Battery the Animation
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Battery the Animation ?
How would you rate episode 6 of
Battery the Animation ?
As of these two most recent episodes of Battery, it looks like we're gearing up to play some actual baseball. But first, we have to deal with something even more exciting – schools covering up crimes perpetrated by students.
Jealous of Takumi's sudden rise to prominence on the team, bespectacled upperclassman Eiji Nobunishi assaults him one day after practice. When this is brought to the administration's attention, it turns out that they'd prefer to sweep the incident under the rug than discipline Eiji. And adding insult to injury, they want to cancel the team's participation in an upcoming tournament. Allegedly, this is to prevent word of what happened from spreading, but functionally, it punishes the team for trying to make a fuss about what happened. As a third-year who worked his way up to becoming a starting player, Eiji resents this young upstart who immediately obtained everything he worked so hard for. While Coach Tomura ultimately switched over to Takumi's side, Japan's “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down” policy continues to target this prodigious (if insolent) young man.
While episode 5 dealt with the assault and its immediate aftermath, episode 6 was about how our two leads get around the ban, as well as their ultimate confrontation with Eiji. It turns out that Eiji and Takumi aren't all that different – they both treat baseball as a means to end and care little about their actual enjoyment of the activity. However, this means that they risk falling into despair when their commitment doesn't reap the rewards that they expect. Eiji played to bolster his resume, and that only mattered as long as he was a standout player on the team. The arrival of a freshman prodigy jeopardized that and made him desperate to defend what his due. It didn't help that Coach Tomura grilled him hard on the value of teamwork, de-emphasizing the individual players only to throw that out the window for Takumi. In quitting the team, Eiji seems to be breaking down, and it's a dark harbinger for what could happen to Takumi if (or when) the values he's placed so much trust in stop rewarding him. Takumi values his exceptional talent, and things are going to get bad when he realizes that won't necessarily set him up for life.
In the meantime, Takumi gets around the restrictions against playing with the help of a teammate, who agrees that the entire situation is unfair and slips him the key to the practice area. While Coach Tomura can't change the principal's mind about the tournament, he does manage to arrange an exhibition match between his team and another more highly-ranked school. This is their excuse for some serious practice, a chance to show off Takumi's skills and test him out against the other school's celebrated batter, an older boy named Kadowaki. At the same time, Takumi solidifies his allegiance with Tomura, vowing to give him the chance to coach a team at nationals. The transition has been rough, but Takumi managed to garner some allies at this new school. It's also nice to see Takumi relying on someone without complaining. He's been a real brat about accepting help (and in general really), so it was good to see him running to Go for care after the assault. I have to wonder why he's so distant from his parents, though. Will the show address this, or is this strange lack of intervention in a child's life just Battery's weird standard for parenting? What everyday twelve-year-old doesn't tell their folks about how they got gagged and whipped in a storage shed after school one day?
We also got a new ending sequence, which is neat. While the show hardly looks bad, the opening and endings (done in character designer Takako Shimura's distinctive style) are visual standouts that make me wish the entire show was done in this style. Still, the main series' production is hardly a slouch. The direction is as low-key as everything else about the show, but it's still solid, and I particularly like the way they use the mountain setting (particularly its lighting) to emphasize a scene's emotional content. There's some excellent use of shadows to frame a shot, and a varied color palette in what otherwise could be a monotonous slate of locations. Battery the Animation continues to be naturalistic in both its drama and production, depicting intense – if commonplace – adolescent struggles in a realistic way.
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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