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Big Windup!: Part 1

2009 TV Series (episodes 1-13). Director: Tsutomo Mizushima. 315 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $59.98. Distributor: Funimation.

In middle school Mihashi was the ace pitcher for the baseball team. So, why did the rest of the squad ostracize him and refuse to hone his skills? He supposedly got the job because his grandfather owned the school. Consequently, Mihashi is a paranoid, nervous wreck that thinks he sucks! The only thing left to do is enroll in a new high school, where the players don’t know how bad he really is.

But is Mihashi a bad pitcher? Or was he just lacking a team?

A former pitcher myself, I remember well long practices, curve balls, knuckle balls, and how to read a batter by where he stands in relation to home plate. And Big Windup is about thing and one thing only: baseball. From the very first episode, Mihashi and his new catcher Abe will walk you through the mechanics of America’s pastime. Everything from how to throw a forker, strike out the clean up hitter, and strategically beat a team with pitches instead of a pitcher is covered in great detail.

Needless to say, you better like baseball, if you’re going to watch Big Windup. Don’t get wrong, there is the typical coming of age story and focus on teamwork in Mihashi’s evolution, something typical of any sports flick. But, like a baseball game, it can move very slowly. The first DVD, in fact, is devoted to just one game. It’s like I’m fifteen years old again, watching an Angel’s game that ends in a score of 1-0.

Be that as it may, Big Windup gets points for just being itself. So much anime being licensed in the US seems defined by supernatural high school students charged with killing ghosts or man-eating beasts, whether it is on earth or a parallel world. So, it’s always nice to see the other side of anime that is so prevalent in Japan, that is, its reflection of the contemporary world.