I've only seen 10 episodes so far as I'm writing this (edit: originally), but I couldn't hold back. I love this show.
Basically, it's a baseball anime that focuses on the battery between Abe (the jaded catcher) and Mihashi (the pitcher with absolutely NO self-confidence) and their new and inexperienced team. It seems like we're going to see the team grow over the course of the show... as well as, hopefully, Mihashi's confidence and social skills.
The art has it's ups and downs. The ups: Mihashi's exaggerated expressions and boneless postures really amuse me -- he's more of an anime muppet than an actual human being. And the color palette of the show is gorgeous and perfectly captures the spirit of the show and the sharp brightness of spring. The downs: I'm having some trouble telling some people apart. If they were background crowd characters it would be fine, but some of the people are on Mihashi's team, which can be confusing.
I normally don't spend a lot of time paying attention to the songs during the credits: here, I have to say that I actively hate the song at the end credits. Hearing the first line makes me cringe and I always skip to the next chapter immediately. That's probably just my own taste though.
On the other hand, I can't say enough good things about the character of Mihashi and the actor who voices him. Despite the fact that Mihashi cries and stutters and collapses more often than anyone should or could, he's somehow still sweet enough and endearing enough to make me really root for him. To be honest, I have no idea why I don't find him too irritating to watch -- it's just the magic of the show's chemistry or something! ;)
[Edit after episode 16: Mihashi is just funny and entertaining and endearing; he's a tremendous balance of pitiful, funny, pathetic and heroic. And, on another level, the character of Mihashi is a beautifully crafted look into one kind of angst/alienation. He exemplifies how perception and experience influence new relationships in life and how context can change everything: he's the same pitcher when it comes to technique and skill in high school that he was in middle school but the difference lies in the team, in the leadership and their attitudes.]
Abe grew on me more slowly, but as his character grows so did my affection for him. He's the rigid, straight man to the pliable Mihashi. And the cast is nicely rounded out by a few colorful teammates (almost everything Tajima does makes me laugh) and the slightly frightening manager.
If you can't tell by the fact that I couldn't hold back my gushing for longer than 10 episodes, I really do enjoy this show a lot. Some people might find it slow, especially if you need an action beat every 10 minutes or so, but I think the tension and the excitement of the games more than makes up for the relaxed pace of the story. And it's so interesting to see such a cerebral perspective on baseball -- the level of strategy and awareness comes closer to the level you see in a show like Akagi (mah jong) than what you normally see in a stereotypical sports anime.
[Edit after episode 16: I am so ridiculously charmed and delighted by and enamored with this show that it completely amazes me that more people here aren't watching it. The manga won the 2007 Kodansha Manga Award, grand prize, general category. It also won the Tezuka Cultural Awards New Hope Award for for showing new possibilities of expression in baseball manga. According to Yahoo Japan, Oofuri came in #4 in a favorite anime of 2007 poll by Vsist (over 2 million people in Japan participated in the poll). And while I'm not telling you to watch it just because it's getting some acclaim in Japan, I figure those opinions might carry more weight than mine (after all, who the heck am I? ;) ) But I am saying: watch Ookiku Furikabutte because it is a damn good show. XD]
It's the polar opposite of Major (another anime about baseball) in a way -- or rather Mihashi is the polar opposite of Honda/Shigeno in personality. I think one big plus for Oofuri is that it spends more time on the fact that baseball is really a TEAM sport -- unlike Major -- and how crucial it is that everyone plays their role and supports each other and balances out each other's strengths and weaknesses.
[Edit: P.S. Interesting note? According to a manga review here on MAL, the mangaka studied sports psychology -- which totally shows in the anime.]
[Edit after episode 25: Just fyi, my opinion hasn't changed. ^.^]