A seinen sports anime which could be the greatest addition to the psychological anime genre, ever!
One outs uses the idea that the protagonist is near-infallible and uses baseball as a playing ground for the mind games that have been aptly portrayed and goes with the plot. The characters are well defined and the plot has a healthy pace. One outs is the story of a gambler, Tokuchi Toua, in the world of professional baseball, where he out-classes the whole professional world with his wit and gambling experience. All while tackling the owner of his team (Lycaons).
The anime derives its name from the contract signed between the owner, Saikawa and the protagonist Tokuchi. The contract being, 10 million Yen for every out by Tokuchi but 50 million Yen for every run scored during his pitch. Seems like Tokuchi holds the shorter end of the stick? Not according to Tokuchi.
The anime lacks a good balance between the protagonist and the side characters. The brilliance of Tokuchi overcasts the character development of the other players even though they all seem to have a key role in what Tokuchi plans to do or they exist merely to add humour to the plot.
Tokuchi is shown to be in great control of the situation, so much so that the teams coach ends up being Tokuchi’s dog, sometimes literally! This greatly adds humour to the plot.
** Spoilers in Red**
This has been prevalent since the first episode, when Tokuchi is introduced for the first time along with the clean hitter of the Lycaons team, Hiromichi Kojima. Kojima is a star in the world of professional baseball and has proven his worth to the audience by scoring a win against Tokuchi, probably the only lose in Tokuchi’s ledger. This leads to Tokuchi joining Lycaons, all in an unexpected turn of events where Kojima uses the wordplay Tokuchi often resorts to outsmart his opponents while gambling against Tokuchi himself. Kojima seems to be the only one in the entire series who seems to have any control or understanding of Tokuchi’s actions. His use of wordplay on his statement ,”I shall take your right arm” was for a moment at par with Tokuchi’s standard of cunning. Perhaps his greatest moment in the anime where he outshines Tokuchi is when he understands the rule set by him and Tokuchi on what counts as a strike in the bet between them. Kojima was able to use his body to prevent getting struck out using his injured arm as a shield, using subtle technicality in the rules to his advantage.
Perhaps the most daunting challenges Tokuchi dealt with was one posed by the coach of the Bugaboos team in an episode most aptly called “Strategist vs Gambler”. Shirooka, the coach, was a master strategist and his character leads the plot towards the most complex psychological moments in the anime. Shirooka uses his players like the pieces on a chessboard and almost forces Tokuchi into a corner with his key player Johnson the runner.
**Spoilers in red**
With Johnson as his key piece, Shirooka uses the idea that a win is guaranteed if a runner runs in a shorter time to the bases than the time within which the ball can be thrown to the base. This creates an impossible scenario for Tokuchi as this iron Johnson-strategy is making him lose precious runs, about 50 Million Yen a run precious. Tokuchi eventually comes up with a brilliant plan to tire out Johnson and exposing Johnson’s greatest weakness and eventually wins the Tokuchi vs Shirooka war.
Tokuchi also fends off all efforts to make him give away points by the owner Saikawa, who sees the team as a tool for business and nothing more. This further room for use of psychological maneuvers in the plot, making the dynamic between Tokuchi and the owner a fun episode.
The mangaka of this anime, Shinobu Kaitani, deserves applause for setting such a unique plot and for minting a character so intelligent, cunning and messiah-like called Tokuchi Toua.
Overall, the anime fits in as one of the best psychological-sports animes out there. With a good plot-pace, appropriate use of animation and excellent use of psychological play in baseball. This anime is a must watch and it gets an impressive 8.4 Turnips out of 10!
Reception and Soundtracks
myanimelist.com has given One Outs 8.39/10
imdb.com has given One outs 8.4/10 with 937 votes
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