(11 episodes, noitaminA)
What’s it about ?
Adaptation of a sports manga that ran for a year in 1996-97. Also got a live-action movie a decade ago. Not exactly the most obvious choice for an adaptation, but there’s been weirder greenlights this season.
“Peco”, the annoyingly smug asshole who skips half the high school club’s training sessions. He’s quite good and does have some charisma, but he certainly deserves a punch in the face.
“Smile”, his best friend (or so it’s said, they barely interact at all here), the taciturn analytical genius who stays in the background. (He never smiles, of course.)
“China”, the transfer student, who used to play in the big leagues in his country, and sees his transfer as a humiliating demotion. This whole club is beneath him, he effortlessly trounces Peco… but Smile does catch his attention.
The core selling point here is the name of director Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba, Tatami Galaxy, Kick-Heart…). It certainly looks like nothing else, with a distinctive super-kinetic style and impressively animated matches.
The problem is that the show leaves me completely cold. Sure, there’s a lot of technical skill at play here, but there’s very little to latch onto emotionnally until China shows up halfway through to liven things up. Even then, I found the main characters very unlikeable, and it’s going to be an uphill battle to make me care about what happens to them.
This is a caricature of a good chunk of noitaminA shows : an artsy ambitious project that nobody would want to watch. I’ll give it one more episode to turn my opinion around, but it’s on thin ice.