Gambling, psychological manipulation, Baseball, cheating and a cunning main character, this time we take a look at One Outs
Disclaimer: This is part of a series of reviews of Anime which I think people should be more aware of. For that purpose I'm using the tag Ani-NOW, meaning Anime No One Watched, I'm tweaking the format a little to adjust to the objective of the review series: Try to make people interested in watching the show without spoiling too much.
Summary: Tokuchi Toua is a master gambler, and his specialty is One Outs, a simplified version of baseball (only pitcher vs batter) where the pitcher's aim is to keep the ball from leaving the infield.The story begins when Hiromichi Kojima, the star batter of the fictional Lycaons in Japan's Pacific League, a team down on it's luck, heads to the southern Japanese island of Okinawa to train and bring himself out of a slump. There, he meets Toua Tokuchi, a 134-kmph (83 miles per hour) pitcher and the undisputed king of One Outs. After a game of One Outs against Lycaons veteran hitter Kojima, Toua is persuaded to join the team.
The interesting part comes then. As the professional gambler he is when meets the team's owner he negotiates a unique contract: for every out Toua records, he earns 5 million yen; however, for every run scored against him, Toua has to pay back 50 million yen (10 times that amount).
- The main character. Throughout the whole series we are never allowed into Tokuchi's personal monologue, we don't know what he's thinking and we're only get so see everyone else's reaction to what he comes up with, and the explanation comes later. This only reinforces his master manipulator nature for the viewer and we get to see him as an expert of human behavior, and how he uses this to his full advantage. The amount of foresight and intuition that the protagonist displays in each episode is nothing short of genius, and the execution succeeds to the point where it always seems believable.
- Real life baseball can be boring for a lot of people, since there are TONS of dead time and pauses, and while the show reflects that in long mound/bench conversations and technical explanations, they are pretty entertaining and manage to keep you at the edge of your sit, contributing to the success of the show.
- There is almost no character development, and quite frankly side characters, aside from some very very few exceptions (specially Tokuchi battery mate, Ideguchi), are very forgettable and one dimensional. Or maybe Tokuchi just make them look that way.
- The show doesn't leave you with a sense of closure, so people may complain that the end is lackluster and more of a product to promote the manga, that at the time was being revived by the author after a two year hiatus
In short: A chess match disguised as baseball, but with one side masterfully manipulating both set of the pieces, there's almost none dull moment in the show. If you like dark, intelligent series with a great main character you can't pass out on this one.
- One outs series is produced by Madhouse, and directed by Yūzō Satō, who also directed Akagi and Kaji (both also Animated by Madhouse), two series with main characters with almost the same treats as Tokuchi. The 3 of them are also voiced by the same VA, Masato Hagiwara. This has caused people to make the mistake that the 3 series are by the same author, and while Akagi and Kaji are, One Outs is by a different author. Also the protagonist looks exactly like Yoichi Hiruma from Eyeshield 21 other ani-hero type of character that only aim is to win.
- The Opening theme has the same weird grammar as the show title (and me and this fan translation of the song). The song is performed by Pay Money to my Pain, whose vocalist K, passed away on December 30th 2012. After that the band released an album featuring songs that K recorded before his death, said album includes the song Respect for the Dead Man, which is used as the Opening theme for this Winter 2014 season Anime Nobunagun
BoringBaseball technical knowledge. Under the terms of the One Outs contract, to break even, Tokuchi at most can admit 1 earned run for every 10 outs recorded, that means 1 run every 3.1IP, which translates to a 2.72 ERA. Under that contract only 7 MLB pitchers qualifying for the ERA title would have made a profit, and 2013 AL Cy Young winner would have amassed a debt of 235 million Yens