Hatogaya, a man who used to love baseball and gave up on it, gets set up to take the fall for his company and gets sent to prison. A high school principal and his former coach, who's school is about to lose its baseball program bails Hatogaya out, but in exchange for getting him out of jail, he has to coach the school's "not-so-great" baseball team.
Intro: Not your usual sports manga. If you only like unrealistic sports manga or anime, this is not for you. Last Inning is very realistic and uses more of the psychology and the strategy of the game than the game itself. That is what I most enjoy about it. Here goes my first review. This review is only after reading 101 chapters.
The story is simple in terms of what we can expect from it. I mean, the objective is pretty clear and we know where it can go. A team trying to reach the Koshien. If the team doesn't reach, it's going to be disbanded.
Of course this is a simple resume of what the story really brings, but we can sum it up like this. What I like about this manga is the way they portray the game and the way that they show what the players and coaches think during the game, the mental, strategic part of the game. It goes deep in the minds of players and coaches. It treats each player’s personality and exposes them in the game and how that itself can affect it. The players skills set are similar to what a real high school baseball player can do. They are flawed, they are learning and not perfect yet.
I like the art, not the best I’ve seen, of course, but it is enjoyable and we can see the characteristics of each character pretty easy. I don't like some expressions they make though, like when they are angry and stuff like that, the mouth looks a bit ugly in my opinion.
They are mostly simple characters with their own personality. Hatogaya divides them by "categories". The coach is a smart one with a good perspective of the game, and is good at analyzing personalities. At first, I thought he was going to be one of those unbeatable geniuses that we see every once in a while in a sports manga (Tokuchi comes to mind). Glad I was wrong. He also shows signs of emotions and doubts throughout the game. He fails at times, he is surpassed at times. The players are simple minded, well, at least most of them. They are well portrayed if you look at it realistically. Hatogaya has pretty interesting enemies, like St Mary's coach. It is an evolving curve. It still doesn’t have that deep character development or the evolution of some characters, but it is still a long way. The manga has a long way to go and isn’t even in the main part yet.
I really like realistic sports manga. The psychological part of the game and the way the game is portrayed captivated me and makes me enjoy this manga. A good read in my opinion. I like the pace; I think it’s just right as where I am right now.
This is my first review like I said. Going to get better and use better words to describe what I read. English isn’t my first language either, so there are maybe some mistakes.
It may be just me, but this manga seems underrated, although it is quite a deep manga. It plays side focus to realistic problems such as umpire bias, underground dealings, loopholes in baseball tournament rules, parent intervention and so on in highschool baseball.
But to be honest, I have no real knowledge in baseball, so I have next to no idea what strikeouts, bases fully loaded, squeezes and so on mean. Yet I read to chapter 172 of Last Inning, why?
Honestly, personally, I like to read manga and watch anime for a few reasons, and this is under educational entertainment. Why is it educational? I
do not understand most of the terms no matter what cos this manga goes through little definitions of baseball terms. Yet it is exciting. I learnt that baseball does not have to be a simple case of strong and able bodies and raw skill proficiency. Rather, a lot of times, luck, strategy, personal circumstances, external factors as well as the reactions to them, and of course flexibility is essential to win in baseball games.
The story is interesting even if I've read Giant Killing, which the introduction is kinda similar. A new coach comes back to his alma mater's club (in which he has played before, and featured in a national league before), brings the team to get its former glory through unorthodox training, struggling with fans or parents etc..
The story is actually quite good as we can see that even if things seem to be progressing smoothly at times, external incidents can potentially wreck the progress gained. And what's more interesting is how different characters settle them and the progression of the feelings of each character towards the club.
I cannot comment on how realistic the baseball plays are due to having little knowledge of baseball.
It's amazing how some art are worth looking at independently. Sometimes there's just so much detail on the background or characters' expressions that I could tell exactly what the mangaka is trying to portray.
One slight disadvantage is due to the presence of a lot of characters, many characters look similar to each other. Furthermore, the main distinguishing factor between clubs comes to just the letters or words on their caps and uniforms.
For some characters, I could see development and gradual maturity. And normally, it's quite logical given the events that changed them. Skills-wise, I think the flashbacks during the tournaments to their training times is quite good as they explained exactly the purpose each training exercise helped the players with.
The characters have quite diverse personalities so it is easy to tell the main few players apart well. However, some less-important characters in the main club were not featured well, to the extent that I do not even remember some of them when a club roster was featured in a chapter. This is due to less panels featuring the less-important players in the club.
There's an inexplicable joy in reading this manga, as it features psychology on many aspects. It features suspense over whether the club will win, over the settlement of various problems. Yes, one issue is the oversimplification of solutions used to solve some problems, but the manga features many deep concepts and psychology traits to excite the mind.
The fact that I could read to 172 with no official baseball knowledge proves that.
This manga has huge potential as there could be many branches off each problem featured as well as the individual growth of each character in the manga, including the players. On another aspect, due to the focus on the "workings of the society", you might even apply what is learnt here on real life.
Giant Killing is largely similar on its general premise, regarding a former player becoming the coach, aiming to restore former glory to his club through national tournaments.