Baseball is one of the major sports of Japan and thus there are a lot of popular sports anime are based on baseball. Ookiku Furikabutte (or Oofuri) is another baseball-themed sports anime which takes a somewhat different and more realistic take at the sport.
NOTE: I will be covering both the seasons in this review as they are done by the same studios and the second season is set right after the first one.
When baseball anime are considered, Diamond no Ace, Cross Game and Major are the more popular options and they are good anime in their own rights. But, to be totally honest, I prefer Oofuri more due to its realistic take on the sport and the anime taking the time to build the characters as much as possible.
Unlike Diamond no Ace, the anime isn’t set in a setting where the team is already established and is considered a baseball powerhouse, instead, the setting of the series is set in Nishiura High School which never had a baseball team and only had a softball team. It also does not feature a lead who is crazy about baseball in an unbelievable way like Major does. Instead, you are given Mihahshi Ren, a pitcher who thinks he became the ace due to favouritism due to his grandfather being the trustee of the middle school he studied in. This leads to him being bullied his entire middle school days making him extremely introverted and does not have the personality that is expected of a pitcher.
The story is set in the high-school setting within a baseball team which consists entirely of first-year students who have little to no experience in their middle school days barring a few team members. The story conveys how the team who are complete strangers to each other manage with each other as they try to be the best team possible. Though the story is not the most revolutionary, it is enough to have you curious about the next episode.
The Art is mostly realistic and is done relatively good by A-1 Pictures. Being a slice of life and sports anime, some of the scenes are pretty calming and it is pretty detailed too. There are no obvious screw-ups and the character models are pretty well done too as some of the characters do look similar in the manga, but the anime manages to differentiate between them all quite nicely.
The OP and ED are pretty good in both seasons and the VA for every character is a job well done, especially the VA for the lead does a damn fine job managing to bring Mihashi and his quirkiness to life. The other VA’s also manage to bring their characters to life thus adding more character to the anime as a whole.
This is the best part about the anime, the real meat of the anime. The character development that happens during its entire two season run is absolutely fantastic and it has one of the best character development I have seen in an anime. The manga too which has been running quite strong has managed to give more depth to the existing characters making them more realistic and allowing you to connect to them better and rather faster. The anime even goes to the length of making the opposition team feel real and not just a plot-point for the development of the anime. Obviously, one of the biggest character development occurs with Mihashi, with the anime making you change your opinion of him with every episode. At the beginning of the first season you might actually not like him since he is more of a crybaby and does not feel like the main character but as the episodes go on you can see his behaviour change as he becomes more confident in himself and relies on his teammates more.
The other characters, like the other half of the battery, the catcher Abe Takaya, who is more of a sly character as he exploits the opposition at times for his team’s benefits and also as he gets pissed at Mihashi for being a crybaby and not conveying his thoughts to Abe. Then there is Tajima, who is more of a vocal kind and is also a genius when it comes to sports and is one of the only one in the beginning around who Mihashi feel comfortable, so much so, that the other team members think of Tajima as the elder brother of Mihashi as he knows what he is thinking and always manages to cheer him up when he feels down. There are other characters too, which if I keep on discussing is going to turn this review into a multi-page affair. The best part of the anime is that its emphasis on the fact that the collective contributions of all the team members lead to the winning of the game and it really is surprising when characters you think are just tertiary characters of the team actually end up playing better than others at times.
- Realistic and believable character.
- Good character development throughout the series.
- Good animation and art quality and really good voice-overs.
- Brilliant story-telling.
- Really detailed matches.
- Couldn’t find any cons.
This is without any doubt one of my favourite sports anime closely followed by Haikyuu and Hajime no Ippo and if I had to score it, I would score it 10/10 without any doubts and this is one of those anime where I want a new season. But, in the meantime, I recommend reading the manga as the quality is simply fantastic and is a must read if you really like the anime.