Hey guys. Welcome to a new, site only, segment called “Natsu reviews.” Before I go into talking about the first series I will be reviewing, I wanted to take a minute to explain how the reviews will work. I will be breaking down my reviews into 7 categories (6 if there is no dubbed version) and giving my thoughts on each of them. It will be similar to how we do the reviews on “What’s new in Animoo” with the exception of the ratings for each. Instead of using the 1-10 scale I will rate it on a scale of 1-5 Fire Dragon’s Roars. Just keeping with the general Natsu theme here. Here is what each number means.
1 – Don’t watch. There is no eyebleach that can make you unsee this atrocity.
2 – Worth a one time watch. You should be working on other stuff while this is in the background. It’s only worth part of your attention.
3 – Not too bad. You may want to rewatch parts of this series, but overall you don’t have to see them all again.
4 – Watch this again. Okay, sit down on the couch and ignore the world. This is one you need to see.
5 – Buy this now! Seriously, I don’t care if all you’ve seen is one episode. Or if you have bills to pay. This needs to be in you house, right now!
Please keep in mind that these are just my opinions and you may not share the same views as I do. However you may agree with some of them. If you agree with all of them, get out of my head there are too many voices in here and we just don’t have the room for you too. You don’t even pay rent anyway.
With all of that having been said let’s jump into our first review! For my first series I decided to start out with a sports genre anime. Because I really would like to see more of these being dubbed. So let me tell you about Big Windup!/Ookiku Furikabutte.
Big Windup!/ Ookiku Furikabutte
Synopsis: This is a baseball anime about a pitcher, (why is the main character in a baseball anime always a pitcher?) who was the ace of his Jr. High team because his grandpa owned the school. The kids at his old school treated him like crap and either bullied him or ignored him entirely. He goes to a new school for high school and ends up joining their baseball team as their pitcher.
I like how unlike most sports anime the main character doesn’t have a large ego or doesn’t start out the show having an awesome secret ability. His skill is just based on all of the hard work he had done up to that point. In this way I feel like he shares things in common with the main characters in Eyeshield 21 and Kuroko No Basket.
Story: The story is actually pretty solid. Though you do have your typical shounen sports themes in it. There is still a bit of originality to the characters that makes it interesting enough to keep watching. The trials of the main character are enough to keep you watching for the first couple of episodes, and I like that he plays a practice match with his new team against his old team pretty early into the show. I feel like it would have been a bit boring if the whole focus of the story was about him constantly improving so that he could one day face off against his old teammates and beat them.
Rating: Over all I give the story 4 out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars. The story was good enough to keep me watching the whole first season.
Art: The art quality is good. But it’s not outstanding. Given that this is an older series the art quality is good for the time when this anime came out. But if you’re expecting beautiful animation quality similar to Ace of Diamond, Free!, or Kuroko No Basket, then you are going to be disappointed. But the animation never reached a point where it hurt my eyes to watch, and it stayed consistent throughout the course of the series.
Rating: I will give the art quality 3 and a half out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars.
Sound: If you’re looking for a detailed review on the opening and ending songs, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. Neither caught my attention long enough to keep me from skipping through the opening to get to the show or skipping the ending so I could get to the next episode. However the background music did fit well with the setting and the sound design and mixing for both the sub and the dub were well done. I never felt like the sound was bad enough to pull me out of the story. I did however feel that both the opening and ending did that though, and thus the reason I skipped them. In defense of the opening and closing for this series I do skip the openings and endings of lots of different series, including Fairy Tail. I have a pretty high standard when it comes to music for series opening and ending. And if it doesn’t grab my attention in the first 5 seconds I will definitely skip it.
Rating: I give the sound for this series 3 out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars. There was nothing wrong with the sound, but there was nothing that really stood out about any of it either.
Characters: This is the one I couldn’t wait to talk about. The character types start off as typical shounen sports anime, but very quickly start to come into their own and you fall in love with them. Ren, the Pitcher is very timid and pretty much stays that way throughout the series. I like this a lot since it is closer to reality and the story isn’t focused on making him come out of his shell and be amazing. Takaiya, the catcher has a lot in common with Miyuki, the catcher from Ace of Diamond. They are both smart, work hard, and are always trying to bring out the best in their pitcher. However the relationship between Miyuki and Sawamura/Furuya and Ren and Takaiya is night and day. Takaiya loses his temper a lot with Ren because his speaks very softly and takes so long trying to say what he wants to say. This can get a bit annoying, but I feel like Takaiya is venting some of the frustrations of the viewer and this balances out. My favorite character is Yuichiro Tajima, the third baseman and the strongest player on the team. He is a natural at baseball and can play multiple positions, everything in baseball comes easy to him, but he’s not arrogant or cocky about it. In fact he is light hearted and happy. Just a lovable goofball that is played very well by Todd Haberkorn. What I find best about him is that he is not always happy either. He has his tough times, and goes through different emotions through the course of the series. Another thing I like about this show, is if a character is doing something that bothers you, or part of their personality gets on your nerves, the odds are good that it bugs someone else in the show too and they will address it. I like that this happens, because it helps me relate to the characters even more when we share the same thoughts about something.
Rating: I give the characters a 4 out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars. They’re interesting, and they are varied, but they don’t break out of the typical “Shounen Sports” archetype to really stand out from characters of other series.
Enjoyment: I think it’s safe to say that I really enjoyed watching this series, since I actually took the time and watch all of it. The characters were well done, the story and premise was interesting, and the way the characters interacted was fun. The only problem I have is that sadly nothing about this really was all that different from other series like it out there, so it gets buried in the mix and overshadowed by the ones that truly do stand out.
Rating: Again I really did enjoy this series. I would not have watched all of it if I didn’t. There were a lot of really good things about this series that I enjoyed and I think you will too. But I have to give it a rating of 4 out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars. It sadly just didn’t stand out enough.
Dub/Sub: Since I have watched both, and this is where I will make friends and enemies. Both are well done and the characters don’t really change that much from either. But I have to say that I enjoyed the dub more with this series. The direction and acting done at FUNimation really shines through. In all honesty if it weren’t for the dialogue in the dub I probably would have given this series almost all 3’s. The dub had a lot of smooth dialogue in the way the characters interacted with each other and it felt more natural. The goofball antics were well done and I felt that Sean Micheal Teague did a really good job portraying the meek and timid Ren. Since I am used to him being the cocky and pompous Koenma from Yu Yu Hakusho I thought this showed a really good range in his acting ability. I am by no means saying that the sub was bad, but I felt more connected to the characters when watching the dub. So in my opinion the dub wins by a slight margin, so I suggest you watch the dub.
Overall: Over all I think this was a fun and interesting series and is totally worth checking it out if you have a FUNimation elite account. Is this series alone worth getting an account? No. But there are many other series like Free!, Attack on Titan, Fairy Tail, and One Piece that are. So if you decide to get an elite membership make sure to add it to your queue, and watch it when you have some free time. If you haven’t checked out any sports series before I would suggest starting with something a bit better like Haikyu or Kuroko No Basket. If you prefer to watch a baseball anime instead of starting of with a different sport, I would suggest watching Ace of Diamond. While this is a good series it’s not one I feel you absolutely have to add to your collection. However the first season is available (all 26 episodes) for just $30. So it’s a pretty good deal. Sadly the 2nd season was never licenced due to lack of sales and interest for the first season. It felt like FUNimation was trying to bring a sports series to the US audience but this wasn’t really the series that could do it. But they did make up for it with the success with Free! Iwatobi Swim Club.