What They Say
Swing For The Fences! Hot off the heels of their first win, the players of Nishiura High School are fired up for the rest of the summer tournament! Their next opponent, Sakitama High, has an incredibly strong batter. If Nishiura wants any chance of winning, Nishiura will need a quick shutout win! This should be doable for Mihashi and Abe since they continue to make a great battery, but at the same time, could Mihashi’s reliance on Abe’s signaling spell trouble in the games to come?
Hits and sprints, pains and sprains… Mihashi and team have quite a struggle ahead of them if they want to play on the legendary field of Koshien Stadium!
The audio presentation for this series is one that’s certainly different from the previous season that Funimation released as we only get the original Japanese language for obvious reasons. The series is fairly simple with its audio design in the original Japanese stereo mix, encoded at 192kbps, as it works through the dialogue and minor action sequences with the actual moments of the game and practices. It’s not meant to be an overly strong mix, but it really works nicely with the subtle moments and the overall atmosphere. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The fourteen episodes we get for this series are spread across three discs in a five/five/four configuration. The show has some really strong animation to it and the transfer really captures it well with hardly any significant problems to it. Outside of some minor noise in a few scenes with some solid colors, Big Windup really looks good here. The quality of the animation really shines through with smooth fluid motions and some very lush colors when it comes to the background designs. This is a very pleasing transfer overall and should make fans of the show very happy.
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized DVD case that holds two of the discs on a hinge and the third against the interior wall. The front cover is a fun one as we get most of the team running along together with some big smiles on their faces and it’s pretty infectious to watch as they move, especially combined with the bright uniforms and the soft earth tones of the baseball field. With the logo kept simple but really nicely themed along the lower right, all the focus is on the cast and it just makes me smile. The back cover expands the field a bit more while on top of it we get a lot of really great sized images from the show and a look at the premise with a good summary of it. The episodes included are broken out so we know we get the OVA as well as listing the extras. The technical grid may be a bit smaller along the bottom with what it offers but it hits all the necessary points. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release work a simple but effective approach as we get a standard 65/35 split in the layout. The left side uses different character artwork pieces of the main characters across each disc with a very vibrant and appealing Mihashi image on the first disc that just stands out well. The right side goes with the brown of the baseball field itself as the background and it has the simple navigation material here with a basic font. The logo below it takes up a lot of space but it looks great and adds the right kind of themed element here. It also lists which disc it is and that can be more helpful than you realize sometimes. Submenus load quickly and easily for what little you’ll need them and the whole thing is a straightforward and problem-free experience with the right trappings to get you in the mood for the show..
The extras for this release includes the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
It’s been seven years since I first saw and reviewed the first season of the series and it’s taken a hell of a long time to get the second season. But it’s damn worth it. Based on the ongoing manga from Asa Higuchi that began back in 2003 and has twenty-seven volumes so far, the second season of Big Windup landed in 2010 with just a single cour after the first season was a two-cour run. It did thankfully bring back the main production team along with the cast so we have some solid continuity there that doesn’t feel like it misses a bit. Well, unless you’re a fan of the dub that the first season had that couldn’t be done here. While I would have loved to have had a dub produced for this I totally get why it’s unfeasible. Considering how few sports series are brought over in general…
The single cour aspect of this season is something that works fairly well because you know that it’s not going to go on too long with any particular game, at least to some degree. We essentially get two games that are played here of any real length with a couple of smaller pieces thrown in, some of which is done as a montage that just makes you laugh because of the way the show can spend its time. Focus six episodes on a couple of innings of one game, whip through a couple of games in under a minute. But the point of the show isn’t the games writ large or anything but rather the smaller moments, the nuance and details of the game, and the growth of the characters. And even there it’s mostly focused just on Mihashi and Abe with the rest of the team playing solid supporting roles. This season gives us a little more time with the parents as well, having some of them show up in the stands to root for their kids. And believe me, that was simply wonderful to see.
The early arc we get here after dealing with some catch-up time such as practices and the slow growth of a potential cheerleading squad mostly involves the Sakitama team. Mihashi and the others do get to watch them play for a bit and vice versa with the Bijou team later and I like how they get into analyzing the other teams, talking strengths and weaknesses, and coming up with the right approach to play. It’s often easy to underestimate the strategy involved in playing baseball but there’s a whole lot of data and details to take in. I was always impressed with shows like Prince of Tennis and Baby Steps that focused on that side of it. Big Windup doesn’t dive deep but it has a bit more than a superficial look at it so you can see how some like Abe have to deal with watching everything going on in the field so that he can keep Mihashi focused where he needs to be.
Mihashi continues to be a bit frustrating in some regards but utterly adorable in others. He’s growing slowly but surely here as he continues to play, often while not realizing how important he is to the team because of his self worth issues. Abe is building him up piece by piece but even he realizes he’s forgetting things along the way; the whole sidebar about how Mihashi never shook his head no for a pitch brings back just how poorly he was treated in middle school. For Mihashi, he’s just so eager to please in general and more so with Abe as time goes on because of how Abe treats him that it can look like a puppy dog kind of thing. But that adorableness is problematic at times because he’s not gaining some of the strength, independence, and confidence he needs to move to the next level of being a pitcher. Abe’s recognizing that and I like that we start to see some of the small steps being taken to correct that.
The bulk of the set focuses on the game with Bijou and those who saw the first season know how long this can get. Yet when you can marathon it you find yourself able to get into quite easily because of all the movements, understandings, and the tricks and the trade that are employed. The team is one that I continue to like to watch because they have talent but they’re still unformed overall. They have a few more seasons to really grow and become something more and the games are a big part of that but the smaller episodes, the team camaraderie pieces like the 12.5 episode here, those go a long way toward really doing some great stuff. I can imagine this playing a bit more in the manga but what we get in the anime is pretty strong. Watching the highs and lows of the kids as they win some and lose some is very inspiring.
It may have taken too long for my tastes but I’m just glad to have finally seen more of Big Windup. It’s unfortunate the show didn’t do better over here so that we didn’t have to wait so long and it’s unfortunate that the manga is the type that will almost certainly never get a pickup here as I’d love to know more of the story of this team. Nozomi Entertainment has done a solid job in bringing this over as I have no complaints at all about it and simply enjoyed the experience through and through. With a great looking show, some fantastic baseball, and the kind of nuance and detail that’s missing from far too many shows, Big Windup is the kind of series that a lot of sports fans will enjoy immensely.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 1st, 2016
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.