Battery – 06

Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed with Battery this week.

It seems fitting for a series with this one’s title that an assault and battery should prove the pivot (with apologies to Mr. Trump) point, but it strongly seems as if that’s the case.  What Nobunishi and his henchmen did to Takumi last week redefined the entire first half of this series and framed the story.  Takumi may be, as his coach calls him, an insufferable brat.  He may, as his mother ruefully declares, leave his adoring otouto so starved for attention that he turns into an eager puppy whenever Gou is present.  He may, as Nobunishi accuses, never have dreamed about his team winning a crucial game.  But what Nobunishi did mooted all of that – it was an act of savage cowardice and cruelty that placed everything else into perspective.

That’s why I find this episode to be a bit of a letdown.  We have a long way to go with Battery, but if last week’s ep felt like a defiant accusation against all that’s rigid and perverse about schoolboy baseball and Japanese child-rearing, this week felt as if it was, if not a surrender, at least a retrenchment.  Rather than a challenge against what was wrong it was an acceptance that it is what it is, and in the end there’s not all that much that can be done about it.  But as I said, we have a long way to go so I’m not going to give up hope that was only a strategic retreat.

One thing I know for sure – any scenario where Nobunishi is invited back to join the team is certainly out of whack.  Simply put, that shouldn’t happen.  Even if you set aside the sheer brutality and meanness of what Nobunishi did to Takumi specifically, he also screwed his own team royally.  It was his actions that got them suspended from official activities and banned from the Spring Tournament.  This is entirely his fault (well, I’ll spare a little blame for the coach for letting it happen) – not Takumi’s for being the victim, not Sawaguchi for telling the truth.  Nobunishi shouldn’t even have the option to come back, never mind have the coach and captain beg him to stay.  Hell, he should have been expelled.

But this is Japan, so of course we get what we got here. That’s probably how it would play out in real life, but I’m disappointed to see Battery accept that reality without more of a fight.  On the upside, it seems as if we’re finally going to get a game of baseball in this baseball anime (I know it’s a baseball anime because it’s in the tags).  That’s the part of this that rings true – what everybody really wants most is just to play baseball.  Takumi and Gou want to play 140 kph catch, Tomura-sensei wants to watch it happen, Kaionji wants to have one more bite of the apple before he has to retire.

The problem, of course, is that the tournament is over and there’s really no more baseball to be played for the duration of the third-years’ middle school careers.  But the coach as a plan – try and get a practice match with powerhouse Yokote middle school, the district champions.  Truthfully he has no idea how to do that, and the scumbag principal says a quintessentially Japanese thing to him – “The baseball team doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to Nitta Middle School.”  But Kainoji has a plan – he’s befriended the Yokote captain, Kadowaki Shuugo (Ono Yuuki).  Kaionji teases the “once in ten years talent” Kadowaki-kun with tales of Takumi’s 140 kph (a very good high-schooler’s velocity) fastball, figuring if the first-year can strike him out Kadowaki will be the type to want revenge.

Kadowaki has other ideas, but he sees enough to be interested – so I think it’s  a strong bet that game is going to happen, and soon.  That’ll be interesting to see, but I’d also like to see some development with Seiha, who’s largely been abandoned by the plot after a very strong start.  But the OP and both EDs certainly seem to suggest that was not a mirage (and a whole lot of unsettling imagery suggests there’s more to play out here), so I hope we’ll see some movement on that front before Battery is done.  In terms of the character side of the story, Seiha’s relationship with Takumi and Gou is the most engaging part of the story.

ED2: 若者のすべて (All the Young People) by anderlust

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17 comments

  1. J

    I agree that Battery seems to have taken a step back from its social commentary. I’d also want to add I feel the way the show treats the mom character always seems to be taking the show a step further away from being a complex show. I couldn’t understand why her actions are treated as ignorant and wrong when they were perfectly reasonable “mom” worries. While previous episodes were realistic, this episode was incomprehensible. She tries comforting her son and unintentionally spooks him by touching his shoulder, and she is chided by the sagely grandpa as if to say “you will never understand me, your son, and this brotherhood that is baseball” – which to me, his quote was teetering on absurdity. I mean, give her some credit!

  2. Yeah, the way the story characterises Takumi’s mum is a sore point for me. I actually find most of her concerns valid, and it bothers me when the plot treats her like an unreasonable old hag. Granted, the story is told from Takumi’s point of view and he’s at that age where youngsters perceive three-quarters of what their parents say as incessant nagging, but I sometimes question the authorial intent when the boy’s grandfather sides with him instead of her.

    And in where I leave, bullying of that degree would get you expelled and sent to juvenile detention.

  3. G

    Battery is such a character driven story. And that’s where I have the biggest issue with this anime. I hate all the characters.
    Maybe with a couple exceptions, Gou is alright, as is the mom, Seiha is my favorite despite how little screen time he gets. Takumi is still the same insufferable cocky [insert explicit] he was to start the show. I will say that the lashing from Nobunishi & co did bring out perhaps the only good side to his character; he’s willing to put up with a bloody whipping to preserve the baseball team, albeit for his own selfish reasons. Still he’s able to think rationally about a situation whereas a lot of others would have lost their heads. Nobunishi seemed like a villainous sempai when he was introduced. He’s only further confirmed that label, the over the top violence just makes him irredeemable. Sawaguchi is the worst kind of kid and anyone who defends what he did is just as slimy. Otomurai is not as bad as the two coaches showcased in DnA but they’re not exactly role models for high school coaches either. The principal acted according to the standard we often see in Japanese shows, which is also unfortunate given the different towards Japanese social standards we’d seen up until this point.
    I’m also looking forward to an actual game. From the opening it looks like we’ll only be getting that single match. I won’t expect a traditional training arc, but it would be nice to see the levels of the Nitta players and if their coach can improve them somewhat before the exhibition game against the district champs.

  4. I’m confused. What did Sawaguchi do that was so unforgivable?

  5. G

    Not only did he run away and hide when Takumi was getting whipped. He then stayed home because he was too scared to face Takumi at school. And after everyone went through the trouble to go see him at his house, Sawaguchi went on to snitch about the incident to the coach. He’s a gutless worm with absolutely no redeeming qualities.

  6. I can only assume you’ve never had exposure to any bullying incidents based on that reaction.

  7. G

    “I can only assume you’ve never had exposure to any bullying incidents”
    I don’t know how you came to such a misguided conclusion from my post. If anything I would say you’ve never been around bullying if you agree with Sawaguchi’s actions.
    For myself, I’ve been on both sides of the coin; I was the bully in elementary school and I was bullied in middle school. From the bully’s perspective I don’t like when people snitch because then I get in trouble. But at the same time that doesn’t make me want to stop, that just exacerbates my dislike for whoever I was bullying. I remember one particular kid who I actually became friends with afterwards because instead of just running crying to the teachers he confronted me and we actually found we had a lot in common. Now I was a verbally abusive bully rather than physically abusive but bullying is bullying either way.
    In middle school I was the new American kid in a French public school (in France) located in a neighborhood of primarily north African immigrants. This was during the middle of the Bush presidency and not long after the US invaded Iraq. I’m sure you older people will recognize that at that time the US was not a popular country, especially among Arab groups. I had to cope with their hatred towards my president, who I was too young to have influence on choosing and learn a new language and try to make friends with the other kids who had already established their cliques from being together through elementary school. Now I was never whipped with a belt, but I did get physically bullied. But I knew better than to run to the teachers and cry about my situation. They only paint a bigger target on your back and can’t do anything once you leave the school grounds. Likewise complaining to my parents wouldn’t help because they would just go to the school administration which would ultimately have the same effect as me going to the teachers. It would probably have gotten the main bully suspended, but suspensions are temporary and he would only come back with more anger and hatred directed at me. To combat the bullying I did two things; fought back, and made friends with people who would have my back and could were better fighters than the bully.
    From those two experiences, I adamantly believe that you have to help yourself. Crying to adults often worsens the conflict and as the victim, you don’t learn how to deal with adversity on your own.
    Relevant to the Sawaguchi scenario, Takumi had decided and made clear that he didn’t want to get the coach or the administration involved because he knew they would stop the baseball club activities and to him (the victim) baseball is more important than having the school punish Nobunishi. Sawaguchi should have at least respected that, even if he’s a gutless chicken.

  8. Well, let’s just say I find myself in complete disagreement with your take on the situation and leave it at that.

  9. If suspensions don’t work the bully would probably have been expelled if the reports to the teachers continue. You made the right move making friends but in school at least I think the other way works too if you’re in a pretty developed society.

  10. A

    Really, I reckon the mum is treated fine. Her interactions with Takumi highlight how awful he can be.

  11. I kind of feel the same way. I don’t like how Takumi treats her (though it’s not that unusual for a kid his age) but I think the narrative treats her fine by anime standards.

  12. Z

    Coming at this from a different perspective (I’m old. Get off my lawn!) I think I am better able to tolerate the kids and their flaws (with the exception of Nobunishi who has been painted with a very broad brush of villainy – and the other two nameless players who assisted) than I am the adults. How little attention/affection has the Mother given Takumi that touching the side of his face and asking if something is troubling him would affect him so deeply. The Grandfather’s smug “that’s what you get when you touch a pitcher’s shoulder” look. Then the Coach started in with his “do you see how powerless you are” lecture to a child who has been physically assaulted. I was nothing less than disgusted. Ugh. And that was all in the first 7 minutes.

    That’s just me though. Clearly your mileage may vary.

  13. j

    I agree, this episode was disappointing. This show doesn’t seem to shy away from making its viewers uncomfortable and so far I’ve been impressed with that approach to addressing the social issues at hand, but honestly this episode was too frustrating for me. The principle didn’t even bother to inform Takumi’s mother? I mean, it’s not like it was a mutual fight. Multiple older boys perpetrated a deliberate, planned act of grievous violence on one student. A freaking first-year! At the very least, they should have suspended the perpetrators, informed the parents, and made sure that Takumi’s wounds were cared for. But what happened in this episode just takes the cake. Not only is Nobunishi allowed to remain on the team, but the coach and the captain beg him to stay? And how the hell does that goddamn coach get off acting like that to his student? A student that was recently assaulted! He literally grabs Takumi by his collar. I must have spent most have this episode staring incredulously at the screen. I think I must have warmed up to Takumi just because of how horribly the other characters treat him. He may be an arrogant brat, but no one should have to deal with all this abusive crap.

    Lol, I got a bit angry there writing all that, but I am still quite invested in Takumi, Gou, and Seiha’s relationship. I don’t know if I can stomach more of the awfulness and negligent behavior—especially from those that are supposed to be adults and authority figures, but I’m in it for the main characters. And looks like we’ll get to see an actual game happening, so there’s that too.

  14. G

    I was thinking more about how lenient the school’s punishment was and how the principal and coach glossed over the situation. The only explanation would be that nobody aside from Nobunishi, his 2 accomplices, Gou and Takumi know the extent of the violence that took place. Knowing Takumi’s attitude he wouldn’t let anyone besides Gou treat his back which means that, presumably, Gou is the only person not directly involved to see how badly Takumi was hurt.
    Given the hierarchical system in Japanese school sports, and how much of a pain in the ass Takumi is, it would be expected he’d be subjected to some form of bullying above the “normal” freshman hazing.
    So, while I don’t mean to excuse the coach’s behavior, perhaps some perspective should be given for him acting the way he did with regards to his team’s co-captain. Likewise the principle didn’t seem to know Takumi was whipped with a belt which may be why he merely suspended Nobunishi.

  15. j

    Well, I think the fact that the school didn’t bother checking up on his injuries is rather telling. They should have figured out exactly what happened. The incident occurred at school. The school most definitely has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its students while they are on school property. If something like this happens, they should be taking measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And moreover, Takumi is what, 12? 13? The fact that his mother was not notified is ridiculous to me.

    From the way he speaks this episodes, Nobunishi does not seem to understand or care that what he did to Takumi was not justifiable. I could not detect any remorse from him, at all. Which proves to me that the school made a mistake in letting him go without any real punishment.

    The coach, well. He’s a goddamn adult. He should be acting like one. If he needs to resort to pushing his students around (physically, no less) in order to maintain order and discipline, well, I think he’s failing as a teacher then.

  16. I don’t disagree but at least this is probably the last we’ll see of Nobunishi.

  17. A

    Overall I kind of get your point Enzo in the type of story you want. I’m not necessarily sure I want the same story. I feel the themes of individuality over the system have been done to the death (and done well for that matter) already. I mean you have George Orwell’s 1984, Gattica, Dead Poet’s society, Equilibrium and that’s just what I’m familiar with. I understand there probably hasn’t been similar themes in Japanese media but I’d rather them not explore that theme if they can’t do it justice.

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