Battery Mid-season Overview
Following a well-rounded premier, Battery continues to be engaging throughout its innings. It’s a bit unfortunate to say, however, that popularity isn’t on the side of this gem. Lurking around online communities — Reddit and 4chan to name a couple — yielded far less active discussions than the rest of the anime this season are getting. That’s not to say that Battery is doing bad. In fact, it’s proving to be quite a contender for my Summer ’16 Top 5 list!
Mind you, this season is stacked with great titles, and Battery deserves the same recognition for good reason. If you haven’t started with any of the shows yet, or if you’re simply looking for more anime to watch, you can check our spoiler free Summer 2016 First Impressions here! If you’re curious enough and would like to give this show a shot, then you can take a look at my First Impressions of Battery. Spoiler free, too, of course.
Strike One! // The Good
I’ve seen comments and reviews saying that Battery feels too Japanese, they find it hard to relate to the characters, or they find it hard to digest why a 12-year old is acting like a 12-year old. This is understandable given that Battery is somewhat a social-commentary on the Japanese’s tradition on seniority and standards, something that isn’t widely present outside their country.
Battery‘s underwhelming reception is more about the nature of the show itself rather than the actual presentation. There are titles that have promising premises and themes, only to fail at executing them in the long-run; then there are those that has a simple synopsis, and still manage to surprise you at how good it actually is. Battery falls under the latter, though, you may be asking why it isn’t getting more viewers when it’s good.
First, let’s establish what the positive stuff is, then we’ll move on to what I feel is lacking.
Going against the flow
Do what your sempai tells you. All right. Respect and obey the elderly. Of course. Seniority above performance. Understood. These are just a couple of underpinnings we can draw from Battery‘s theme, and it’s apparent that Battery is an anime about a boy struggling to cope with his surroundings, rather than an actual baseball show. I did mention before that the baseball elements will simply be a supporting pillar for the narrative, and that’s exactly what we’re getting.
If you tell Takumi, our obnoxious protagonist, that his sempai’s words are absolute, he’ll probably give you a blank stare in reply. If you tell him to respect and obey the elderly, he’ll probably shrug you off, nod, then go back to whatever he is doing. If you remind him that the upperclassmen has to be in the starting line-up, you won’t be surprised if he throws a 140kph fastball at you, as if saying screw that. Takumi has been overbearing these past episodes, and there are moments where I have to cringe and frown at what I’m seeing simply because it’s a striking and realistic depiction of someone who is getting pushed to follow a set of rules, a set of standards, a set of expectations, without considering what his feelings are.
This facet of Battery‘s narrative has been engaging, finding the balance between an over-dramatic tone and a grounded perspective. The characters are complicated not to the point of impracticality, but rather it’s precisely because of their indecisions and flaws that makes them seem human. I’m not saying that being abrasive is a commendable way to grow up. It’s just that if we limit the characters based on the implications of their actions, then we’re basically limiting them with our own standards.
Presentation and execution
We’re halfway through the season and it’s usually at this point wherein technical qualities will show signs of decline. Surprisingly, Battery feels like it’s immune to this. The visuals has been crisp, smooth, and even had that moment in episode 6 wherein I got goose-bumps from seeing Takumi throw a real fastball. The pacing is even-handed, not too eager on moving to the next plot point, nor does it drag a confrontation for far too long.
I feel like both of these are important qualities in keeping us hooked on Battery. For a show that heavily relies on realistic character interaction and development, drawing you into their world is an important factor for keeping an audience engrossed. An example of what I think is a great way they convey a natural sense of tension is Takumi and Tomura’s heated exchange in Episode 6. As the mood becomes bleaker, the tension is pulled taut by the change in weather. Initially, it was cloudy, then as the dispute between Takumi and Tomura reaches the climax, rain pours down. Takumi concludes with a riposte of his own, followed by an eerie flash of lightning.
It’s important to remember that Battery is an adaptation of a novel, and it’s thanks to Mochizuki Tomomi’s (director of The House of Five Leaves) creative touch that the imagery became so on-point even through a different medium. The above example is one of the many instances wherein the show will captivate you with their world, regardless if it’s a squabble or a heartfelt moment between friends.
Strike Two! // The Bad
To be honest, I’m enjoying Battery so much right now that I can’t really find a chink in its armor I can use to criticize. As of this point, everything has been well above my expectations. However, if there’s one quip I would like to talk about, it’s that Battery can be too subversive to viewers which can cause loss in popularity or viewership.
You see, I feel like the majority of the audience came with the expectations that it’s going to be a baseball show — not a dramatic slice-of-life with baseball as a side-dish. I’m not saying that it’s nowhere near the audience’s fault to expect a heavy dose of sport on an anime entitled Battery. It’s just that the first episode gave hints of good, substantial baseball material, yet up until now, the real baseball hyped only kicked in half-way through the season. In fact, with the way things are going, I’m not even sure if we’ll actually get to watch a baseball match. To top it off, the homosexual undertones can be a cause for the audience to shy away from the narrative. Battery isn’t really direct about what it want to present to the viewers. Then again, that is not to say that it’s inherently a bad thing.
Strike Three! // Summary and Predictions
This first half felt like whiplash. Takumi and Go are at it again, with the former showing signs of distrust to his friend. The characters’ unpredictability is a huge factor to consider when it comes to gauging how Battery will pan out. Suffice to say, it has been one of the most consistently engaging slice-of-life drama shows airing this season. We’ve got 5 episodes left, and I’ve got my eyes glued on what’s going to happen next!
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