Well, the Spring anime season is kind of in shambles right now and for me personally, it’s a bit hard to discuss about. There are some shows that I am very much enjoying such as the second season of Jashin-chan Dropkick and Yesterday to Utatte. But with a lot of anime being postponed and/or my interest in some of them decreasing rapidly, my list for this season is pretty short.
However, there is one currently airing show that has big reasons for me to continue it and big reasons for me to drop it. It’s strange but allow me to explain (and give you an overview of what this anime is about).
(mild spoiler warning)
Tamayomi, a sports anime produced by Studio A-CAT, is about one Takeda Yomi, a baseball pitcher who was the best on her junior high’s team and even had a crazy yet super effective pitch in her arsenal, nicknamed the “Magic Throw”. However because Yomi was so good, the rest of her teammates were never able or motivated to catch up to her advanced skill, especially her catcher who couldn’t catch Yomi’s “Magic Ball” pitch. Because of that, it ultimately made her lose interest in the game and she ended up quitting all together. Now entering high school, she runs into her long lost friend, Yamazaki Tamaki, who is a very good catcher and used to play catch with Yomi as a child (in fact, she has been the first and only person to have the ability to catch Yomi’s signature pitch). So with their reunion and now developed skills in the sport, they become motivated to create a baseball club/team at their school and fulfill the promise they made as kids.
Now first off, let me say that I have never really been much of a sports anime fan; I could probably count the number of sports anime I’ve seen on one hand. It may be because I’ve always preferred the fictional sports narratives shown in the United States, with classics like Space Jam, The Longest Yard, the Rocky series and baseball films such The Sandlot and Major League. I think because those movies are live-action rather than animated, I get a better sense of realism when watching those (well… except for Space Jam, that’s for sure lol). I’m not knocking sports anime, I’m definitely not one to give an opinion on it, it’s simply just personal preference.
But for some very specific reasons, I had the sudden urge to watch this show. There were many other opportunities for me to actually watch a sports anime like Major, Haikyuu, and the recent Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine. But no, my super weird mind and priorities decided to watch this random baseball anime.
I’ll be honest here and say that the main reason was that a specific voice actress that I admire is featured as a main character. When I heard Maeda Kaori would voice Yomi, it definitely peaked my interest. If you don’t know, Kaorin is a part of the newest Love Live group, portraying one of the nine school idols in Osaka Shizuku. And as you probably could tell in my last post, I’ve been pretty dedicated in learning about and supporting that new idol group and its voice actresses. So I just thought, “Kaorin is in this, plus I love baseball, so why not?”. Now that I think about it, I’ve been starting to watch anime that feature the PDP seiyuu, such as seeing Sashide Maria in Wataten and Murakami Natsumi in the currently airing Sanrio anime Mewkledreamy.
Another reason why I started watching this is probably because the sports world has come to a sudden halt. Pretty much all professional sports leagues in the United States currently aren’t active, whether that be because of the pandemic or their scheduled season hasn’t started yet (I’d be very surprised if the National Football League season starts in September WITH fans attending). While there definitely are more important things to worry about than sports, as an avid fan, it feels weird and almost melancholy to not see an NBA game on TV or the start of the MLB season.
Anyways, let’s actually talk about the anime now lol
Like a lot of sports narratives, the story is generally about an underdog. A person or a team who starts off at the bottom and in the end, they rise to the top because of hard work, excellent team effort and probably some luck. I actually tend to enjoy those kinds of stories, to be honest. Especially if it’s a character or cast of characters that make it easy for you to like them, you start to feel for them and wish they succeed.
Tamayomi is not any different. Two girls who are hella good at baseball decide to revive their high school’s baseball club and recruit a bunch of people with different backgrounds; it’s standard stuff. I do find one aspect of the story to be interesting; that being the history of that school’s baseball club and how that impacts this new, upcoming team. Because the leaders/captains of the previous club were too serious about the game, going as far as inflicting violence on some teammates, it makes me interested in how exactly Yomi and her new team will deal with the unfortunate image of that school’s program. Obviously winning an actual title will clear most of it but with the team having that bad of a rep, I’m looking forward to seeing their whole journey to prove their school’s worth.
Characters are decent. All of them come from different backgrounds which some were explained well within the first few episodes. Our two main ladies, Yomi and Tamaki, both are veterans at baseball and have the skills to play but what makes this battery (term for a pitcher/catcher combo) interesting is the way they had to develop their game. Yomi came from a team that was always unmotivated and laid-back while Tamaki was dealing with the complete opposite with a group that may have been too intense. With both experiences being considered failures to them, it gives a good insight in the motives of Yomi and Tamaki creating a whole new group of players and a reason to root for their success.
As for the rest of the cast, I feel like they were a little bit more memorable than Yomi and Tamaki themselves, simply because their personalities and behaviors felt more interesting. A friend duo with an on-going rivalry of who’s the better infielder, a girl with a high-pitched voice who surprised me with how much of a baseball nut she really is, and hell, there even was a person who finally got her chance to play ball after becoming a kendo champion. I feel like the only strong trait of Yomi and Tamaki is being great at baseball, so I hope their development as characters gets better overtime.
Speaking of baseball, I have to address that part of the show. As an amateur baseball fan, I’ve gotten to learn a lot about the game and the specifics around it over the years, such as mechanics and even pitch types. Certainly won’t call myself an expert but I was looking forward to seeing how legit this show expresses the game. And in my opinion, they’re not really bullshitting much! Everything from pitch types (Yomi’s pitch is what you would call a ‘slurve’, a curveball with the velocity of a slider), practice drills, sac flies, when and when not to shift the infield; the fact that I’m actually understanding what’s going on goes to show that they’re not ‘half-assing’ the baseball part of this story. Although, I feel like they sort of jump right into expressing all these aspects and expect you to already know the basics. So if you don’t know much about baseball, you may not have the same experience as someone like myself.
That being said, it seems like I’m, for the most part, enjoying this show. So what’s the problem, Al?
…the problem is the art and animation. And for a lot of people, including myself, it’s been a pretty major problem.
Even though I haven’t seen many sports anime, I would think that it’s normal to expect at least some good and smooth animation. I mean, how could you not? Sports is all about movement and it’s essential to show athletes playing in the most accurate and polished way possible.
But when it comes to animation with Tamayomi, it’s almost frustrating. First off, it looks bad. It’s not smooth and looks like it was done really cheaply, both in the 2D and 3D parts. There are certain places where the 3D animation looked very out of place and while I have brushed off weird 3D scenes like that in other shows, this one was just too glaring and distracting to me.
Another problem I had with the animation was that they just kept going back and forth, changing from 2D to 3D very frequently. And with the art (more on the character design side of things) and general animation not looking great in the first place, I feel like that just made it worse. There were some parts where it actually looked nice, but you can tell that they put most of their effort and work into those important shots rather than the entire scene.
Obviously there are many factors in why it is what it is whether that be because of a small budget, time constraints, or even this whole pandemic disrupting the production process. But as a viewer, it’s hard not to criticize the glaring flaws in how this anime looks and to be honest, I have a good feeling that it’s gonna break the whole show for me at some point. I understand that because sports anime is never going to look as realistic as real life sports, the story should make up for that. But with Tamayomi’s narrative not being too special, it just doesn’t help its cause. Hell, it doesn’t help that Funimation, the international distributor for the show, decided to air an unfinished version of episode four.
But that’s just my own opinion. I really like a good amount of aspects about this show, which will probably make me continue watching. However, it may be a ‘picky’ thing for me to say but I just can’t get over its massive flaws. And with it being pretty bad in the public eye, I’m kind of bummed out that it’s gonna be seen as just a poorly animated baseball show with girls that have thick thighs.
If you’ve been watching Tamayomi as well, let me know what you think of it. I’d like to see other people’s opinions on it.
Thanks for reading!! 😀