Tribe Nine
Episode 1-3

by Mercedez Clewis,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Tribe Nine ?
Community score: 3.6

How would you rate episode 2 of
Tribe Nine ?
Community score: 3.6

How would you rate episode 3 of
Tribe Nine ?
Community score: 3.6

When Tribe Nine the video game first got announced, I was hyped to say the least. I'm a fan of Kazutaka Kodaka, creator of the Danganronpa franchise, so getting my hands on yet another Kodaka property was, and still is, thrilling.

I think it's best to start with what Tribe Nine isn't: first and foremost, it's not serious. It probably won't have even half the message of Danganronpa. It's likely not going to hold a candle to Fall 2020's Akudama Drive, which had real bite in its social commentary, but was also just a wholly different show. This a world where Extreme Baseball decides turf wars, gang (or tribe, they're called in this series) disputes, and survival of the fittest all around Tokyo. It leans hard into the question “What if baseball was judge, jury, and executioner?”, but with a cyberpunk, hella cool color palette, no-bars held sports antics, and a bangin' soundtrack. Oh, and a theme song sung by everyone's favorite hottie MIYAVI and a banger of an ED by Void_Chords as well.

All this to say that this is why Tribe Nine is so great.

That brings us swingin' into the first two episodes, which are wholly a table-setting affair: we get to learn about this version of Tokyo and go balls to the wall (that's literal, not euphemistic y'all) for Extreme Baseball with our intrepid cast of characters. It's infodumps galore without ever being boring, and it achieves this by introducing the world through the lens of androgynous shy boy Haru and tuna fisherman Taiga, both of whom know next to nothing about the sport. This is largely because they're comparing it to baseball, which is a boring sport with rules, guidelines, and precautions put in place. You know, all the things that make sports safe, or something like that.

Except there are rules: XB (Extreme Baseball) is fun because it's not completely lawless. Rather, it allows for a lot of flexibility, including literal fights for the plate, transforming bats, and all manner of trickery, in order to defeat each tribe in Tokyo's wards. By the end of episode 2, it's very clear that XB is a game where pride is on the line, and that by playing with the rules, you can excel and find your place within the upper echelons of the game. It's actually the central message of episode 2, buttoning up the less action-oriented A-side of the plot before flipping to the much more deadly B-side where a mysterious mask figure wallops players left and right.

Episode 3, “A Real Enemy," is where Tribe Nine starts to up the ante in the form of one-man army Ojiro, who firmly believes XB is a joke, utilizing it to crush the will of Tokyo's tribes, one inning at a time… if they can survive, that is. It's the show's first taste of plot, and it's so utterly dramatic that you kind of just accept everything, even the fact that evil hot boy Ojiro shows up in a Bane-esque mask. Then again, the mask is pretty metal, fitting in perfectly in this world, especially since he throws balls hard enough to kill. The episode is full of high-octane sequences paired with nice animation and intense organ music, complete with Haru, Taiga, and Tokyo's best player (and Komaeda Nagito lookalike) Kamiya Shun bringing their A-game.

Of course, episode 3 ends on a cliffhanger, but also sets up Tribe Nine for a dynamic revolution. It's unexpected in the best of ways, largely because I love a redemption arc and am thirsty to see the Minato Tribe rise up like a baseball-playing phoenix from the ashes. It helps that it's a gorgeous show, full of Kodaka flavor thanks to Too Kyo Game's involvement. That said, LIDEN FILMS isn't slacking off: the animation is smooth, and when the action kicks in, it's downright gorgeous, stuffed to the brim with neon colors, stellar camera work, and originality. It makes for one of the most over-the-top sports anime I've ever seen; it's BNA: Brand New Animal's baseball episode turned up to eleven, which is saying something.

At the end of the day, Tribe Nine is here to have fun: it's a show wholly focused on a dark, comedic extreme taken to the nth degree, but it's also a show about genuinely having fun for real, and taking the act of fun and play seriously. The comedy is entirely subjective, though it's just the thing to make me guffaw multiple times an episode. Come for the XB, stay for the XB, but leave your expectations at the door: this is a show best enjoyed when you come along for the wild ride and let yourself get swept up in the nonsensical plot.

Rating:

Tribe Nine is currently streaming on Funimation.

Mercedez is a JP-EN translation and localization Editor & Proofreader/QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who, when not writing for ANN, writes for Anime Feminist, where she's a staff editor, and for But Why Tho?. She's also a frequent cohost on the Anime Feminist Podcast, Chatty AF. This season, she's reflecting on her youth with Akebi's Sailor Uniform. When she's not writing and reviewing, you can find her on her Twitter or on her Instagram where she's always up to something.


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