and the biggest idiot, main girl is a hot alien
- Kimagure Orange Road - main guy has ESP, main girl is a tough cookie hard to understand and feisty
- Kabocha Wine - main guy is short and funny, main girl is tall
- Touch - main characters are twins (one is a perfect athlete, one is a bum), main girl is the perfect childhood friend
Now compared to them, you see how our Nine characters have nothing to offer, there's so down to earth it's annoying, for a show with romance, the characters are nothing special, nothing extreme or eccentric. Katsuya doesn't want to be the best, Yuri doesn't talk as much. Yukimi (high school athlete girl) is fun to watch though, she has a bubbly personality and she's very true to her feelings, I like her but many would hate her because she gets in the way of Yuri and Katsuya and she's overbearing. Yamanaka (the guy who likes Yuri) is that macho star of the anime, the ace of Bunan High School and Katsuya's rival sorta. They aren't boring per se but the anime is missing some spice in regards to the characters, I enjoyed it nonetheless but the potential viewer should expect nothing fancy.
Overall, it's a decent lighthearted show, not the best from that era but if you wanna lay down and chill, this one is for you, the drama is not even that exaggerated and it's very easy to follow. If you wanna finish the plot, you will have to watch the sequels. All in all, it's a show about the romantic mishaps of the Seishu Baseball Club.
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