- Trailer: English subtitled version
- What it’s about: Tokuchi Toua is a big fish in a small pond. Despite having only mediocre skills as a pitcher, his ability to analyse his opponents has made him the undisputed king of the underground gambling world of “One Outs” baseball. Until one day he is presented with a challenge from the all-star batter Kojima Hiromichi to sign up to the professional leagues. Toua suggests a bizarre contract to the team’s owner: in lieu of a salary, he’ll be given $50,000 for every batter he outs, but for every run he gives up, he has to pay back $500,000. For a businessman who doesn’t care whether the team loses so long as it makes him money, this seems like a dream deal. But is it?
- Why you should watch it: This isn’t your standard sports anime. Baseball is more or less just the colour of the paint slapped onto the real meat of the series – the psychological tricks and underhandedness of the central character as he seeks to dominate his opponents on and off of the field. It’s a very watchable series that encourages you to keep on playing one episode after another. The characters are well-written and the challenges are interesting. Definitely give this a go if you’re a fan of the “genius protagonist” trope.
- Caveats: You don’t need any knowledge of baseball to enjoy the series, but a little familiarity with the basics of the game (what’s a pitcher? how are points scored, etc) is definitely beneficial. The show leans heavily on the omniscient narrator to explain what’s going on in everyone’s heads. Some of the situations are a little contrived – if the shenanigans in episode 8 went down in a serious league game there would be riots. This is a series that’s best watched in bursts – finish a game or two and then take a break or you’ll end up a bit tired of the formula.
- Themes: Intelligence trumps brute strength. Application of psychology.
- Similar works: No Game No Life is a more comedic take on the same sort of thing. Kaiji and Akagi are also quite similar, though the protagonists are a little different.