"If I'm up there on that mound, I'm gonna give it my all, no matter who we're up against." - Mihashi
Big Windup is an anime and manga series that followed high school pitcher Mihashi and the Nishiura baseball team. We have next to no interest in baseball (or any team sports in real life), but this series kickstarted our love for sports anime. Through watching the characters struggle to improve themselves, work together, cheer one another on, deal with successes and failures, and come together as a team during their games, we found it to be a very heartwarming series. We even found that we learned quite a bit about baseball, such as what a squeeze play was, walking a player, and just how much thought and strategy goes into each and every pitch and moment of the game. We haven't read the manga, but after watching the anime we felt we had a much better appreciation and respect for the sport.
Mihashi was a very interesting character and watching him battle his crippling anxiety and self doubt to continue to play the game he loved so much was inspiring. Despite his insecurities and bad experiences as a pitcher in middle school, he still put himself out there to join the team in high school. When he was finally on a team that put value in him as a player and a person, Mihashi was able to shine as the ace and slowly but surely start to believe that he did have worth to the team. Through the two seasons he initially found comfort and strength by relying on Abe's signs, but eventually found through pitching to Tajima that it was okay to use his own judgment so the battery could work together as equals. It was interesting to watch Mihashi's struggles, such as how a text from Abe could send him into a tailspin of worry and imagined scenarios, but he just kept going and pushing forward, and that showed true strength of character.
I really enjoyed the psychology that went on in the games and how they learned to strengthen their minds as well as hone their athletic skills. There was even a scene where they all realized that having a runner on third base was when they would be overcome by nerves in a game, and they were able to use that by visualizing that feeling and turning it into a mantra to calm themselves. They meditated before games and learned to be more receptive to what their teammates were feeling so they could make better decisions in the moment. Even when the team lost a game, what they learned from each experience was even more valuable then winning in the long run.
The characters were all very interesting and I enjoyed watching them work together and learn how to best utilize their individual strengths and talents. I liked how the other players could be so gentle with Mihashi (Tajima in particular would rush to his defense in an instant), but how they still found themselves frustrated and not able to understand what was going on in Mihashi's mind. Abe found himself blowing up quite often at the pitcher, so much that the other characters would comment on it, and Abe had to force himself reevaluate his approach. He had control issues due to his past experiences as a catcher and slowly had to realize that he had to give a little for the team to play their best. In turn, Mihashi had to understand and accept that his team relied on him and that his contributions weren't useless.
The only complaint I had with this series was the length of the baseball games. A single inning could span multiple episodes, and although the games could be gripping at times (such as when Nishiura walked the other team or when their signs were interpreted), it could be a little excessively long. Another thing we noticed when watching season 2 was that we didn't know all of the names of the team members who were not focused on as much. Nevertheless, the team as a whole was really sweet and we loved the moments that really brought them together, such as when they all wrote down their goals for the future of the team, Hamada started a cheerleading squad, or when several of them visited Mihashi for lunch and bonded over their win.
Big Windup was a really fun series that I enjoyed very much, and the reactions and facial expressions of Mihashi never got old. We watched the dub of season 1 and then when season 2 was only released as a sub, we weren't sure if that would affect our enjoyment since the characters wouldn't sound like we were used to. It ended up not mattering at all and we loved the sub just as much as the dub, and we found that the original portrayal of Mihashi was even more adorable and endearing in the sub. The show could be really exciting at times - when we'd plan on only watching an episode or two we'd end up watching episode after episode because we had to know what was going to happen next!
||Hanai, Tajima, Mihashi
||After One Win
||After One Win, Because I'm The Ace, We Start Again
||Mihashi/Abe, Hanai/Tajima, Mihashi and Tajima
||Tajima and Mihashi, Abe/Mihashi