I must say that anime often springs a surprise when you least expected it. I was implored by my girlfriend to watch Mouryou no Hako, despite my superficial reluctance to watch it. So that all of you know how ridiculous I can be at times, I disliked it because the cover art looks yaoi and there is no females in there. Yes, it is a very stupid reason, but that is why it took me so long to watch things at times before the sheer greatness overwhelms my silly self.
One outs, on the other hand, is a series I have been interested. A baseball series with gambling themes that does not look exactly bad in the animation category? Count me in. Yes, I have somewhat spoiled you all already that the two series are good in my opinion. Now, you can read the reasons on why they have impressed me so much.
Mouryou no Hako
A man sees a mysterious man holding a box containing the head of a female. In a freakish twist, the head is still alive. A new scene saw Yoriko Kusumoto commenting how she used to admire Kanako Yuzuki, a very beautiful student in her class. In class, Kanako struggled to answer a question about traditional Japanese music, while Yuzuki easily answered it to the surprise of the teacher. At the end of class, Kusumoto mentioned how she is simply happy to follow Yuzuki without speaking to her. They got to know each other well, and Yuzuki only talked to her in the class. One day, Yuzuki and Kusumoto spoke about spiritual deities. Yuzuki spoke of a legend where deities despite their powers would eventually rot and die.
At home, Kusumoto’s mother and her boyfriend was around, and it was clear that Kusumoto had a poor relationship with her mother. The man tried to give her a doll, but the doll started to talk. Kusumoto immediately let go of the doll and the doll’s head broke. Without warning, Kusumoto ran off only to meet with Yuzuki in a grassland. Yuzuki said that Kusumoto is really her. Yuzuki started speaking that people simply wait to die in happiness, and the only reason is to enjoy the night like cats. Kusumoto continued to narrate that she knew nothing about Yuzuki despite spending a lot of time together.
One day, Kusumoto asked why Yuzuki hung out with her. Yuzuki answered that she is Kusumoto, and Kusumoto is her. Kusumoto is her previous reincarnation, while she is Kusumoto’s previous reincarnation. Yuzuki also tied a thread around Kusumoto, symbolizing that Kusumoto is her now. Back at home, Kusumoto’s mother told Kusumoto to stop hanging out with Yuzuki as it is disrupting her studies. Kusumoto says that she wants to be eternally young, and not grow old like her mother. Her mother said that only a “goblin” can be that way.
That night, Yuzuki said that her mother tried to strangle her to death as her mother hated her. Yuzuki then strangled Kuzumoto before releasing the grip. Kusumoto said she did not mind if she was killed by Yuzuki, and that she will turn into Yuzuki after she died. A few days later, Yuzuki added that she will be dead soon in a railway station as she had a pimple. Back on the train, a man saw a mirage of bloodied hands and dead soldiers. It was just a dream. He woke up to see Yuzuki carried away at a “failed suicide attempt”. The man asked Kusumoto whether Yuzuki is her friend, and she denied it. Kusumoto said that Yuzuki is her previous reincarnation. With that, the seemingly unconscious Yuzuki smiled.
Totally excellent graphics. If there is one series that has captured my attention in terms of positive animation, this series is it. Madhouse has done an excellent job for the first episode (and hopefully for the remaining episodes) on this CLAMP series. The character designs are also wonderful and beautiful, a seemingly polished version of XXXholic. That, in my opinion, can hardly be scorned at. As Maipeisu puts it in the chat, a combination of Madhouse and CLAMP is always something to take a look at, and he spoke the truth.
The story in this episode is very complex, and touches on many sophisticated themes such as life, death, murder and reincarnation. This is definitely not your typical shallow show and tries to make it with a horror twist too. There are a few parts in this episode that freaked me out, but I guess watching it at 1 am did not really help matters there.
Lastly, I totally adore the OP. To me, that is likely to be the top OP for the season and I did watch a lot of series for the fall. It is very fitting to the mystery style that is this series’ genre. The sound effects of this series is also awesome, and I really cannot wait to watch more episodes.
Trying to be sophisticated might be a pitfall. It throws many things at you that makes it hard for you to correlate everything together. There’s a fine line between being serious and being overly serious. The line is particularly fine in this series. Haters of anything close to shoujo ai might have a few issues with the overtones in this first episode. I wonder if it will appear more, but it feels quite apparent.
On a personal note, the story is so fragmented that it is almost impossible to do a summary for it. I read my own summary and did not even understand half of what I am actually saying (despite writing English). That might be a turn off for some who are used to standard style of story telling.
Verdict: A show that probably no one except a select group will watch due to its style. These people might be in for a treat.
Hiromichi Kojima is an all-star clean up batter that has won every single individual award in baseball, but one eluded him: the championship title. With that, Kojima decided to have special intensive training in America to get that elusive title. One night, his pitching trainer, Nagane injured his finger and could not pitch for him. When they went out to scout for a pitcher, they found an underground gambling den where they bid on a showdown between a pitcher and a batter. If the pitcher is able to strike out a batter or the batter hits it infield, he wins. If the batter manages to hit to the outfield, the batter wins.
The ringleader of this game mentions that the next pitcher is Japanese. He is Toua Tokuchi and Nagane was tricked to bet. They mention that the pitcher did not have that much speed and Nagane’s stupidity made them lose 4000 dollars. When they passed 4000 yen to the ringleader, she said that they lost 4000 USD. Nagane challenged Tokuchi to a match to win back the money. Tokuchi said he had no interest, and Nagane then taunted him that they are cheating. Tokuchi said betting 4000 dollars is too low, and wanted to bet 40000 dollars. Under the threat of Tokuchi, Nagane accepted but it is clear that Nagane is too stressed over the pressure of gold.
Nagane allowed a strike, and it is generally a valid strategy to observe the pitcher. However, in this game, it is a wrong tactic as the batter wins as long as they hit outfield, even if it’s a foul (aka out of the circle but hits far enough). Nagane eventually was unable to hit on the second straight ball too. Nagane was then informed by his friend that the pitcher is not wearing a glove. Without a glove to disguise the pitching style, Nagane noticed that Tokuchi was gripping with a screwball. It turned out to be a trick, and he lost. The ringleader said that she was really trying to trick them of their money, but Tokuchi is not part of them.
Hiromichi Kojima then appeared to the gambling den and won against two pitchers. One pitcher gave him the money since he won the bet. Kojima slapped the hand away and said that they are insulting the true spirit of baseball. Tokuchi appeared and said that he did not trick his friends out of their cash. Kojima said that baseball is sacred for him. Compared to someone who treats this as a game, he would never lose. Nonetheless, everyone else is betting on Tokuchi. This surprised Kojima. Tokuchi said that Kojima spoke heroically, but had little believability.
I have always been a huge fan of sport series that are good. Yes, that sounds like a total retarded statement but many sports anime tend to go into the standard shounen fare. In my opinion, sports do not need to be all about gaining power and leveling up. Leave that to Bleach and Naruto please, it’s their domain to have bankai and genkai and whatever kai they want. One outs hits the right spot with a mix of underground gambling and baseball. It is serious, yet gives a different twist to a very common sports in anime.
Hiromichi Kojima and Toua Tokuchi are parallel characters that will be an interesting pairing in terms of character chemistry. I am already liking the “righteous Kojima” and the “conniving Tokuchi”. Their battle in the next episode will be highly anticipated by me.
The music feels really standard and forgettable. Did they blow all their budget on animation or something? Anyway, the animation isn’t that good in the first place but it’s passable. Anyway, these are like trying to pick a bone in an egg. There’s little to complain about this series.
Verdict: A good set up story with rather dark overtones in a sports genre. What else do you want, really? One to follow.