The sports anime genre is the most underrated genre ever: PERIOD! Sure, a good portion of them have generic stories that only serve as filler until the sports action starts. And…they can also be all around schlock fests like FREE. But then there’s series like Major that not only provides the viewer with great sports action, it shows that a sports anime can also provide the viewer with a coming of age story that can be enjoyed by fans of any genre of anime.
It’s impossible to speak about the central plot of Major without talking about the main character, Honda/Shigeno Goro. And my gosh…where do I even BEGIN to talk about Goro? Shakespeare himself could not have written a more tragic character than this guy. Allow me to list just some of the messed up stuff that happens to this poor, unfortunate soul:
- His mother is already dead at the start of the anime
- His father is an aging ball player who’s struggling to find work
- After his father finally gets back on his feet, the guy dies from being hit in the head with a ball
- Goro has to basically create a little league team on his own because the only one near his home is about to be disbanded
- He nearly blows out his shoulder pitching against the best team in the league
- He THEN blows out said shoulder in another Little League and has to give up baseball for a while
- THEN he has to learn, all on his own, how to throw with his left hand
All of THAT happens before his 18th birthday!!
If you haven’t figured it out by now, this show is big on drama and tugging at your emotions. Everything thing that you think can go wrong DOES go wrong for Goro. And it’s watching him grow up and overcome all of these obstacles to reach the Major Leagues that makes the anime SO FREAKING AWESOME!!
The rest of the cast isn’t all out forgettable, but most just fill in the usual tropes you’d find in a sports anime. The only ones of note are Roy Gibson, of course, Toshi the best friend/rival and Shimizu the love interest. I especially liked the relationship between Goro and Shimizu because it’s not a “love at first sight” type deal. It’s nice to see character actually go through the act of being in love instead of the usual insta-hook up.
Drama aside, this is a SPORTS anime so the actual sporting event needs to be as, if not more, enjoyable than anything else. And while I had reservations about it due to me thinking baseball is boring, I must say that I was quite impressed by the actual baseball games shown. The action is fluid and realistic, and only occasionally jumps the shark. And as with any good sports series, it keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time, wondering just what turn the game will take. The most memorable scene comes in the World Baseball Classic when Gibson Jr friggin’ belts a home run off the scoreboard while breaking his bat. My jaw still drops when I think about it!
As much as it may seem that I’m gushing over Major, nothing man-made is without its share of faults. After a season or two the show sort of falls into a predictable routine:
- Goro shows up to a play baseball
- The team he plays for either lacks a love for the game or is in some sort of pickle
- At first Goro rubs everyone the wrong way, but then he gradually grows on them
- Their of love baseball is renewed and they start playing better than ever
While not a big deal to me, I can see how it would be a turn off to others who don’t like being able to predict what comes next in a show. Another gripe I have with the anime is that while I liked the romance between Goro and Shimizu, it wasn’t until the LAST season before things got serious between them. They didn’t even kiss until the very last episode, and they had known each other since elementary school!! Over 150+ episodes I waited for them to officially hook up!! Sooo….muuuchhh…waiting!!
Ok…wrapping things up. Major is a solid anime that just happens to focus on the sport of baseball. It reminds of Dragon Ball in that we actually see the main char grow and mature over time rather than having him already at/stuck at a certain age like Inazuma 11 or Eyeshield 21. It’s message about overcoming the odds to achieve your dreams is one fans of any genre can enjoy. If you have the time, sit down at watch it for yourself. You will definitely not be disappointed. But as always, that’s Just…My 2 Cents. Deuces!!