Tamayomi: The Baseball Girls heads down a well-trodden sports anime mould, in this instance looking to explore the journey of an all-girls high school baseball team aiming to make it to the top while starting from nothing.
Yomi Takeda had given up baseball during middle school after finding herself discouraged that her team mates weren’t as mad about the sport as she was, but finds herself meeting up with her childhood friend (and fellow baseball fanatic) Tamaki Yamazaki when starting out at Shin Koshigaya High School. The two friends inadvertently resurrect the school’s baseball club after bringing in enough like-minded players to overcome the scandalous events that threatened to keep the school from playing in the high school leagues again. With an assortment of ball players, it’s up to the team’s wunderkind baseball genius Yoshino to see if their disparate skills will be enough to not only compete with other high school clubs in their region, but have a chance at progressing through the ranks to the championships.
Despite having a brother who played a lot of baseball in high school and consuming a lot of baseball-related pop culture (from the awkward Rookie of the Year all the way to the delightful time capsule Mr Baseball, and a whole stack of other movies in between), watching Tamayomi reminded me I don’t know a whole lot about the sport aside from the basics. You know, hitting the ball really hard and running around the diamond in slow motion, preferably with fireworks and other hyperbolic nonsense. Certainly as a kid I liked the bit where you hit the ball, but I wasn’t so good at the running part.
So I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to go with Tamayomi, but since I enjoy sports drama through a distinctively anime lens I figured it would be worth a go. Turns out this is actually a really fun, enjoyable anime with enough meat around the strategy of the game with a reasonably interesting cast. It manages to do a good job of keeping the narrative pace flowing without going too crazy either – a single game won’t end with hyperbolic cliff hangers after every pitch, but the team don’t assemble and start winning regional competitions through the power of love and friendship in the space of a few episodes.
Calo has been more active on the sports anime reviewing side of things at Anime Inferno than I so I feel a little underprepared in comparison, but reading her thoughts on anime series’ like Yowamushi Pedal, Haikyu!!, Free! or Yuri!!! One Ice points to the success of the formula if you manage to get it right. Unlike How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift? which I felt traded in the opportunity to tell an interesting story of progression in favour of teaching you how to go to a gym wrapped in unnecessarily large volumes of fanservice, Tamayomi does a good job of speaking to the journey and exploring the disparate characters that make up the team.
Interesting to note is that the series, while leaning on yuri elements throughout, did well to avoid the usual tropes around an all-girl cast with no beach (i.e. bikini) training days, hot spring class trips and leery change room sequences. The camera did get a little fixated on the characters’ muscular thighs at times, but on the whole the show seemed far more interested rolling in high school baseball theory and the motely team’s disparate but often complementary skills to tell a story that seemed to only touch on the broader manga but came off as confident in the decision to limit its scope.
Granted none of the characters themselves won’t blow you away with a huge degree of twists or developments, and the constant push on the power of love and friendship sometimes feels a little thin, but it doesn’t overplay its hand by stringing things out too much. It’s surprisingly balanced in that sense, which is a bit of an odd observation but I think a fair one.
The production was reasonably solid for Tamayomi as well. While there’s some reused animation (particularly from Yomi’s signature pitch), it’s clean and generally quite dynamic aside from the rather clunky use of CG during the baseball matches themselves. While this is understandable from a practical perspective and avoids an over-reliance on panning stills to indicate action sequences, it really felt at odds compared the bright and energetic animation for the rest of the series. Mind, CGI masquerading as anime generally rubs me the wrong way (something discussed further here and here), so this may be a moot point if you’re a far more reasonable weeb than I am.
The local Blu-Ray release of Tamayomi is another reverse import from Funimation. This means we get the nice cardboard outer shell which I’ve fast become very fond of, solid encoding and bilingual audio. Extras are slim but round out the package with creditless ops/eds and promo trailers.
Tamayomi: The Baseball Girls is a solid and fun show that does a great job at hitting the usual beats for a sports anime without succumbing to being an excuse for fanservice or getting a little carried with making the whole production over the top. It’s also very approachable if you’re reasonably unfamiliar with baseball which is a nice touch.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.