Play Ball – episode 2

October 20, 2005 on 12:01 pm | In Play Ball | Comments Off on Play Ball – episode 2

“Play Ball for Tomorrow”

New group! Play Ball for the Love of the Game! Assorted other baseball clichés!

Taniguchi continues his intense soccer training regime, impressing the team so much that they make him part of the main squad. However, in Taniguchi’s mind, the ball becomes a baseball … he tries to shake the image, but he can’t; can Taniguchi forget his love of baseball? Can sheer passion overcome physical disability?

Watching Taniguchi try to lose himself in soccer was effectively told through his training montages, his sheer fury on the field and his uncertainty by himself. You can easily juxtapose this with the carefree way in which he coaches the kids’ baseball game; in fact, I invite you to do so.

I should really hate these character designs, but Play Ball bursts with charm for me. The manga was written in the eighties, and judging by the technology used in this adaptation, there were not even attempts at modernisation. The Japan presented is that mysterious land that represents the “springtime of youth” favoured by so many directors. You see this idealised urban Japan all the time in anime, and I can never tell if this society was ever more than a dream.

The sports are represented in an exciting fashion, in a genre where cliché is encouraged because it can actually add impact rather than detract. Considering that this is a baseball anime, the soccer scenes are pulled off with aplomb – this episode featuring a particularly impressive headbutt technique.

The tendency to have sports matches in the afternoon adds to the atmosphere, with many beautiful orange skies on offer. Perhaps soccer is the Autumn of Taniguchi’s life; I can imagine that the baseball scenes to come will feature green grass and vibrant blue skies. It’s a cheap visual metaphor, but it works.

Will the power of sports and friendship see Taniguchi true over the coming episodes? Damn straight.

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