And so, finally, it ends.
After six seasons, a movie, and of course almost two decades of the source manga, Major finally wraps with the special OVA, “Message” that was bundled with the last manga volume. And while nothing in the 24 minute special will change your life, it was completely true to the character of Goro Honda and the spirit of his story. If you’re a fan of either, I think it would be hard not to be a little moved by this OVA.
It would be easy enough to pick at the flaws in the story here – the obsession with “supporting his family” when Goro is surely rich after 14 superstar seasons in America. The hostile reaction from some of the fans in his comeback game, when in reality he would have been treated as a returning hero. But that would miss the larger point, because this isn’t a story grounded in realism. The subtitle of the manga is “Dramatic Baseball Comic” and that’s exactly what this is – a stylized baseball fantasy about a larger-than-life character who is both the cause of and at the center of miraculous and dramatic events.
Personally, I would love to see an entire season focused on Goro’s comeback as a batter – I always missed seeing that side of his game during all those seasons devoted to his pitching. But this OVA was a good sampler of it – and it’s poetical in its way, as that was the same course Goro’s Dad Shigeharu took. I love the fact that he was never forgotten in all the events of the story, hovering over them as a loving presence much as Wakaba did in Cross Game. The story is pretty straightforward – after 14 seasons in the Majors Goro’s left shoulder finally gave out, so he enters retirement with Kaoru and their two kids, Daigo and Izumi. Except… GAR-o, hero that he is, isn’t ready to give up – he wants to keep playing, this time in Japan as a fielder. And why not, as he was a spectacular batter as well as a pitcher his entire life. So he starts learning to throw with his still-weak right shoulder and begins training his tail off. But he keeps this a secret from the kids, as he doesn’t want them to see him playing anything less than real baseball. Daigo is a toddler and still in the hero-worship stage, but Izumi is old enough to wonder why Daddy doesn’t work – and why he spends so little time with her.
For all that, the best moments of the story are watching Goro working hard – weightlifting, training with old friend and now brother-in-law Taiga, and finally earning a spot on the Oceans through a tryout and spring training. It’s great that Taiga and my other favorite supporting character, Komori (now coaching the Dolphins) made their way into the OVA. The highlight, of course, was seeing Goro make it into a game and hitting a home run off the Oceans Stadium scoreboard, just like his father did. And in the process, open his children’s eyes to the wonders of baseball – and of their father’s will.
One last nice touch was having Goro’s seiyuu, Showtaro Morikubo, sing the final version of “Kokore E” over the end credits. The first OP is the last ED, which seems somehow fitting. I’d already adjusted to life without Major but now I get to miss it all over again. It’s worth it – this OVA was a really emotionally satisfying end to the saga. But it sure feels weird looking ahead to a year with no new stories for Goro – that’ll be the first one in a long time. Maybe it’s time to re-watch the first season again…