Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Battery Complete Series Anime Review

They say your catcher is like your wife.

What They Say:
Meet Takumi Harada—not even in junior high and he's the best pitcher in the region. However, he's frustrated and ready to give up because he can't find a catcher good enough to keep up with his pitching. After moving to a backwater town and being forced to start all over again, along comes a kid named Gou Nagakura -- the first catcher Takumi feels comfortable forming a battery with.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
After air conditioning and how it feels to take my socks off after a long day of work, anime and baseball (In no particular order) are my two favorite things in the entire world. That being said, when I first caught wind of Battery (No, that isn't a pitch-velocity pun), I was ecstatic. The fact that a baseball anime that emphasized emotion and relationships instead of action and energy was going to come to life was like a dream come true for me. However, after completing Battery, I think it's safe to say that it wasn't a baseball anime at all. Instead, it's a melodramatic, character-driven drama series that uses baseball as a metaphor for growing up and accepting change. What is going to make this review different from the widespread critical reception is that I'm actually okay with this. And while much of Battery's execution in terms of its dramatic elements does wind up falling short, it still possesses a plethora of subtle beauty that many people seem to be overlooking when it comes to analyzing it.

In the beginning of the series, we're introduced to Takumi Harada -- an angsty and conceited middle-school pitcher. Takumi places himself on a pedestal much higher than that of the average middle-school baseball player and essentially sees everyone that tries to interfere with his way of doing things as nothing more than an utter nuisance. That being said, when he finally encounters Gou Nagakura (The backup catcher for Takumi's new team) the path of narcissism he's been heading down since birth begins to deviate, albeit ever so slightly. Gou, who essentially demands that Takumi throw to him, expectedly struggles to catch his pitches at first. However, being powered by determination and excitement at the budding pitcher, Gou adapts and is soon able to catch for Takumi. Boom, battery formed. Now there's the whole issue of having the rest of the team accept them as well -- something easier said than done considering Takumi's attitude toward the rest of the team.

From this point on, Battery begins to use Takumi's attitude as a roadblock for character progression. That being said, the protagonist converts into the antagonist seeing as he's the only thing halting progression for the story. Everyone is waiting for Takumi to change and, unfortunately, he never really does. This is where the series essentially starts hurling it's problems at you like an Aroldis Chapman fastball.

With Takumi never changing his outlook toward baseball and his teammates, is there really any point to Battery at all? No, not really. The themes begin to become diluted and the characters, even Gou and Takumi, begin to distance themselves from one another. And, after a few out-of-place time skips, the series comes to an unsatisfactory close with nearly everything the same exact way it was when it all began. So what was the point?

Here's the thing -- maybe the general idea that the director, Tomomi Mochizuki (Ranma 1/2, Pupa), was trying to get across is that maybe, sometimes, there doesn't need to be a lesson learned or a character changed. We've seen countless examples in films where, once the story wraps up, everything stays the same way it was to begin with. Sometimes, what writers and directors want us to see is limited purely to how different people in a given environment interact with each other which, in all honesty, is something Battery does very well. The only problem with this is that a large portion of the anime community isn't accustomed to slow, seemingly meaningless tales like this. Many anime viewers want things like instant satisfaction, character progression, and closure. But that sad truth is that many writers don't believe cinematic aspects like this are needed to convey what they truly want to. This is where the whole analytical part of reviewing this series gets tricky. 

On a lot of the reviews I've read for Battery, the writer says something along the lines of, "If you want to watch a baseball anime, go watch X or Y." This misinterpretation of the general concept is just one of the driving forces that wound up culminating in Battery's under-6.00 score on Myanimelist. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of missteps in how the series played out (Nearly all of which coming in the latter half) but there's something most people are missing when it comes to giving a numeric score to this series.

Battery is well animated, well written, and beautifully scored and composed thanks to Akira Senju with OP/ED performances from anderlust. Side note: I firmly believe the Battery OP is by far the best of Summer 2016. The story, however, deviates from standards in its inconsistency and failure to follow accepted anime norms.

The X-Factor that comes into play when grading any particular series is the 'Enjoyment' element of the subject. The unfortunate truth for Battery is that it just doesn't particularly cater to the average anime fan. With this in mind, much of the subtle and silent beauty the series possesses winds up being overlooked due to its slow pace and static characters.

In Summary:
Battery is not for everyone. If you go into it expecting another shounen/action/sports series, you've come to the wrong place. Battery is an extremely slow, yet stunningly gorgeous and realistic coming-of-age story that reminds us of how things don't always get better in the end. And while we don't wind up ever finding out what the future has in store for Takumi and Gou, we have solace in experiencing the budding of their relationship and their struggles in just a small excerpt of their lives. Enjoyment for this show really boils down to how much you can empathize and relate (Or in many cases even hate) the character interactions displayed in front of you. If you're looking for a teen melodrama and want a break from the average subject matter, try this one out. It has problems, yes, but I'd say its smooth and enjoyable ride.

Grade: B

Streamed By: Amazon Video

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