The dream of Tamao Azukida is to join Hakuo Gakuin, a baseball team among baseball teams. A baseball team so good because they recruit only the best of the best players, and so competition to get on is notoriously fierce. Azu’s trained and studied for years now in order to land himself a spot on the team, but none of it matters when he doesn’t make the cut. He barely gets the time to sulk about it, though, because a player he meets at the try-outs, with an amazing pitch, asks him if he wants to create the greatest baseball team in history.
The Ballin’ Tactics:
Baseball seems like a pathetically straightforward sport. You swing a bat, hit a ball. Not much more to it than running and catching balls. But a metric ton of analytical work goes into how Azu approaches the sport, eyeballing the minutest details of players’ styles and habits and using their weaknesses against them. It’s the usual emphasis on tactics common in the medium, but it engages you in the thousand vectors that make or break a team.
The Pointless Chapters:
Every now and then, the series spits out a chapter that, frankly, is a total waste of 19 pages. For instance, in order to recruit a batter, the main cast have to bend over backwards to cover shifts for his family’s toy store, but then his father shows up and goes, “I can run the store just fine,” and invalidates their tough compromises. Not only does it erase potential drama-stirring hiccups, it’s like the story’s openly retconning itself.
The whole gimmick of what should’ve been the first arc was recruiting untapped talent, but after the second recruit, two random dimbos show up, and Azu accepts them onto the team without a second thought. It’d be detrimental for the series to chew up too much time filling out a team, but the same care and effort should be applied across the board for each individual player to sell the idea that Azu’s assembling history’s next great baseball team and not just accepting first applicants.
I liked this manga, but it fell slightly too far into its shortcomings and seemed to run out of in-game tactics by its end. It was also lacking in a certain oomph that kept it from rising, as well as only explained the sport so well. This manga was a good hit but was no home run.