My first anime other than Pokemon

more afraid of you
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I just finished watching my first anime (first tv show of any kind in many years too, really) other than Pokemon recently. I realize how spoiled I have become with this site (and bulbapedia for that matter), even though I have only been on it for a few years, having the ability to talk about and read stuff about the show I love is a nice gift that doesn't exist for less popular titles. So I got a strong feeling to talk about the anime I just watched, I don't believe many people here would like it, but I just have a craving to write some about it. Also, I am not looking for suggestions on what else to watch, I barely have time for all my hobbies as it is, I just kind of backed into watching this, which I will explain. The first part I'm just going to write about general stuff I felt about the show, then I will put a "spoilers below" section when I actually talk about what happened in the show.

So it all began a couple weeks ago, I was on a bulbapedia article, and for whatever reason every once in a while I click on the sources on the bottom of the article for some of the information I am reading about. I can't even remember what article this was, and I certainly don't know the website of the source, because everything was in Japanese. The article was about Pokemon, but the site wasn't dedicated to it, as there were thumbnails with pictures from other anime on the side and one of the pictures really drew my attention. It was a picture of several girls with baseball equipment. Note: I have played and watched baseball my entire life, and it is my absolute favorite thing. I clicked on the picture and thought it looked cute, and that was about it.

Flash forward a few days later and I am sitting down to watch the next episode in Pokemon Sun & Moon. Those people here who have read my stuff will realize, I really strongly dislike Sun & Moon anime, but I absolutely adored the Pokemon anime for its first 19 years of existence, so for some bizarre reason I force myself to watch the SM anime (and with only like 20 left, I will finish it, although I've finally gotten to the point where I won't force myself to watch the next series if I also don't like it). Anyway, that day I wasn't in the greatest mood as it is, so I didn't feel like wasting the 30 or so minutes I set aside for watching a tv show on something that would make my mood even worse (typically I go into an SM episode feeling optimistic for some bizarre reason, and then leave very disappointed). Then I remembered that picture I saw a few days earlier and thought maybe I would try to figure out what that was. I googled it, and was able to figure out what the show was called, and even found a place I'm fairly certain is legal to watch a sub for free with only a few ads (why on earth can't Pokemon do this???) so I decided I would try to watch an episode. Side note: the show is called Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine. Don't watch it on account of me if you don't like baseball, I don't expect anyone who doesn't like baseball would like the show to the fullest (you may like it some). About halfway through watching it, I found out it was based on a mobile game, which kind of broke my heart because I hate mobile games, but I decided to try to not let that bother me. I saw some footage of the game and I'm not sure I really understand how it works. I'm inserting the image I originally saw here - which I think is the promotional poster for the series:

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My expectations entering the first episode were very low. As I watched, I was pleasantly surprised with how engrossed I was with the story, and I actually found time to watch an episode everyday for 12 days (sadly there are only 12 total episodes - another thing we are hugely spoiled with by Pokemon) and it was the first time I strongly enjoyed something new I watched (other than sporting events) since 2016! The only complaint I have about the series is that it was too short, I think more episodes would have allowed for more time to learn more about each girl on the team. I tried to find out on google if there is going to be a second season and wasn't able to find anything concrete, but the way the show ended, I would expect there probably isn't going to be a second season.

The biggest surprise for me was just how well they did adapting baseball. In contrast, I think Pokemon has done a downright atrocious job of adapting baseball in the several episodes that have had baseball. In Cinderella Nine they did a really good job of showing realistic practice methods, fairly realistic improvement in the athletes (the 12 episodes stretched over 1 year) - of course in anything like this improvement is typically a bit "above average" at the least - , and had sound baseball principles and information for the most part. There were only a few baseball related qualms I had, and they weren't so much to keep me from enjoying any particular episode.

The animation was definitely, should I say, cheaper than what I am used to, but that didn't bother me in the slightest. The art-style was phenomenal, and that is what I find more important. I have mentioned on these forums many times that I find the art style more important than the animation, one of the reasons is that I am able to imagine or "fill in the blanks" for a choppy animation, but I cannot bring myself to imagine the characters as looking differently, so the art style is the most important aspect to me.

One more thing before I talk about the actual show, I thought the opening and the BGM was incredible. I also really enjoyed the scenes that were partnered with the opening. They use sunflowers a lot in the opening and in the logo, and for probably the first two-thirds of the show you have no idea why, but you find out later, which I thought was kind of fun.

Spoilers below - if you think you might watch this sometime, probably don't read this section, but since its a blog and it isn't a Pokemon related spoiler I wasn't planning on using a tab (I'm not expecting many, if any, people to read this anyway, I'm mostly writing it for myself- but if you somehow are reading this - consider yourself warned).



The show basically starts off with a girl (Tsubasa) who has just entered Sato high school. She had played youth baseball with boys (I'm filling in through flashbacks that aired later in the show, you don't know all of this right away), but didn't see a way for herself to continue playing during high school and was expecting to quit. Her best friend (Tomoe), who liked to watch her games, but didn't feel herself athletic enough to play, decided she would play with Tsubasa (although i don't think she expected to actually be legit-playing at first, just throwing a ball around sometimes), so on the first day of high school Tsubasa tried to start a baseball "club", which after some drama was downgraded to an "association" (which I think the main difference was it meant less funding). Anyway, early on two girls were interested enough, and with some convincing joined the club, including my absolute favorite character from the series, Akane, who is really shy, naturally less athletic, and lacks self- confidence, but throughout the show slowly gains confidence and improves at baseball.

Anyway, after the original setting up of the association, we get to see a lot of actual baseball practice, and there are a couple practice games as well. Throughout the series more girls are able to join the team, each of whom has an interest in baseball. Only a few of the athletes had ever played baseball before, many had played other sports, while some had not played sports at all, and it was interesting to see what talents each of them had and how they could be translated over to baseball. Even with the lack of time, I felt the story did a great job of letting you know each of the girls on the team, unique aspects of their personalities, as well as their motivation for playing baseball (but I really do wish there was more episodes so we could get even more of this). Typically the girls who wound up joining would initially show interest in learning about the team or just watching them, but didn't have the confidence to play, but Tsubasa would be able to convince them to play, without any concern for how good they were. For example, a girl (Ayaka) who was interested in being a journalist, wanted to write about the team, which she did (which gained the team fans at the high school) but she also got to play on the team, and she was a very fast runner and wound up playing center field and batting lead-off.

They were able to practice on a really old field that was on an old farm, because the owner liked baseball. At first, the field was covered in weeds, and the girls worked very hard to clean it up (which led to jokes about being the "weeding association"). During the spring, Akane actually noticed a few sprouts coming up deep in the outfield and asked the owner what they were, and it turns out they were sunflowers, which had been grown there before. The girls wound up watering the plants during some practices and the sunflowers grew and acted as a beautiful outfield wall, which I thought was a cool touch - and explained all the sunflowers in the opening and logo that I alluded to earlier.

The most interesting "conflict" in the show was the idea that many more competitive players (including one of the players on the Sato team) and teams had that you couldn't be friends with your teammates, and that friendships would make on-field performance suffer. This even led to an emotional episode where Tomoe told Tsubasa they couldn't be best friends anymore. Even so, the Sato high team went through a lot together that improved their friendship and camaraderie and it wound up improving their on field performance greatly (some highlights include eating together, practicing together every day, having a week long training camp where they stayed together, having a barbecue, etc). They were able to prove to themselves, and a few others, that being friends and having fun doesn't hurt your on field production, and in many cases, it actually improves it. Through all the baseball I have played I fully agree with this notion.

By the end of the series, the girls are able to join a summer tournament (which they actually finally got the funds for by achieving "club" status). They were able to win one game in the tournament, and the series ended at the next school year, with more 1st year students wanting to join the team. I was happy with the progression, because unlike some shows, they didn't over do it. Even in the final game, there were still some struggles, and everyone's improvement amount was fairly believable. Also, I forgot to mention they had a really cool advisor who wound up being the advisor for their club, who we got little hints of backstory for, but again more episodes would have been really good to learn more about her.

On to talking about my favorite characters, first is Akane, who was extremely shy. Quick note, I thought her VA was absolutely outstanding in portraying this. I really connected with her because I am also very shy/quiet and not the most confident and I wasn't naturally skilled at baseball either at first (of course that was when I was very young because I had a chance to play at a much younger age than she did). The first touching thing to me was just how joining this association allowed her to make some really good friends right from the start during high school. Also, she didn't really see her self playing at first when she wanted to learn more about the association, but eventually became confident enough to try her best and actually get to play a sport she really enjoyed. The really sad part was when the team grew from 9 to 11 members and then during the final practice game and tournament, they had to select who would start (baseball has 9 players at a time for those of you who didn't know). Even though both Akane and Tomoe had improved a lot, they still were the two who didn't start (iirc they were the only two on the team that had never played sports of any kind before high school - other than Waka who was the catcher and had a ton of baseball knowledge bc her brother played in college), which was a really sad moment and shook Akane's confidence a bit. She was able to be a base coach, which she was afraid of at first, but with help from Tsubasa, she was able to gain confidence at that, and she also got to go in as a sub in the tournament game and made a really nice catch in right field (which yes, tends to be the place youth teams stick their worst player). Anyway, I felt myself being really happy for her, because I feel like without the baseball association her high school tenure could have been pretty rough, but instead she made some amazing friends, had a ton of fun, and increased her confidence immensely. Oh yeah, she wears this really cute hood, which I assume is more normal in Japan? I kind of took it as a way to feel safer because of her lack of confidence, but anyway, I'm not sure that's what it was intended as. I inserted a few pictures of her here because she's just so cute I have to share it:

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My other favorite character is Tsubasa. I want to mention this is the first show or even movie I have ever watched where the main character was one of my favorites, it literally never happens, but Tsubasa was really an amazing character. First, she played shortstop, which is the position I played most often as well. Her personality and attitude was fantastic, she was incredible at motivating her teammates, she was humble about her own skills, and tried her best to include everyone regardless of their skill level. Throughout practices and games she would constantly find a way to keep everyone feeling good about themselves, even when they made mistakes or got way behind, and she was able to instill confidence in others through her exuberance. She was also able to be friendly with anyone and treated everyone well even if they didn't treat her well. Her passion for baseball was infectious and something I really appreciated. I would have attached a picture of her too, but I got limited to what I could upload, so she is the one on the right on the bottom two pictures above and the one of the left on the picture directly above those.

Another note on the show, I really appreciated that there were no "romance" subplots at all during the show. I feel like most high school type shows force these in one way or another, but this show really just focused on the baseball and friendships, which I really appreciated.

In conclusion, it was a lot of fun to watch a show that I was able to experience emotions with, I haven't felt that way since XY series was airing. I just finished watching it today, so I felt like writing about it, which is what this blog was about, so probably not very relevant to anyone, but whatever, I just wanted to write about it.
 
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Weird, I thought this thread would be about Dragonball Z or Sailor Moon, the other usual "gateway" anime everyone watches besides Pokemon.
 
Aqua Ninja Frog
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Why does it seem like every anime has an all girl cast? Not that I am complaining, just making an observation.
 
To all children of the world - congratulations.
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Yeah, it's rare that someone's "gateway" anime isn't another kids show like Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, and the like. But glad you enjoyed it anyway!
 
more afraid of you
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Weird, I thought this thread would be about Dragonball Z or Sailor Moon, the other usual "gateway" anime everyone watches besides Pokemon.
Yeah, it's rare that someone's "gateway" anime isn't another kids show like Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, and the like. But glad you enjoyed it anyway!
Yeah I am aware, but those genres/types of stories aren't really my cup of tea, I don't watch much in general, so I really only watch things that are about stuff I really like.

Why does it seem like every anime has an all girl cast? Not that I am complaining, just making an observation.
Don't ask me, all I know is this and pokemon. It makes sense that a show about a girls baseball team would have an all girls cast though. It would have been difficult to tell the same story if it was a boys team, because a big part of the point was that girls baseball was still pretty uncommon. And coincidentally I was watching it at the time Pokémon announced its new anime that seems like it might be an all male cast (much to my personal disappointment).
 
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Watching different series is a good way to ease up frustration towards a particular series. My recommendation would be Digimon, not only because it has similarities to Pokemon but also because it has great characters and not much frustrating moments.
 
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