I’m a sucker for slice-of-life stories, and this one was no exception (especially because it also contained action and romance = ++fav). The (not-so) subtle references to the past gave the anime a nice emotional aura to it (in fact, some scenes were so subtly emotional that I teared). Being my first sports-related anime, I found it to be surprisingly interesting, with a lot of suspense and excitement, particularly during the baseball matches. I was not content with the ending (but I won’t spoil that for you). I felt that it was rushed… especially the some-what cliche romance at the end. I was also a bit let down with the 160k/hr fastball pitch as I was expecting a MUCH more exhilarating execution. Pity.
At the beginning of the first episode, I was a bit put off by the character design (majorly monkey-like ears), but the less appealing features gradually wore off during the anime (slight inconsistency by the animators?) and the classic designs started to grow on me (even that of Mizuki Asami, whom I initally disliked because of his very similar features to the main male character Kou Kitamura). Development of the personae was impeccably done and so you end up loving even the minor characters. As I mentioned before, I was not entirely happy with the romance at the end. It left me puzzled as to why the mains thought the way they did, e.g. why she said he was ‘the most hateful person’. Bad subbing? I doubt it… SubSmith did a pretty good job… (though ANBU was better, pity they only subbed the beginning eps) Reckon I’ll have to rewatch that last episode to fully understand.
The clean subtlety-ness of the art enabled the watcher to focus on the story, instead of getting distracted by itty-bitty-irrelevant stuff in the background. Not much to say about the background designs, evidently because they weren’t the standout feature. The ‘omg’ factor was in fact the depiction of the baseball players. Despite keeping to the simple character design, the mangaka (Mitsuru Adachi) was still able to superbly portray their physical movements and that was an essential part to the anime.
The OPs and EDs suited the anime very well. However, by far, the best song in the series was ‘Koi Kogartete Mita Yume’ by Ayaka. Slow-paced and sweet, even though I don’t understand japanese, the melody made me reminisce about the past… and cross game, of course.
Without doubt, this is by far one of the best animes that I’ve seen in a long time. Being a huge fan of Rumiko Takahashi’s works (i.e. InuYasha, Ranma 1/2), having similar character designs to her definitely put Mitsuru Adachi on the must-watch list, and now that I’ve seen his work, I can safely say that he’s also entered the fav-mangaka list as well.
[Side Note: this is my first ever anime review… i promise to refine my skills~ (b)]