Final Innings, Let’s take a time-out
It wasn’t until this season that I found myself enjoying a whole bunch of anime. Hitherto I’ve only been investing myself into 3-4 shows in a given season, which is why I’m quite elated at how Summer 2016 turned out. To name a few: we’ve got ourselves Orange, which concluded on a fairly sweet note, Mob Psycho 100, which was a blast from start to finish, and 91 Days and Amanchu! are both great shows on their own. Not to mention Planetarian, Amaama to Inazuma, and, hell, even Bananya had its fair share of the spotlight. However, to the handful of you who watched Battery, you might be wondering where it fits into my post-season rankings.
Battery had quite an impact during my mid-season viewing, and I was thoroughly impressed at how it managed to fare against the rest of this season’s hotcakes. I was eager to see how the rest of the show pans out after having an overall positive opinion of it. Looking back, however, the nagging issue which I pointed out last time about Battery being subversive to its viewers reared its ugly head more than ever in its last 3-4 episodes. Now, to address this issue, we’ll have to understand first what Battery truly is. Take note, I’m not ruling out Battery as is, but I’m simply implying that there is more to it than meets the eye. It’s just that we have to be aware of the multiple layers in how Battery is presented in order to fully enjoy the show.
Strike One! // A good curve ball
Time to practice your swings because we’re about to hit a curve ball, boys. Albeit the backdrop uses baseball as a frame to support the narrative, Battery isn’t what I would call a good baseball anime. Again, to view Battery as a sports/baseball anime first and foremost may leave viewers with a bad taste in their mouth, as the baseball elements of this show are merely in service to the substance of its themes and messages. Regardless of the lack of baseball material present in this anime, it still shouldn’t be held against the show itself; we have to take into account what it does with this aspect, and how well it weaves baseball into its structure.
It turns out that Battery is indeed a story of growing up gay and how society reacts to it. In fact, the subtle innuendos aren’t… subtle at all. Reddit user TheHaruWhoCanRead made a great analysis of Battery‘s underlying narrative. I recommend reading the article, as it perfectly explores what I felt was missing in how I perceived Battery.
There is a duality within this show, offering us different ways on how we can digest its message. It’s a coming of age story, with Takumi learning to come to terms with his surroundings through baseball. At the same time, it’s also tackling LGBT issues, all in one single stroke. Or, you can enjoy it as a boys love/yaoi show if you’re into that. Of course, Battery can still be watched through either of the two (or three) views, but, to reiterate, keeping both interpretations in mind is the best way of enjoying the show.
Strike Two! // Swinging the other way
I briefly mentioned in my mid-season review that Battery feels like it’s doing a wink wink nudge nudge to LGBT issues. I shrugged this gesture off because I can still watch the show as is — a coming of age, non-LGBT story. Part of why I disregarded Battery‘s LGBT layer is because I simply do not have the necessary experience to point out that “hey, pitching is actually a double entendre for sex!”. To tell you the truth, Battery is the first BL anime I’ve watched. And I watched it without me knowing what the it really is.
Regardless, it does make sense for Battery to have a dual nature in its narrative. I’ve been asking myself what the point is of having this kind of presentation. The most reasonable answer I can come up with is that it was probably meant to show us that LGBTs go through the same dilemmas as straight people — only harsher. Alternatively, perhaps stacking the coming of age layer on top of the LGBT layer was meant to let the viewers experience for themselves how difficult it is to be shunned by society just because you’re gay.
Let’s take an example. Takumi being called out for his long hair is an allusion for being too feminine and society’s disapproval. This is how it is interpreted in the LGBT layer. In contrast, I can also interpret it on a more personal level. I grew up in a strict private high-school, where having a buzz haircut was mandatory. Thanks to how Battery is presented, I can at least sympathize with Takumi, even though I’m straight myself.
Strike Three! // A home run or not?
Suffice to say, I still feel a bit ambivalent about this show. Sure, it’s evident that my enjoyment towards the second half fell in comparison to the first. However, I have to say that I do appreciate Battery for what it did at the end of the day. After all, we rarely get to have a show that has this kind of style to deliver.
Battery may be a hit or a miss to some due to it being thrown in a curveball. I, for one, was totally confused at what’s happening during the second half of the show. The later episodes are heavy on dialogue which makes no sense if you’re not aware of its true nature. Though, I feel like it didn’t really do a great job in riding the waves the first half made. It was kinda anti-climatic to have everything resolved through character dialogues, when the preamble showed promise of something big. I have this feeling that Battery has something more to tell from its scheme of things even though its messages are aptly conveyed.
It’s actually kinda funny that I have no justifiable way to know whether it’s a good anime or not. It has a boys love/yaoi undercurrent running which prevents me from judging it on a fair basis. Imagine a joke shared amongst a group of people. Everyone is laughing, but this one guy is just smiling absently. It doesn’t mean that the joke — in this case Battery — is bad because it didn’t make everyone laugh. It’s just that the joke didn’t quite hit the right buttons for everyone.
In retrospect, the fact that Battery is my first BL/yaoi anime made it more memorable than it’s supposed to be. I’ll probably be looking back to this anime just in case I stumble upon a show that has a similar style and/or genre. Perhaps once I have an ample supply of words to describe such a show, I’ll see Battery in a better light.
I’m rather glad I gave this show a shot. Pizza is great regardless of its flavor. Same goes with anime. Anime is great regardless of its genre. BL/yaoi isn’t an exception, though it’s one flavor I probably won’t indulge in for a while.