「池のほとり」 (Ike no hotori)
“The Banks of the Pond”
It’s probably no exaggeration to say Battery isn’t a series that’s going to play to the masses. It doesn’t seem to have a natural target demographic, apart perhaps from the old NoitaminA audience (which tended to be pretty small anyway, and never had a sports-themed show to contend with). It’s not a hard-core sports series like Diamond no Ace, nor is it an Ikebukuro shippers paradise like Haikyuu or Yowapeda. It has no commercially powerful source material to support it and be supported by it (the novels it’s based on were released well over a decade ago). In short, it’s one of those periodic anime that make you wonder how they were ever greenlit in the first place – and like many of them, it makes me heartily glad that in defiance of all logic it exists.
As if all that weren’t enough, Battery also gives us a main character who, at this point in the story, is pretty unlikable. This is a syndrome I’ve seen repeated over and over in recent years – in a medium where light-novel adaptations have become highly influential, fans don’t have much patience for a character who has to develop into someone admirable. They want a winning protagonist right out of the gate, because we’ve been conditioned to believe that everyone is going to be pretty much the same in the final episode as they were in the first. That’s certainly not true with either the writer or director of Battery‘s prior works and it won’t be the case with this one, but I don’t know how many viewers are going to stick around long enough to find that out.
For now, though, Takumi is a big (abnormally big for a 12 year-old, even a jock) bucket of attitude. There are some definite patterns emerging here, and one of them is that Takumi is someone for whom things have tended to come pretty easy – at least in terms of baseball. As his grandfather says, he’s been given a great gift that no amount of practice can replicate – he can throw any pitch wherever he wants, at any time. But as a result of it, he’s never really suffered adversity. This is a syndrome common to super-athletes – as kids they utterly dominate the competition, to the point where their sport is barely a challenge. But the higher they go up the chain, the less likely that is to continue. Sooner or later, at least some of the c0mpetition catches up to you – and it’s how you react that determines whether you flame out or become one of the unicorns who can actually compete in a sport professionally.
It’s also clear that Takumi’s love for baseball is genuine – at least for as long as he owns it. That makes it ironic that all of a sudden he’s being asked left and right to urge those close to him to give up the sport. In the case of Gou, I think we can assume the reason his mother wants him to quit is so that her son can follow in his father’s footsteps (in Japan, it’s more or less expected that an eldest son will inherit a father’s medical practice). Takumi’s own mother is asking him to convince Seiha to stop playing – or trying to – for reasons that were already clear in the premiere.
Takumi’s reaction to these requests is telling – he’s totally unwilling to entertain the idea of urging Gou to quit, because he knows Gou is good enough to help him succeed on the diamond. But he’s happy to piss on Seiha’s dreams, and a real fault-line clearly exists in the Harada family over this. Seiha’s medical issues haven’t been explained clearly yet, but there does seem to be some sort of legitimate issue at work there. But Seiha is a pretty clear-headed and determined little boy, and he has allies in his grandfather and in Gou as well. That’s why it’s no surprise when Takumi goes to meet his new catcher at the Shrine and finds Gou already there, playing catch with Seiha (who, as we know from the premiere, has a pretty good arm himself).
The contrast between the brothers could hardly be more stark here. Seiha is adorably frank and wise, taking a very mature view about his possible future in baseball (“I don’t want to become you. I just want to play”). Of course for Takumi, everything has to be about him – his favorite response to other people’s problems seems to be “It has nothing to do with me”. He’s really at his most obnoxious here – being rude to adults (as he is) may be more shocking in Japanese society, but being so cruel to a child who adores him is the far greater sin in my view. Throwing away Seiha’s precious baseball is indeed crossing the line, and Gou points it out in no uncertain terms.
What this all comes down to, I think, is Takumi being “weak under pressure”. His reaction to Seiha getting lost is for all intents and purposes abject panic, and his fall in the lake after he and Gou find Seiha once again highlights that there’s something going on with Takumi’s pitching arm (which he tries to protect when he falls – whether it be an anxiety disorder of a physical ailment. Takumi defines himself through baseball, because in baseball everything has always been handed to him. He’s going to taste the harsher side of life now, clearly (perhaps terribly harsh, though I hope what I’m imagining doesn’t come to pass), and how he’s able to persevere and grow through that experience is going to define both Takumi as a person, and Battery as a story.
A quick note: I’ve started an anime and Japanese culture-themed Youtube channel called Notaku with Setsuken of Anime-Evo.net – stop by if you get a chance!
The kid is like 12… The way he acts doesn’t make ANY sense.
Actually, I think the way he acts makes sense for a kid his age. It’s the way he looks that’s a little harder to believe.
It is indeed the art because the manga illustration makes him look much younger.
ok i thought he is 15 or older but anyway its normal for kids in his age to act the way he is , im liking the anime so far so i’ll keep watching.
I’ve been noticing online (e.g. Reddit) that a lot of people think the characters in the show act unrealistically. I strongly disagree with that. I think the characters in Battery act refreshingly human.
Takumi acts just like a 12 year old, all of his rash decisions, jealousy, confusion, etc. are hard for young adults to empathize with, but are very typical teenage behaviors.
Go’s parents and Takumi’s parents acted just like usual (Japanese) parents with regards to quitting baseball. Some criticize them for asking Takumi to do all the talking, but that’s what parents do when their words don’t get through to their kids.
All in all, I’m irked to see so much talk about ‘unrealistic’ behavior in Battery. I think anime watchers are just too used to high school settings where the parents are irrelevant and the characters are static.
No normal 12 year old behaves in this sort of manner. And I speak from direct experience of being 12 myself not so long ago, and being around numerous others of the same age (the 400 other students in my grade/year).
Hence people saying such behaviour is unnatural, which I completely agree with.
Personally I’m fine with Takumi. Its the catcher I don’t like. What right does he have to continually butt into what is a personal family matter? He also doesn’t know about the little brother being sick & weak & just assumes Takumi is being a dick, rather than looking out & worrying for his little bro.
& don’t get me started on the 2 mums. Try parenting yourselves you useless women, rather than forcing a 12 year old to do your job for you. Its especially bad with the catcher’s mum. She demands Takumi talk to a guy he’s known for like a day about what could be a life-changing decision, rather than be a good mother & do it herself.
If Gou doesn’t know anything about Seiha’s condition, his encouraging him to play baseball really isn’t butting in, is it? It’s just being a friend.
As for his Mom asking Takumi to talk Gou into quitting, I agree that was kind of a sleazy thing to do. But the feeling I got was that she’d already tried to do so herself many times and had so luck, which still doesn’t give her the right to ask Takumi to do it, but I don’t think it’s fair to suggest she’s never done it herself. I don’t think the evidence suggests that.
It was more that Gou takes the little brothers side over his supposed new friend’s. I know I wouldn’t like someone butting in between me & my brother. Especially if they just assumed something, without even wondering if there’s more going on.
fair enough with the mum, she did try herself first. Though there are better methods than giving up & asking a kid to do your job for you
I get your point with Gou. But to me, you know, these are 12-13 year old kids (even if they don’t look it). Is it so hard to believe a good-hearted guy like Gou would see a seemingly healthy little boy like Seiha who obviously wants to play ball, think his brother was being a DB to him, and want to show him some kindness? With the perspective of an adult maybe you wouldn’t do that, but these aren’t adults.