Battery the Animation
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Battery the Animation ?
As Takumi becomes more trusting of him, Go's issues are starting to come out into the open. At the beginning of this episode, Go explodes because Takumi softens his throws to ensure that Go can catch them. Go doesn't appreciate the condescension and bursts into another fit of his characteristic punch-rage. Worse, this takes place during a crucial juncture, when Takumi is trying to impress high school superstar Kadowaki to ensure an exhibition match between their teams. It still works out, but that doesn't make it sting any less for Go. Since Go values Takumi's baseball career more than anything, he's outraged that Takumi would compromise it, even in a minor way, for his own sake. While the two boys are growing closer, they're still far form understanding one another.
After all this, it turns out that the two schools are unlikely to humor the request for an official exhibition match – but that doesn't mean that the kids can't all meet privately on their own time for a fun game of extracurricular catch. They agree to do so, but unfortunately, a threatened rival catches wind of Go's weakness and decides to use it to sabotage Takumi's play in the upcoming talent. While Kadowaki is genuinely excited by Takumi's talent (perhaps in more ways than one), his friend and teammate, Mizugaki, isn't as enthusiastic. He considers Takumi an upstart and tries to diminish him at every opportunity, through sabotage if not openly. Unable to faze Takumi, he sets his sights on the easier-to-read Go, who he understands better because they both fulfill similar roles for their team's star player.
It looks like Mizugaki has also shoved himself into the supporting role for his beloved BFF/future sports legend, taking all of his burdens upon himself whether Kadowaki wants him to or not. In this case, that means eliminating Takumi as competition. The truth is that Kadowaki is totally cool with Takumi. Mizugaki is probably only doing this for the sake of his own pedestalized image of his (boy)friend, under the guise of selflessness. This is the dark side to Go's adoration-based friendship of Takumi – it's ultimately selfish, based on Go nurturing his own image of Takumi rather than what Takumi himself wants or needs. At least, that's my interpretation of the situation. Battery the Animation hasn't yet attached a definite lesson to this quagmire of adolescent emotions, so that's my guess from Go's perspective. The kid needs therapy, and I really hope that Battery doesn't end up justifying his devotion.
In the meantime, the show continues to progress at its usual mild pace. They're now playing an actual game of baseball, which is what amounts to a thrilling midseason climax for this show. I feel that they may have built up Takumi's skills too much by this point – it's apparently a shocking cliffhanger that a strong player several years older than him manages to get a hit on him. That seems both ridiculous and antithetical to building tension. The innuendos are also intensifying, although I wouldn't yet call Battery a show with queer content. Mizugaki's dislike of Takumi really comes off as a “lady dost protest too much” response to Kadowaki's interest in Takumi. You're the one who keeps calling him pretty, dude. There's a chance that Battery may take the brave step to make these kids gay, but I wouldn't hold my breath for it.
This raises a issue I've been having with Battery – it feels like it dodges a lot of interesting opportunities to confront Japanese social problems. Instead, it opts for more naturalistic character drama, which is fine, but it's also a lot more commonly seen in anime. For example, the narrative skirted over the school's cover-up of Takumi's assault without much of a resolution besides furthering the atmosphere of pervading unfairness. I'd be more interested in seeing a situation like that confronted directly. The queer implications are also kept on the level of teasing implications you'd see in a more traditional fujoshi show, even though everything else about Battery serves to repel that audience. This show is based on a book for little kids, and I think it'd be more useful to show them a complicated adolescent romance between two boys than any out-of-place BL pandering. I'd hoped for more out of Atsuko Asano, the woman behind both this and No. 6. While No. 6 was very much for a fujoshi audience, it didn't pull its punches in making the main couple explicitly gay. Maybe Battery's audience and tone forced her to pull back a bit?
Either way, mild continues to be the word for Battery. It depicts adolescent emotions with consistent artistic competence and without ever getting too exciting. At least it's full of 12-year-olds punching each other. Now that's something I can get behind.
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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