Battery the Animation
Episode 8

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Battery the Animation ?

Last week on The Real Housewives of Little League Baseball, Takumi and friends began their match against a local team of high school champions. He managed to strike out their star player, the hulking batter Kadowaki, but this attracted the attention of Kadowaki's boyfriend best friend, Mizugaki, who resolves to eliminate this threat to Kadowaki's glory. This week, the nefarious sidekick quickly identifies Go – Takumi's own life partner – as his greatest weakness. Go already struggles to keep up with Takumi's pitches, so Mizugaki psyches him out further with a few well-placed jabs. Adjusting himself to Go's severely diminished capacity, Takumi whiffs every other pitch in the game. In the end, Kadowaki is left humiliated, while Takumi runs off in shame. Go is credited with severely limiting Takumi's abilities, and it looks like their battery is about to be broken up by force.

The rest of the episode turns into a mopefest. Go mopes because he feels like an inadequate partner for Takumi. Takumi mopes because Go isn't talking to him. Kadowaki mopes because he's confused and disappointed by Takumi's performance. Only Mizugaki seems cheerful, and that's because he's always compensating for something. While the romantic subtext to Mizugaki's possessiveness was already obvious, it gets downright ridiculous this week – at least half of his lines consist of some jealous insinuation that Kadowaki is into Takumi. This kid is downright catty, and if you take a drink for every time Mizugaki refers to Takumi as "princess," I am not liable for any resulting liver damage. Of course, Mizugaki is revealed to be battling (or batting) his own demon. The high schoolers are about to graduate, and Kadowaki is heading off to university on a baseball scholarship. Mizugaki doesn't seem to be going with him, so this looks like the end of his “relationship” with Kadowaki, which has him in an awful mood. He brags about having messed up Go to get to Takumi, and while nobody likes it, they also don't do anything about it. Meanwhile, he also arranges for a new match against the middle school team, to serve as a stupendous sendoff for Kadowaki's high school career.

I'm glad that the story has finally gotten moving. Mizugaki is an obvious foil to Go and his issues, showing us how that sweet kid might be turned sour. Like Go, Mizugaki is a more talented player's devoted assistant. But rather than just supporting his partner, Mizugaki has decided to undermine his perceived rivals, even if it's explicitly against Kadowaki's wishes. Ultimately, Mizugaki is acting selfishly because he feels inferior, investing all his self-esteem in an idealized version of Kadowaki. Go risks falling into this exact same pattern in his relationship with Takumi – and the people around him aren't helping. Coach Tomura speaks to him like he's already decided to quit the team, and while he eventually realizes the error in that thinking, he just leaves Go hanging after that conversation. The world really does not want Go to just play baseball for fun. Fortunately, their friends realize that Takumi and Go will never be happy until they're together, so they refuse to replace Go as catcher. Instead, they encourage a reconciliation between the two boys, leading me to think that this latest lovers' quarrel won't last too long.

Overall, the introduction of these high school characters has served as a step up for Battery the Animation. They're a consistent source of conflict that takes the focus away from Takumi's brattiness for a while. It's still exceedingly mild drama, but Battery is juggling multiple plot-balls now with some dexterity. The one downside of this episode is that no twelve year-olds punched each other, but I have faith that the trend will return. More than anything, I look forward to seeing how Battery develops its critiques of the Japanese educational system – which remains an undercurrent – and whether they're ever going to address the gay subtext. Do you think Atsuko Asano heard that “catcher” and “pitcher” are gay slang for tops and bottoms, so she built a thematically unrelated story around it? I feel like that could have happened.

Grade: B+

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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