Battery the Animation
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Battery the Animation ?
In this third episode, our leads are finally starting to play some actual baseball. Takumi begins attending his new school, where he immediately gets into trouble for a rebellious attitude. At tryouts, our preteen hero makes a strong impression with his pitching, but then antagonizes the coach by refusing to cut his hair. While this insubordination could threaten his place on the team, Takumi doesn't sweat it, saying that the coach would have to let him play for a shot at the championships. When Go points out that the coach may not care about winning, Takumi can't comprehend it. To him, baseball is still a solitary endeavor in self-betterment. In the end, Takumi's pride triumphs, and he admits that he'd rather not play baseball than submit to authority. Suddenly enraged by this declaration, Go nearly assaults Takumi, declares him the “worst type of person,” and storms off into the distance. Does Takumi care enough about his new friendship to repair this breach? And what issues are causing Go's devotion to – and sudden antagonism towards – Takumi?
Having established its basic character dynamics, Battery the Animation has slowed its pace a bit. Considering that the show was pretty chill to begin with, the result is some real low-energy entertainment. Takumi's authority issues continue to cause trouble, but this time there isn't even the threat of a shallow pool to spice up the action. He angers his coach, Mr. Otomurai, and by extension, his new best friend Go. That's it. I'm sure that it'll all be patched up next episode, but this is Takumi's moment to reciprocate the bond of friendship that Go has been lavishing upon him for a while now.
Battery is still in conventional sports show territory, spouting the usual theme of it's more important to be an emotionally well-rounded person than a friendless champion. What makes this more distinct are the characters' ages. Unlike a lot of anime middle schoolers, Go and Takumi act like real kids on the cusp of adolescence. They're often bratty, rash, and shortsighted, but they don't have bad intentions. They're just clumsily navigating complicated emotions for the first time. By starting middle school, they're beginning to contemplate the directions their futures could take. That's an enormous load for any young person, much less one living in Japan's infamously punishing school system. So far, Battery looks like it's criticizing the pressure to thrust these kids into the system right away. Go's mom wants him to quit baseball because it's a disposable fun activity, while Takumi can't imagine playing for anything but achievement. Fortunately, the boys also have a couple of role models who encourage them to relax and enjoy their youth, winning be damned.
I also like how neither of these two boys are unrealistically charming or mature. Takumi is a standoffish brat who picks unnecessary fights with authority figures. Go, meanwhile, seems to be emotionally volatile, vacillating between too-strong attachment and anger towards Takumi. Still, they come off as good kids, and I'm excited to watch them learn to enjoy their adolescence. However, this also has a downside. I haven't seen Battery the Animation talked up as much as this season's Days and Cheer Boys!!, and I think that's because it isn't courting a fujoshi audience as much. This is most evident in the different casts. Fujoshi sports shows tend to favor crews of immediately lovable rapscallions. (Think Haikyuu!! or Yowamushi Pedal.) Days and Cheer Boys!! are much closer to that appeal than Battery, whose lead often comes off as aggravating in his tween-dom. It makes for good low-key character drama, and it's probably a useful show for kids experiencing similar things at home and school, but there's not much in the way of fandom appeal. Still, I like diversity in my anime, and if you're looking for something in this vein, Battery remains a good time.
Battery the Animation is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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