「強豪校への挑戦」 (Kyougou-kou e no Chousen)
“Challenge to the Powerhouse School”
Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed with Battery this week.
It seems fitting for a series with this one’s title that an assault and battery should prove the pivot (with apologies to Mr. Trump) point, but it strongly seems as if that’s the case. What Nobunishi and his henchmen did to Takumi last week redefined the entire first half of this series and framed the story. Takumi may be, as his coach calls him, an insufferable brat. He may, as his mother ruefully declares, leave his adoring otouto so starved for attention that he turns into an eager puppy whenever Gou is present. He may, as Nobunishi accuses, never have dreamed about his team winning a crucial game. But what Nobunishi did mooted all of that – it was an act of savage cowardice and cruelty that placed everything else into perspective.
That’s why I find this episode to be a bit of a letdown. We have a long way to go with Battery, but if last week’s ep felt like a defiant accusation against all that’s rigid and perverse about schoolboy baseball and Japanese child-rearing, this week felt as if it was, if not a surrender, at least a retrenchment. Rather than a challenge against what was wrong it was an acceptance that it is what it is, and in the end there’s not all that much that can be done about it. But as I said, we have a long way to go so I’m not going to give up hope that was only a strategic retreat.
One thing I know for sure – any scenario where Nobunishi is invited back to join the team is certainly out of whack. Simply put, that shouldn’t happen. Even if you set aside the sheer brutality and meanness of what Nobunishi did to Takumi specifically, he also screwed his own team royally. It was his actions that got them suspended from official activities and banned from the Spring Tournament. This is entirely his fault (well, I’ll spare a little blame for the coach for letting it happen) – not Takumi’s for being the victim, not Sawaguchi for telling the truth. Nobunishi shouldn’t even have the option to come back, never mind have the coach and captain beg him to stay. Hell, he should have been expelled.
But this is Japan, so of course we get what we got here. That’s probably how it would play out in real life, but I’m disappointed to see Battery accept that reality without more of a fight. On the upside, it seems as if we’re finally going to get a game of baseball in this baseball anime (I know it’s a baseball anime because it’s in the tags). That’s the part of this that rings true – what everybody really wants most is just to play baseball. Takumi and Gou want to play 140 kph catch, Tomura-sensei wants to watch it happen, Kaionji wants to have one more bite of the apple before he has to retire.
The problem, of course, is that the tournament is over and there’s really no more baseball to be played for the duration of the third-years’ middle school careers. But the coach as a plan – try and get a practice match with powerhouse Yokote middle school, the district champions. Truthfully he has no idea how to do that, and the scumbag principal says a quintessentially Japanese thing to him – “The baseball team doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to Nitta Middle School.” But Kainoji has a plan – he’s befriended the Yokote captain, Kadowaki Shuugo (Ono Yuuki). Kaionji teases the “once in ten years talent” Kadowaki-kun with tales of Takumi’s 140 kph (a very good high-schooler’s velocity) fastball, figuring if the first-year can strike him out Kadowaki will be the type to want revenge.
Kadowaki has other ideas, but he sees enough to be interested – so I think it’s a strong bet that game is going to happen, and soon. That’ll be interesting to see, but I’d also like to see some development with Seiha, who’s largely been abandoned by the plot after a very strong start. But the OP and both EDs certainly seem to suggest that was not a mirage (and a whole lot of unsettling imagery suggests there’s more to play out here), so I hope we’ll see some movement on that front before Battery is done. In terms of the character side of the story, Seiha’s relationship with Takumi and Gou is the most engaging part of the story.
ED2: 「若者のすべて」 (All the Young People) by (anderlust)