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The Spring 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Oblivion Battery

How would you rate episode 1 of
Oblivion Battery ?
Community score: 3.2

What is this?


Haruka is a strong pitcher praised as perfect, and Kei is a skilled catcher known as the "General" who has lost his memory due to amnesia. The talented pair were hard to defeat in junior high, and they crushed other players' dreams. They both enroll in the no-name Kotesashi High School in Tokyo, where they encounter other baseball players who had quit after losing to Haruka and Kei.

Oblivion Battery is based on the Bōkyaku Battery manga series by Eko Mikawa. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Tuesdays.

How was the first episode?

Richard Eisenbeis

To be frank, sports anime are pretty hit or miss in my book—more often “miss” than “hit” to be honest. For me, a good sports anime needs to be about more than the sport. It needs to have either something like a romance angle or a greater personal/social problem that the team is working to overcome through their actions. It's here that Oblivion Battery fails.

The “greater problem” in this anime is one of the most overused clichés in fiction: amnesia. These days, this trope only works as a stepping stone to explore some greater theme about human nature—like if it is our memories that define us or something more. However, in Oblivion Battery, amnesia is simply used 1) as an excuse for why our super-skilled heroes are starting from zero and 2) for “comedy.”

Now, I put comedy in quotes because “funny” is the last word I use to describe any of the attempted humor in this episode. Every single time Kei opened his amnesic mouth, part of my soul died a little. He and his grade-school attempts at being funny are so unbelievably annoying that I honestly would have shut this One Off halfway through if I wasn't being paid to watch it. Meanwhile, our viewpoint character for the episode, Yamada, is only slightly better—full as he is of hero worship and self-deprecation. And as for Haruka… we'll he's a slightly talkative wall at this point.

22 minutes in and I feel no emotional connection to any of these characters—or rather a negative emotional connection to them. I don't care what happens to them and would rather never think about any of them again. And while, yes, the MAPPA animation looks great, that's nowhere near enough to save this one for me. It's pretty much lipstick on a pig as far as I am concerned.

Nicholas Dupree

There are two halves to Oblivion Battery, and they fittingly match well with the two halves of the titular battery.

On the one side, you have the stoic pitcher, Haruka, who always looks dopey whenever he's supposed to look serious. He represents the serious, earnest sports drama that serves as the foundation for the series, loyal to his lifelong friend and willing to throw away high school baseball to stick with his friend. There's some real merit to that idea, and just like Haruka's (supposed) good looks, the baseball action in this episode looks mighty sharp, delivering some nicely animated pitching, catching, and base running. Yet just as Haruka undercuts all that by looking like he's had a lobotomy, that drama is undercut by a weird amnesia plot line that makes it hard to fully connect to it all. It's not enough to ruin the serious sentiment at play, but it makes the story less compelling than a more believable conflict.

Then there's the other half, represented by Kei, who is loud and annoying, and I hate him. He represents – and delivers – most of the comedy in this episode and is insufferable for it. I know the joke is that he thinks he's funny, but nobody else does. However, that targeted anti-comedy needs careful delivery to land. Instead, Oblivion Battery beats you across the face with it like you're the baseball, and it's just as painful. Kei yells every punchline, mugs every reaction, and undercuts every last dramatic moment with a dumb joke you can see coming from a mile away. It's supposed to be charming, highlighting the difference between the once-deadly dedicated catcher and the irreverent goofball he's become without his memories, but the only lasting impression it left on me was that I was sick of hearing Mamoru Miyano, which is something I never thought I'd say.

If Kei's character isn't like nails on a chalkboard to you, then this is a fine enough introduction to a well-animated sports story. Unfortunately, so much screen time is dedicated to Kei's character and comedic antics that I cannot muster the will to watch any further. Maybe I'll check out the manga, where that stuff is easier to skim over, but for right now, this show has struck out.

James Beckett

Can I just say that Oblivion Battery is the most unnecessarily hardcore title for a baseball anime imaginable? A part of me feels cheated that we didn't get our protagonists using their baseball bats to fend off a horde of bloodthirsty interdimensional demons or something. Also, I've got pitches for days for any of the international publishers or studio executives reading this. Hit me up sometime.

Anyway, so far as the show that Oblivion Battery actually is, I thought it was just fine. Better than "fine;" I'd even go so far as to say it's "pretty okay!" The show has the whole "wistful sports drama about boys with feelings" routine down. The production values are decent, the direction is fairly confident, and the character designs are…well, okay, I think all of these guys look goofy with their long necks and weirdly proportioned heads. Still, the show isn't offensive to look at or anything. The bottom line is that I reckon the show's general vibe will please folks predisposed to enjoy this subgenre.

Now, if any single factor is going to decide whether or not you will end up picking up what Oblivion Battery is putting down, it's likely to be the characters; rather, it will come down to one character in particular. Kei Kaname is the amnesiac baseball wunderkind who gives the show the "Oblivion" part of its namesake, and he's…a lot. Beyond being a literal walking cliché, his personality is a nearly pitch-perfect recreation of that one kid everyone went to school with who would just not shut the hell up until he got a laugh (or a reaction of any kind) from his peers. I was kind of amused by Kei's shtick, both because he made some funny faces throughout the episode and because it's not the kind of archetype you often see in these coming-of-age sports dramas. He certainly balances out the reserved nature of Taro, our perspective character.

On the other hand, though, Kei has the potential to be annoying as all hell. This isn't necessarily a criticism of the writing since Kei's absurd personality is an intentional feature and not a bug. However, this will not make him any more endearing to folks who tire quickly of hyperactive teenage boy shenanigans. Plus, there's the whole amnesia thing, which is pretty dumb, no matter how you slice it. I appreciate what Oblivion Battery is trying to do, and I've seen much worse from the premieres this season, but I doubt viewers will flock to this thing in droves. That is, unless a horde of interdimensional flesh eaters come pouring through a hell gate, and the fate of the universe ends up being determined by a game of bloodsport baseball…

Rebecca Silverman

I have enjoyed many baseball series over the years (although not, it must be said, actual real-life baseball), but this first episode doesn't make me confident that it will be one of them. Trading in themes of amnesia and friendship, Oblivion Battery treads familiar ground while also managing to be impressively annoying, from its background music to the odd universal haircut with M-shaped bangs that everyone has. And that's not even getting into Kei, our amnesiac catcher, whose injury appears to have turned him into someone incredibly irritating with a nipple fixation.

That may not be a fair assessment of the character, of course. While we don't know what caused Kei's head injury (my money's on either baseball or a traffic accident, possibly involving saving a cat or small child), it is obvious that he was under a tremendous amount of pressure prior to it. He and Haruka formed the most elite middle school battery there was, and speculation was rife about which elite baseball-playing high school they'd attend and rumors about them going pro. While that worked for the more stoic Haruka, it could have made Kei feel trapped and anxious, and his amnesia could have resulted from him trying to find a way out. He clearly remembers much about the game (muscle memory and all that) but actively rejects it on a conscious level.

The alacrity with which he runs away from Haruka when he spots Taro also says a lot. The high school they're all three enrolled in doesn't have a baseball team (or so they think…), and that's deliberate for Taro, who had his spirit crushed by Kei and Haruka in a game. But it looks pretty likely that that's why Kei chose the school as well, with Haruka simply following after him; Kei is desperately trying to distance himself from his past, and Haruka seems to be the One Piece of it that he can't shake. He probably still likes Haruka on some level, but he's inextricably tied to those lost memories of baseball, and that could create a conflict Haruka is steadfastly ignoring. It certainly looks like he can't let go of the past, even as Kei seeks to sprint away from it.

Almost more than the annoying factor, the other serious issue here is with the art. The character designs are incredibly unattractive, with tiny heads on giraffe necks and that aforementioned haircut. Haruka has one facial expression to his name, while Kei cycles through a lot of weird ones that are meant to be funny but aren't. Scenes of Haruka's thighs as he's pitching are lovingly animated, but other parts look much less impressive, making for an episode that's neither fun nor attractive to watch. There are better baseball buddy stories out there, and I'd suggest finding one of them instead of this.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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