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One Outs - the Overlooked Classic Posted Dec 3, 2019

There are some anime series which are famous all over the world. Naruto Shippuden, Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z are just some of the names which have hit the mainstream over recent years. However, there are many other anime series which have, apparently, sunk without a trace. One of those is One Outs. Yet, those who are fans of this sports-based series believed that it’s an overlooked classic. So, what should we know about this Japanese series that has been so neglected by western audiences?

What Is One Outs All About?

A quick look at the characters and storyline of One Outs adds weight to the idea that the series’ fans might be right that this is an overlooked classic. All of the components are there to indicate this could be some seriously exciting anime. Baseball, psychological manipulation, cheating and a master gambler who wouldn’t be out of place in one of the new casinos in UK – surely these factors should all add up to something that’s well worth watching?

So, what is One Outs all about? Essentially, it’s about a master gambler known as Tokuchi Toua whose speciality is the simplified baseball game called One Outs. When he meets Hiromichi Kojima, the Lycaons’ star batter, the story takes off.

Kojima plays for the Lycaons team, part of the fictional Japan’s Pacific League. His team has been going through a slump, so Kojima heads to Okinawa where he is supposed to train harder. However, it is here that he meets Tokuchi who is the One Outs undisputed king. Able to pitch at 83 mph, it isn’t surprising that after a single game, Tokuchi is asked to become part of the team.

Yet things are just getting interesting. Tokuchi lives up to his professional gambler status. When he meets the owner of the team, he negotiates for himself an unusual contract. For each out he records, he receives 5 million yen in return. Yet for each run that another team score against him, he must pay the team back ten times that sum.

The Characters

The plot may be unusual and exciting, but it’s the main character that makes this anime series even more bizarre yet engaging. The viewer never gets to see what’s going on in Tokuchi’s head. What he is thinking is never explained, so all the viewer sees is the other people’s reaction to his behaviour with explanations coming later. While this sounds irritating, it actually works perfectly to reinforce the manipulative nature of the character, showing just what an expert he is in human behaviour, and how it can use his knowledge to his advantage.

What Should I Know About One Outs?

The One Outs anime series was made by Madhouse, with direction from Yuzo Sato (the director who was also responsible for Akagi and Kaji). It’s clear that the director has a penchant for main characters with similar traits, since Tokuchi and these two animated series’ leads are almost identical in personality. Not only that, but all three have the same voice actor – Masato Hagiwara.

The theme song of this series is performed by PayMoney to my Pain. The vocalist of this group, K, died on 30th December 2012, but after his passing, the band went on to release an album which featured songs recorded by K before he died. One of the songs on this album was called “Respect for the Dead Man” – a rather disturbing foresight of what was to come. That song was used as the Winter 2014 season opening theme for anime Nobunagun.

Another fascinating fact about this show comes in the form of technical knowledge regarding baseball. In Tokuchi’s contract, he could only break even if he admitted at most one run for each ten outs that are recorded. This works out at a 2.72 ERA. Under the terms of this contract, only seven MLB pitchers who have qualified for the ERA title could have made themselves a profit.

Why Is This Show So Overlooked?

There are two key reasons why this series has probably been largely overlooked by viewers everywhere. Firstly, apart from the main character, virtually no effort has been put into developing the other characters. Most side characters in this series are pretty much forgettable and certainly one-dimensional. Not only that but this is a show that’s focused on sports, and baseball in particular. If that isn’t up your street, the long pitch-side conversations are going to prove to be quite wearisome after a while. Also, the series has a rather lacklustre end, without any sense of closure. That in itself can be irritating for those who want a nice, clear ending to their anime.

Why Should I Watch One Outs?

If you like anime series which are intelligent and dark but with a truly unusually and well-developed primary character, you’re going to love One Outs. Of course, if you also happen to be a baseball fan, you’re definitely going to enjoy watching this series. Why not give it a try and see if you agree with the fans’ consensus that this show should be on more peoples’ radar?

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