Well, I actually decided to blog about this series simply because it lands at a good time where I can actually cover it while having my good weekend rest. Ookiku Furikabutte, for the uninitiated, is a baseball anime series surrounding Mihashi, a pitcher that does not have a fastball, but an excellent control over his pitching. With his team Nishiura finally in the district competition, they were unluckily drawn against one of the top teams in the competition, Tosei. The former pitcher Junta was also the pitcher for Abe in his middle school, and was a very fast pitcher.
Firstly, a quick summary on the ending of Episode 17. Mihashi had a nice game on, striking out 7 out of the 9 pitchers in the first three innings of this game. However, with the game moving on, Tosei realized that Nishiura was not the newbie and weak team that they seemed to be. They decided to play in the field, using bunting and stealing bases to move on. With one batter already out and one runner at third base, Mihashi made an excellent take to pass the ball to Abe from a supposedly bad punt from the opposition. The match goes on, with Nishiura leading 1-0 on the fourth inning. For all who are skeptical over the baseball theme, trust me that the knowledge required for baseball is not that essential. I think that it is a good series to be followed by all who has not known about this series.
For those who have the baseball knowledge, please correct me when I make mistakes since I am but a novice baseball viewer.
With Mihashi sending the home bound runner out, everyone applauded Mihashi’s excellent play. The next batter Kawai was up. Kawai was surprised how Mihashi was calm enough as a 1st year pitcher to rush for the ball, and Abe for controlling himself from rushing out to get the ball. Mihashi continued to look at the third base runner, before pitching once for foul ball and another for Tajima to grab it for the end of the inning. Kawai wondered as it was the same the first time he batted Mihashi’s pitch and found himself hitting the bottom of the ball instead of hitting a grounder.
As Mihashi ran across to return to the benches, he tripped but Kawai caught him in time before Mihashi fell. Mihashi and Tajima said how nice Kawai was. Momoe gathered everyone and urged them to get a point. As Mihashi prepared to bat, Abe looked at him as Mihashi went into fits again. Abe initially did not want Mihashi to bat that strongly to recover energy, but with Mihashi going overly excited, he feared that it might cause a negative effect to his pitching later. Hence, he said that it was merely a joke and Mihashi was even more excited now. Tajima also explained how the body movements of Junta from the spy clips made him realize about when exactly Junta was going to pitch.
Mihashi was now on the batter, and he wondered why Abe told him not to hit hard. He made two foul balls initially, and then let a bad ball go for a 2 strike, 1 ball situation. As Junta aimed for a forkball, it did not rise up and hit Mihashi directly on the buttocks. It was a dead ball and Abe rushed out worried for Mihashi. Mihashi said he was fine but Abe screamed at him wanting to know where he was hit. Eventually, he ran for a free base. Junta thought to himself how awful it was to hit the pitcher and blamed his nervousness for causing a poor forkball pitch.
Abe was the 9th pitcher, and Momoe gave the sign for stealing a base as they could not have a pinch runner for Mihashi who was hit on the buttocks (ineligible for getting someone else to run for him). Abe noticed the grounds in front of him, as Tajima’s rush and Mihashi’s rush along with the wet ground causing a little trench. Abe first made a pose for a bunt and suddenly seemed to go for a straight hit before hitting a bunt right where the wet center grounds are as Abe hit first base, and Mihashi to third.
The coach of Tosei was contemplating about the lack of knowledge over the batting style of Nishiura. He then analyzed Izumi, the first batter who was 2 out of 2 hitting. He knew that Momoe wanted to get at least a point from this and he wanted to injure Mihashi through a knock when Mihashi did run back into home base. He was sure that there were no pitchers as good as Mihashi within the team. Izumi got to the bat and was struck first with a very fastball (130 km/h), a cutter (?), a bad ball before striking out Izumi with a fast ball.
Sakaeguchi was next on the plate as he looked on to Mihashi who was shocked at the “stare” of Sakaeguchi. Sakaeguchi then smiled happily to relax Mihashi’s nerves, and Nishihiro knocked Mihashi out from his dreams. Mihashi then remembered how he was doing the same thing to the third base runner when he was pitching. Sakaeguchi remembered how he relaxed using the methods learned in pre-season camp, and finally found himself relaxing. The coach of Tosei then ordered for a squeeze as Junta threw two bad balls, with Sakaeguchi not responding.
The coach of Tosei then changed his tactics, ordering for a slider as it is a strike. He thought that Chiyo had given instructions for Sakaeguchi to hold so as to get all bases filled (all 1,2,3 having runners) or to prevent Mihashi from running back and risking an injury. Having all bases filled will prevent a double out and also reduced the chances of Mihashi getting injured. Hence, he gave instructions for Kawai and Junta to pitch normally and not go for a squeeze. A strike occured as Chiyo took a risk of going for a run and hit.
Sakaeguchi realized that he had to hit the ball as Mihashi was going to run back. As Junta threw, he was shocked at Tajima’s instructions for Mihashi to run back to base as he threw a bad ball. Nevertheless, Sakaeguchi jumped out to hit the ball as Mihashi ran back safely for the second point. With that, Mihashi’s cousin was pleasantly surprised at how Mihashi’s team was actually leading the match.
I am personally rather surprised at how Mihashi was quite a decent hitter in this episode, considering how he was never really that good in the first round of batting. Nevertheless, a calm Mihashi with the amount of training and preparation can also be an effective hitter. I am still surprised the whole change of Mihashi for this episode, even though there are clear signs that our nervous and insecure pitcher is well the same as ever in character.
It is also quite queer how things are going overly fine in the plans, but I found that Tosei is somewhat looking down on Nishiura, and I felt that it is a huge mistake to be underestimating any team, no matter whether they are a new or old team. The first four innings in this match reeks of an experienced good team playing too complacently and thinking that some things happen because they are a bit too slack rather than giving the other team credit. One clear sign is the plan of Tosei’s coach way too careless with his tactics, even though it might be useful against an average team. He is still looking down on Nishiura having any effective plan.
The last scene where Mihashi won a point after running back to the base is a scene that I replayed for quite a few times. I found the whole part of Sakaguchi rushing out from his box to hit the ball into good playing ground to be really dramatic. It is also a nice touch that they have Mihashi going all sweating and rushing around like an “idiot” to get back and have a “second point” scream at the end of it to cap off a good play all around for the Nishiura team.
Oh, for those who are more baseball avid fans, what is the meaning of a squeeze. I used the term as the anime did it but I am not too sure what it really means at all. On the humor part, the dead ball situation is one of the strangely hilarious scenes for me. Abe going all worried and panicking for Mihashi is quite funny and it probably seems queer how much damage Mihashi can actually take. I mean from the previous few episodes, we had Mihashi tumbling rather horribly, rushing in to get the center punt shot that stuck in the dirt and also a huge dead ball on his buttocks. He is definitely not made of iron.
Lastly, next episode seems to be Tosei returning back to form with some good batting as the preview talked about the final inning of the game. So what is your speculation of the game? My strange feeling is that Nishiura might lose this match, since they are all first year students, with time enough to spend. Still, they probably have earned the respect of almost everyone out there in the field. What do you think?