Moshidora – Episodes 9 & 10 [END]

So Yuki dies and Minami yells at everyone that nothing matters anymore and that she really hates baseball. However, the team says they already knew because Yuki told them. Confused, Minami runs away, but Ayano chases after her. Meanwhile, the team falls to a 4-0 deficit after 7 innings by the time Ayano brings Manami to the stadium. Her cheering inspires the team and they close it to 4-3 after the 8th inning, and finish off with a 2 run double by Yunosuke in the bottom of the 9th to win 5-4 and advance the nationals.

We're going to nationals! We could have never have done it without the magic book!

We're going to nationals! We could have never have done it without the magic book!

So it finally took Yuki dying, Jil slapping her, and Ayano chasing her down and tackling her for Minami to realize that, you know, maybe there is more to baseball than just winning. I have to say that Minami’s character really went downhill for me over the last 4 episodes or so. She was being stupid going on about saying how it only matters if they win, and then she practically breaks apart the team. Yay her? I guess she did come back together at the end, but by then I had lost much of the respect I had for her character.

On the championship game, apparently whoever wrote it didn’t let the actual rules of baseball get in the way of the drama. Yunosuke was the last out in the 8th inning. However, after 2 outs and 2 baserunners – that is to say, after 4 batters – Yunosuke is back up to bat? Last time I checked, there are 9 batters in a baseball game, so if they wanted Yunosuke to win the game, they either needed for them to come back from farther down to go through all 9 batters or push it to extra innings.  Oops.

In the end, I don’t think this was a terrible show.  If you strip out a lot of the management book stuff, it’s actually a pretty good show I think.  But how they worked in the Management stuff just kept making it feel like some sort of infomercial, or like some guy trying to sell his business’ services during a wedding or funeral or some other time when it just didn’t feel appropriate. Such as like when Nikai goes and blathers about principles of management during an interview about their baseball team. I mean, really? And Minami is happy to have known Yuki…and for having read the book! Because they are so on the same level!

This just seemed like a good show that was brought down a considerable amount due to trying to fit in a certain book into the plot whenever they felt they could instead of just trying to make it flow.  I thought they had learned that lesson after it seemed like the book references went down between about episodes 4 and 8, but then it stated getting bad again, especially in the last episode. I kind of put up with it to start with since she was just learning about the book and trying to figure out how to implement it in practice. But I felt like eventually they just needed to put the book down and play baseball and tell a story and they just couldn’t do it, and it just resulted in this weird thing where they’re talking about this management book alongside Yuki dying and going to nationals and it just doesn’t play.

This is just on top of the fact that I find the idea of someone reading a book and then being able to reform a baseball team in one year as a result a rather silly scenario anyway. I realize anime isn’t exactly a medium where reality plays any role at all, but you still need a suspension of disbelief, and despite all the shows I’ve seen that have magical girls and giant robots, and what not, this is actually one where it was difficult for me to hold a suspension of disbelief. I guess part of it is that it was actually trying to be serious when I found the scenario to not really be that realistic. If one is able to see past all of this, then perhaps you’d enjoy the series, and I still did enjoy it myself to an extent. But it could have been better executed.

Moshidora – Episodes 7 & 8

Hodokubo pulls out the quarterfinal match and go on to play the tournament favorites Shuuhoku in the semifinals. The game is scoreless through 8 when Jun breaks the tie and a no-hitter with a homerun in the top of the ninth.  Yunosuke, however, almost blows it by missing an easy ground ball that would have been the 2nd out and then messing up an easy double play that would have ended the game. He also nearly costs them a game by tripping while trying to catch the game ending pop out, but the middle fielder bailed him out. The coach and managers discuss not playing him in the final, but Manami thinks he should be given the chance. Meanwhile, Manami goes to the hospital to find Yuki’s family solemnly gathered in her room.

I'm gonna hit your balls with my bat

I'm gonna hit your balls with my bat

Episode 7 was the first time I really wanted to grab the management book out of Minami’s hands and thwack her across the head with it. Yuki is trying to tell her that no matter what happens, the experience she’s had over the past year will be great, but Minami, now engrossed in management basically has a “winning is the only thing” mentality. I guess that sort of changes by the end, when she suggests they give Yunosuke a chance to play even though taking him out would seem to be the obvious choice from the winning point of view.  However, you could tell Yuki was disappointed that Minami wasn’t appreciating the journey and was only focused on winning.

And I think this is where using business management and applying to sports breaks down.  Yes, you try to win and want to win in sports.  However, part of the point of playing sports is to have fun and enjoy the ride, win or lose. That doesn’t really apply in the business world, so if you apply the no-holds-barred attitude towards sports, I think you take a lot of the fun away.

I kind of had a facepalm moment when Minami started getting people to sing Asano’s favorite pop song when he was having a bad inning. I think that would have embarrassed most people instead of encouraged them, personally. It also seemed to be a pretty cheesy thing to do, especially for a show that has actually tended to stay way from cheese for the most part up until now I think.

As for the end of the episode, maybe Yuki gave up on life now that her best friend is a win-or-else management freak, I don’t know. But seriously, obviously something bad happened with Yuki. She’s a nice character, and I guess one would figure she would either get better or die.

Moshidora – Episodes 4 – 6

Nikai goes from a bench warmer to manager, which works out pretty well for everyone. The team also gets help from other teams, such as the track team to learn how to sprint.  The coach also implements a new strategy called no-bunts-no-balls, meaning that the team won’t bunt and they will try to pitch strikes every pitch.  Also, new recruits come in and Minami has to narrow down the list to a dozen players whom she thinks fit best on the team

I'll so totally get you that awesome management book for Christmas!

I'll so totally get you that awesome management book for Christmas!

I think this was a better set of episodes than the first three, since I think the characters were a bit more free thinking, and while they still whipped out the management book, it doesn’t seem like it was quite as pervasive this time. I think the thing about Niaki becoming manager was a good twist, and it seems like he’s really better suited for that position anyway, especially given what he said his ultimate goals in life were earlier in the series.

As for the help from other school clubs. I can definitely see how the track team can help, and I can at least conceive of how the judo team can help the pitchers, but the home ec club? Really? What does filling out evaluations about cupcakes accomplish? I’m still scratching my head over that one, and they never really explained it.

The no-bunts-no-balls strategy is interesting, though I think it’s somewhat flawed. I’m more OK with the “no bunts” strategy. Bunting is pointless with 2 outs, and it has limited overall success even with 1 out, so I’m not sure you’re losing much by just going ahead and batting. They were able to score against the college team because not bunting went against the expected game play. However, that advantage will be lost soon enough as other teams scout them and see that they never bunt. As long as they’re actually able to get hits, they’ll be better off overall, but that’s a big if.

I have a bigger problem with the “no strikes” part.  The coach admits that it means getting a lot more hits. However, throwing balls isn’t always about getting strikeouts, though it somewhat is. It’s also about getting batters to contact balls that are easy to field. Throwing absolutely no balls seems like a strategy that allows the other team to get better contact on the ball needlessly, again, especially after they scout you and see that you never throw balls. Just like any sport, you are aided by unpredictability at times. Always throwing strikes removes a very significant portion of that unpredictability. Learning how to throw breaking balls will help, and I’m sure the anime will portray the strategy as a unmitigated success at the end, but I’d love to see someone try to implement that strategy in real life.

Moshidora – Episodes 1 – 3

I wanted at least two shows I could catch up on during the spring season. Unfortunately, the number of shows that looked interesting were pretty limited, or were 26 episodes long, which I didn’t really want to commit to at the moment.  Then I saw this show.  It seemed a little unusual, so I thought I would try it. It’s supposedly targeted toward a middle age audience, which is different.  I’m still not entirely sure about it based on it’s description, but I thought I would give it a shot as one of the two spring shows I went back and watched.

You aren't on fire, you're in hell. Management hell.

You aren't on fire, you're in hell. Management hell.

This has been a somewhat interesting show about trying to reform a baseball team, though I sort of feel like I’m watching some sort of infomerical where every now and then they’re like “and you can accomplish this just by buying this book! get it now!” I think some of the ideas that are portrayed in the series are good, but I’m still skeptical about the whole concept of reforming a high school baseball team just by reading a book.

It also just kind of feels like the attitude of the show is that people will just plod along doing things unless they’re told about some new idea by someone smarter or by a book. There are a lot of changes made which didn’t have to originate based on ideas from a book, yet the book is practically turning into the Bible for the team. While it may be helping some things, I kind of worry that it will also limit their thinking by thinking that everything they want to try has to be approved by “the book.”

I guess I”m not sure what I was expecting. I knew the book would play a part in the show, but like I said, they’re kind of using it as sort of Bible where if there is a problem, instead of thinking it through, they just whip out the book to find the answer. I’m not sure how realistic, or healthy, that is in the end.

Catching Up and Summer 2011 Season

Now that I’ve fully caught up on the shows I had been watching and blogging when I left off in February (even if they haven’t all been posted, the reviews have all been written and are in the queue), I thought I would go back and hit up some series from the winter and spring that looked interesting that I missed, as well as talk about what shows I was looking forward to in the summer 2011 season.

A look into what I've been up to for the past 5 months

A look into what I've been up to for the past 5 months

As far as going back, even though i already had three series from the winter season that I was working through, how can I not go back and give my thoughts on Madoka Magica, given all the hype I’ve seen about it online?  It’s #13 on MAL and all so I think I’ll go back and see what all the hype was about.  I’ve kind of learned from experience that if I put off watching a series people are hyping until later, it may be quite a while until I actually do get around to watching it, so I thought I’d go back and do it while I had the chance.

I wanted at least two shows from the Spring 2011 season as well. I didn’t want something that would spill into the summer season, so I needed something that was 13 episodes or less, as a result, there were a couple 26 episode series that looked interesting that I skipped over.  Instead, I’m going for Moshidora and Ano HanaAno Hana came based on a couple of recommendations, plus it looks like the most interesting  shorter show from the spring anyway. I’m picking Moshidora, partly because there aren’t many other interesting choices, and partly because it seems unusual: a management centric show, applied to baseball, targeted toward a middle aged audience.  It’s something different so I’ll give it a try.  I’ll run through these series in groups of 2 or 3 episodes just because they’ve all already finished airing at this point.

Now, as for the Summer 2011 season, I was debating between doing 2 and 3 shows, but since the two shows at the top of my list looked more serious, or at least not goofy, I decided I wanted to add a third goofy show to the list.  As a result, my list of shows for the summer are: No. 6, Usagi Drop, and Morita-san wa MukuchiUsagi Drop looks, based on previews, to be the class of the summer shows, so I have high expectations for it. No. 6 ventures into a type of show that I typically don’t watch very often, but the premise seemed interesting enough to give it a try.  I’m hesitant about Morita-San, partly because almost everyone working on the show is green, and the trailer was kinda iffy regarding production values.  It’s also a 4-koma, which can make it very hit-or-miss.  However, it seemed like the best choice out of the possibly goofy shows, so I’ll give it a try, and maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.