Baseball seems to be one of those sports where you either enjoy it like the most exciting thing in the world or finds it as boring as watching paint dry. I’ll be honest here, Battery can give off a similar feel. And it’s not just about what the show is but rather what the storytelling can really tell about itself.
First of all, the show focuses on a guy named Takumi Harada. He’s a 6th grader with a prestigious talent in pitching and had to transfer to a new school in the countryside because of his brother’s sickness. No problem right? In fact, Takumi sees this more as an opportunity to make his skills even more well-known to the new community. Reality kicks in hard and he realizes that his new teammates doesn’t really acknowledge his new talent. However, there is one guy named Go Nagakura who does admire him and wants to form a partnership as a way to demonstrate both of their talents. The show tells of their story in this small town and I have to be honest, it’s not the usual type of sports series you’ll expect.
Based off of the novel by Atsuko Asano, Battery embraces its cast of characters rather than the storytelling. Expecting a lot of baseball games or a tournament to chronicle their journey? Look elsewhere. With that being said, Battery shines the most when it focuses on characterization. First, there’s Takumi, the protagonist although some may see more as a form of anti-hero. After all, the guy is narcissistic and often focuses on himself rather than on others. The first few episodes establishes him as someone who wants to show off his talent without working cooperatively with his teammates. He cares more about baseball than anything else, even more at times than his own family as evidenced by some of the conversations with his mother. As such, Takumi doesn’t earn the respect of most of the team and pays hard for it later. It’s mostly his attitude that causes his teammates and even his coach to dislike him. Because in Takumi’s mind, baseball is a lot about winning than having fun.
On the other hand, Go Nagakura is an interesting anti-thesis of Takumi. Unlike him, he wants to cooperate with others as a catcher. In addition, Go is mostly obedient towards others and doesn’t act like a brat. While Takumi isn’t necessarily childish, his antics of showing off doesn’t please his teammates. He has the sort of ego that can really influence a game outcome as baseball isn’t a game about just one person. It’s about the whole team and literally impossible for a single person to carry it.
You can expect by now that character relationships is a main dynamic in the show. Takumi’s relationships with the majority of the characters has a rocky start. These include Go, his family (mother and grandfather), and even to his extend his own brother. Although there are times when Takumi shows a softer side, the majority of the show depicts him as a narcissist. Because of that, Takumi’s position on the team lands him enemies such as vice president Eiji Nobunishi. It’s also worth remembering that Takumi is the new kid in town so he hardly has any friends so it’s easy for others to gang up and bully him. The only savior that comes to help him is Go but their relationship isn’t exactly the best of friends either. It gets more complex than that actually as Eiji is jealous of Takumi for his accomplishments. And you know these days, youths like him would like to use fists to do their talking. So in essence, Takumi’s personality become his own weakness while his strength lies in his raw talent. However, is it really his strength? Even the school boards seems to side with the other teammates than himself and Go can’t stand his personality either. The relationship between him and Go gets fairly complex as it often shifts trust and distrust. In retrospect, you should expect a lot of character drama from Battery. And it doesn’t subside either when rivals enter the story from another school later on.
So yes, the main course of Battery is pretty much a drama. It’s more of a character drama as by the pacing, there isn’t much baseball games going around. In fact, an actual exhibition match takes place around mid-season, after almost 6 episodes. As a 1-cour show (the standard Noitamina 11/22 length), there’s definitely some concern about the pacing. Furthermore, I think the show puts an overwhelming amount of time into Takumi’s personality. It’s like the show continuously builds up about his skills more and more, to a point where viewers will find it about as irritating as his teammates. To me, that can be quite nerve wrecking.
Animated by Zero-G, the show is pretty good at conveying its realism. The setting is atmospheric especially with its countryside feel. However, I do have to say that some of the characters are misrepresented by their designs. They look older than middle schoolers. Still, the show’s visual quality is acceptable although not overly impressive either.
It’s interesting to note that soundtrack plays a minor factor because of the lack of OST during the majority of the show. That type of quietness further enhances the realism feel though. The OP and ED theme songs are smooth with a harmonious rhythm. However, it’s the character voice mannerism that really stands out. Takumi’s voice really makes him sound like a brat, the type you can’t stand if you’re near him. His personality is portrayed pretty well if you just hear him talk for even less than 30 seconds. Other characters are less noticeable with their voices except for their more dramatic moments.
Battery is the type of show that will test your patience. My initial expectation of the show is more of a mixture between baseball games and realistic drama. However, it’s easily recognizable that the show is more about character drama than a baseball tournament. There are actually games being played but that isn’t the main emphasis. This isn’t Ace of Diamond.