This week’s BNA gives us a better glimpse at what Anima City does for leisure by watching baseball games that devolve into deathmatches. But when Shirou is told to investigate the open secret of gambling on games and Michiru is recruited into one of the worst teams in the league, both parties are tangled up in the web that is beastmen baseball.
One thing that makes this episode worthwhile is Imaishi’s involvement with the storyboarding. Throughout the episode, there are various visual gags that are reminiscent of Kill la Kill such as Michiru’s funnier expressions and Michiru’s motivated look resembling Mako and Ryuuko’s respective appearances. The characters’ movements are noticeably crazier as well with each throw, leap, and argument being cartoonishly expressive and visually entertaining.
Story-wise, it gets a little lost in its Aesop considering that the only dramatic change that occurred was that the coach stopped taking gambling money to throw games. Michiru’s “ball is life” mentality is admirable but short-sighted as the Bears are in the uncomfortable position of having their main source of income be from such dirty money.
Our main takeaway is that Michiru used the sport to be proud of her unique abilities (placing herself further in the eye of the nefarious blonde guy) and made new friends through her teamwork with the Bears. But unless we see more of them and they end up being far better without Michiru, they are still living in poverty. They are likely going to be starving into the next season unless the system dramatically changes to help them receive financial support without resorting to gambling.
And that’s where Shirou comes in. Barbaray told him specifically to investigate the illegal gambling ring for baseball, but when he finds the thread that links the Bears and the mafia together, he chooses to lie to her about not discovering it and letting it continue. Shirou’s insistence on only arresting mobsters when the time is right ends up feeding into the same cycle of oppression and the same mindset that caused Anima City to look to illegal gambling for entertainment.
Michiru brought passion back into the game, but without having solved the issue, Shirou ends up doing the same exact shit as he did in the last two episodes by winking at mafioso that ends up getting their hands in almost every form of industry in Anima City. The docks of Anima City are the city’s graveyard at this point, but I guess the planets haven’t aligned in the right position for Shirou to finish the tasks that Barbaray tells him to do without letting the mafia turn more beastmen into chum.
On a lighter note, the coach ended up being an interesting character because of the adversity that he had faced between his childhood and now. He had a dramatic backstory as someone who grew up as a kid loving baseball, but due to the prejudice he would face in human leagues as a beastman baseball player, he violently attacked the players on the field. It makes it all the more upsetting when you see him as a disgraced player who coaches his team to throw game-after-game as he guzzles beers in the dugout. His resolution comes from the pride he gains to cheer on his players without resorting to the mafia to pay everyone, and even if it comes at his and his players’ expenses, there is hope that the regained passion he has for baseball might help him and the team gain the prestige they earned with their championship run with Michiru. Hopefully, Michiru’s influence can help the Bears be able to thrive and live more comfortably, but above all else, I’m hoping that we’ll see Shirou put his foot down with how much he’s done to remain complicit with the mob’s stranglehold on Anima City.