Moshidora 10: Ryū ga Gotoku
There was little doubt that the Hodokubo team would rise to the occasion, and rise they did in a truly magnificent fashion.
It’s actually rather difficult to comprehend just how awesome their play is without some basic knowledge of baseball. Fortunately, I managed to pick it all up while watching Moshidora. But if you need a little help, here’s an extremely simplified explanation:
Each team takes turns to play offense (to score) and defense (to stop the opponents from scoring). One cycle of offense-defense is called an inning. One game is comprised of 9 innings.
Offense: The batter has to hit the baseball and run through four ground markers called ‘bases’ to score a ‘run’. If he makes it to a base before the opposing player there receives the ball, the batter is ‘safe’. As subsequent batters hit the baseball, the original batter (now known as a runner) can continue to run to the next base. This continues until the batters miss a total of 3 pitches, at which their turn at offense ends.
Defense: The pitcher has to make the opponent batters miss a total of 3 pitches. If the baseball is struck within the pitch, the players stationed across the field have to catch/recover the baseball and throw it to the players guarding each base so as to ‘out’ the opponent runners and prevent them from eventually making their way to the fourth base (known as the home plate).
Now, Hodokubo’s game plan is the ‘no-bunt-no-ball’ strategy.
To ‘bunt’ is to deflect the ball gently. This is generally used to catch the opposing team off guard. Hodokubo plays without bunting, which means that every single batter has to hit the ball hard and accurately so as to grant a maximum amount of time for the runners to keep going.
To ‘ball’ is to deliberately pitch the baseball outside the batter’s strike zone (the zone in which he can hit the baseball). This is used to defend against strong batters, and 4 consecutive ‘balls’ allows the batter to make his way to first base safely. Hodokubo plays without balling, which means that the pitcher not only has to strike out the opponent batter, he also has to pitch well enough that if the batter hits, the baseball will not fly too far. All the other players have to catch/recover the baseball and throw it to the players guarding the bases as fast as possible.
Still with me so far? Good.
Now, Asano is undoubtedly a star of the team. But ultimately, while he pitched well, it was no different from his performance in previous matches
The other players keep to their roles – Kashiwagi (the guy in the first screencap), who’s always been known as the team’s catcher, notably reveals an unexpected aptitude for batting.
But Hoshide is still recognized as the best batter on the Hodokubo team. As he steps up, the opposing players move back, expecting a strong swing.
And this next part is brilliant.
The maneuver is just so classy that even though I knew he was going to pull something unexpected, it still thrilled me. It certainly didn’t hurt that he made it all the way to second base.
Obviously a violation of the game plan, but it makes it all the more effective because literally no one saw it coming.
Yūnosuke, a liability under pressure, manages to fake the opposing pitcher with a terrible first swing in the final inning of the game
Although an excellent move on his part, and he duplicated the exact same trick Manami used when she was in Junior High, it would have been for nothing if not for who I feel is the MVP on the Hodokubo team.
He is awesome. Originally from the track team, his speed has saved the team many times.
All he does is run, but somehow, watching him run is far more exciting than running should be.
And of course, he was the one who scored the final run to deliver Hodokubo the victory.
The coach finally shows some emotion for once.
Minami has a vision/dream of Yuki, sending her into a fit of tears and nostalgia.
I won’t deny that this really tore me up too. I didn’t think I’d grow this attached to Yuki at the start of the anime, and I certainly didn’t expect her death to hit me so hard.
So the Hodokubo team makes it to the Nationals, a dream finally fulfilled.
Minami continues to serve as a team manager, and is now wearing Yuki’s straw hat. I must say that while I’ll be missing Yuki tremendously, it really does look good on Minami too.
So this is this final episode of Moshidora. I’ll be making a final impressions post eventually, but I’ll say now that while it had its low points, Moshidora really came through in the end. I even started to like the ED, momo’s Daisuki Dayo (which I hated at the beginning), and I felt that it suited the ending montage very well.
On hindsight, I probably didn’t need to provide all that text on rules and scoring. But I suppose it’ll serve as a sort of stepping stone for anyone who wants to learn more about baseball.