Battery the Animation
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Battery the Animation ?
How would you rate episode 11 of
Battery the Animation ?
Battery the Animation enters its final stretch with Takumi's character arc basically complete. As a result, these two episodes amount to a tour of different characters acknowledging how much the baseball brat has grown, as he reinforces his newfound contentment with his current position in life. The remaining drama came from developments in Kadowaki and Mizugaki's relationship, which continues to be dysfunction junction. The show ends without revealing much about the characters' futures, but with an adequate capstone to its theme of allowing children to enjoy their childhoods.
We open on Takumi sharing a pastoral rooftop moment with Go, where he announces that all he wants to do is enjoy the present moment without worrying about the future. Go agrees – in fact, their previous stress over achievement now baffles him. In spite of the plateau in his skills, it's evident that Takumi has matured as a person. He's shed his previous laser-like focus on the prospect of a professional baseball career. He doesn't even break a sweat over his performance in the upcoming rematch against Kadowaki anymore. Last time, he placed so much importance on the match that it broke his ego when it didn't go perfectly. Even his grandpa notices that Takumi has chilled out. The question now is whether his pitching – which grew more powerful but clumsy following his emotional growth spurt – can catch up. As the big day looms, coaches and teammates express their doubts, but Takumi and Go remain committed to their status as a battery team. The two have developed enough faith in one another to weather these rough patches.
At the same time, rival upperclassman Mizugaki continues to spew venom at everyone within his reach. Living within a situation that mirrors Go's relationship with Takumi has given Mizugaki a nasty inferiority complex. Now that it looks like he and his co-dependent partner Kadowaki must part ways, the full extent of Mizugaki's sadomasochism has been unleashed. It seems he's rejected his own baseball scholarship purely out of spite. He also tells Kadowaki that he's always hated him, a situation that remains unresolved by the end of the episode. Mizugaki calms down a little by the end, after Kadowaki reassures him that the admiration is mutual, but this kid's problems are still far from dealt with. For these two, it's a bittersweet ending at best, leaving them as an inverted Takumi/Go, a pair whose unresolved frustrations with one another nearly ruin their friendship and love of the sport. As our heroes have grown, their rivals have decayed. This reveals what Battery values in relationships – straightforwardness and emotional honesty. Living in this situation for a long time has turned Mizugaki into a master of emotional duplicity and manipulation. That makes him a good lackey for Kadowaki, so long as those frustrations are repressed. But when that house of card falls, it falls hard.
In the end, Battery concludes without revealing whether Takumi or Kadowaki triumphs in their final conflict. That's because it doesn't matter and never has – this one pitch doesn't determine their futures, and the possibility of loss shouldn't interfere with their love of the game. Takumi is in a strong relationship based on mutual trust, while Kadowaki's has only made its first teetering baby steps toward the possibility of recovery. Even then, their futures are far from set in stone, so they should stop putting off their enjoyment of the present for the sake of that future. Both of these prodigious players at least seem to have learned that lesson.
Battery the Animation has made its way to the finish line with the energy of a geriatric trying to parallel park. While far from a bad show, it's a mild and slow-paced experience about tweens and their annoying tween feelings. It's realistic in its depiction of those feelings and contains a good message - it's just not really what most audiences want from an anime. This was clearly adapted from the Japanese equivalent of a Newbery-award winning children's novel in the vein of something like Bridge to Terabithia or Because of Winn-Dixie. This sets it apart from most sports anime (which tend to be suspenseful, emotionally heightened, and place a lot of importance on the outcome of games) in a way that doesn't support much of an audience. In all of Battery's eleven episodes, they never play a single game to completion, so Haikyuu! this ain't.
The production was consistently nice yet never a draw on its own. It concludes well enough thematically, although I suspect that the original story continued past this point in some way. Overall, Battery succeeds in its narrative goals – low-key adolescent pastoralism that I can't see appealing to many people as elementary school required reading in anime form. If that piques your interest, more power to you. The show is even admirable in its decision to address social issues like Japan's toxic conformist culture in a critical way. I just need more stuff happening in my entertainment, occasional tween-punching aside. Ah well. At least there were lines like, “they say your catcher is like your wife.” Even in this supremely naturalistic work, the BL streak in boys' sports show is impossible to suppress.
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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