This post contains some tidbits of spoilers.
Baseball is a sport that I had the fortune to become familiar with just around the end of last year (thanks Daiya no A!). A bunch of Japanese shows I’ve watched had instances when they mention the said sport though, especially the word “Koshien”, which refers to the Nationals for high school baseball teams. It is a big deal for each player to be able to play in a national competition, no matter what sport it may be, because it could determine one’s future as a professional player.
Now, enter this certain classic anime series about someone who dreams for something greater than just nationals; he dreams to compete with players from different parts of the world.
Major is a series written by Takuya Mitsuda which was published by Shogakukan on Weekly Shonen Sunday. It has an anime adaptation which ran for 6 seasons plus a movie and 2 OVAs. It is a story about Honda Goro’s journey to accomplish his dream of joining the Major League. The six seasons cover his growth from childhood to adulthood as he pursue his dream.
It is a good mix of drama, friendship, comedy, and sports. Each season shows Goro facing different challenges and it is interesting to see how he overcomes each of them.
Given the nature of baseball, it is quite expected that it has a large ensemble of cast. Each season introduces a new set of characters. What it does great, though, is that it does not forget the characters from the previous season/s. Each character which became important on a season may play a different role on the next. This helps us monitor their growth and development. It is also interesting to see how a rival before becomes a team mate and vice versa.
Though the supporting characters share the limelight to show their own growth, there is no arguing about how this show centers on Goro.
Goro is a passionate baseball player and is willing to do anything to make his dream to be a Major Leaguer come true. He never gives up and does all that he can to succeed. He plays as a pitcher, though the story does not really make it a big deal whether he is the ace or not. (But he just naturally is one.) Goro is certainly proud, arrogant, and hot-tempered, which makes some times unbearable for me to watch.
Honestly, even if I support and commend his pursuit of his dream, Goro isn’t exactly my favorite character. A lot of times I wanted to smack him on the head for being stubborn and arrogant. And he’s too overpowered for my liking. But I’ve got to admit that he is capable and independent. My favorite side of him is his being a good brother.
Out of all the characters, here are my favorite ones:
Toshiya Sato. I loved his character development the most. Plus puberty did things right for him. Not only is he good-looking, he is smart, too! He plays as a catcher and makes good calls. He is a good batter as well. He has his own share of dramatic backstory and how things developed for him just makes you glad for him. He is a good friend as well as rival of Goro. The two inspires each other to grow stronger.
Hoshino Momoko. Goro’s kindergarten teacher who is with him from that period of his life onwards. She takes on the role of Goro’s mother and supports him on his endeavors. She clearly loved Shigeharu, Goro’s dad, but she was able to handle and balance things out even with what happened later on.
Komori Daisuke. He has one of the remarkable character developments. His passion for baseball grew as the seasons come and go. He is a reliable catcher, team mate, and friend, especially to Goro. Knowing Goro ever since Little League, he knows and trusts him a lot. I like how he (and the others) show support to his friend.
Shimizu Kaoru. The only woman aside from Momoko who has been with Goro since his childhood years. She was his classmate who became his first team mate. I admire her for her dedication to softball and her understanding and patience for the man she loves.
I just got a bit irritated with her during the time she visited him abroad.
Joe Gibson. He plays a big role on Goro’s life as he is the person responsible for Goro’s changed life. He is a major driving force for Goro to continue improving his baseball. At first, he came as an arrogant person to me, but as the series shows more of him, I grew to love him. He is true to his word. His passion for baseball is so strong and powerful.
Some bishounen who I liked here aside from Toshi are the following:
Shimizu Taiga. He is Kaoru’s younger brother who is a competent player but lacks motivation. He tries to hide whenever he is serious, though. He has a sharp tongue which at times help but at times just seriously annoying. He grew as an adorable, responsible young man, albeit still annoying at times.
Mayumura Ken. He was an ace pitcher for Kaido High School and became Goro’s rival as he pitches gyroballs like Goro. How his personal life turned out in the end surprised me because there were no hints about it, though that makes it more open for headcanons.
Jeff Keane. Though he can be a bit cold, he still expresses his concern in his own way, which isn’t usually words, as he speaks less than the others. He is an introvert so he does not usually mingle with his team mates, but he’s able to lead them all well. I loved that minor development that they showed of him by the end of their season.
Each character has a charm of their own, but there are those which are more memorable than others. In the same way, a season may be more likeable than the others. Personally, my favorite season is the first season. Though it has a lot more drama compared to others, it works as a good foundation for Goro’s growth. I really appreciate how team play is shown here as well.
The first three seasons are animated by Studio Hibari but SynergySP took over the fourth season onwards. (I think the season 4 is the least likeable season because there are not much interesting stuff that happened.) Since the first season aired on 2002 while the sixth on 2008, it is evident how the animation improved, though still not Production I.G. level. It is enough to emphasize how different the pitches are, however.
I understand why this anime is a recommended one especially for the sports anime fans. I guess it takes patience to appreciate the series, however, because I don’t think everyone wants to watch a bunch of little kids with lots of drama. I appreciated this more when I managed to watch all of the seasons plus the OVAs because I got to see the whole picture, how Goro and everyone else changed as they grew older.
Pursuing one’s dream is not new in sports anime. What Major reminded me more than this is that we can all aim high. Aim high, but never forget that that means that the obstacles are high, too. We can overcome them if we really will ourselves to work hard and even harder to do so.