Cover of volume 1
|Written by||Asa Higuchi|
|Original run||- present|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Tsutomu Mizushima|
|Written by||Y?suke Kuroda|
|Music by||Shir? Hamaguchi|
|Original network||TBS, MBS, Animax|
|Episodes||40 + 2 OVA|
Big Windup! (Japanese: ?, Hepburn: ?kiku Furikabutte), often shortened to just ?furi (?), is a baseball manga series by Asa Higuchi, serialized in the monthly seinen Afternoon magazine since 2003. It has been adapted into an anime television series, animated by A-1 Pictures, which premiered in Japan on TBS. It received its international television premiere on Animax's English language networks in Asia, Animax Asia.
The manga series won the prestigious Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize for best creative work in 2006. In 2007, it won the Kodansha Manga Award for general manga. The manga was on a 1-year hiatus, and it was resumed on the November 2011 issue of Afternoon (magazine).
The series, set in Saitama, follows the story of Ren Mihashi. Mihashi was the previous ace pitcher in his middle school's baseball team, but it seems that he only got the position because his grandfather was the owner of the school. His teammates (especially the team's catcher, Hatake) hated him, and they always lost their games. Mihashi is thoroughly convinced that he is a lousy baseball pitcher, and feels guilty because he believes that he is responsible for all the losses. Mihashi graduates through middle school with extremely low self-esteem. But in truth Mihashi is really a hardworking and skillful pitcher, and the main reason why his team always lost all the games is because of bad cooperation, because his teammates never talked about the game with him, and they did not try to come up with a plan or strategy to fight against their rivals. Mihashi then transfers to Nishiura High School with plans of quitting baseball because he thinks he is not good enough to succeed at it, though he still loves the game deeply. However, he is dragged into Nishiura's baseball team by their coach, Momoe, while watching the team training outside the field. Assisted by his new teammates (and especially the catcher, Takaya Abe), he grows in stature, confidence and skill, helping his team excel with his own abilities.
Ren Mihashi ( ?, Mihashi Ren) is the primary protagonist and the team's pitcher. His nervousness and extreme lack of self-confidence is at odds with his skill, a result of his passion for and dedication to pitching. Mihashi was ostracized by his middle school teammates, who believed he had been given his position of ace because his grandfather owns the school. During the time period, the catcher and team refused to cooperate during games, causing them to lose every game. Mihashi transfers to Nishiura High School afterward, where he joins their baseball team, though fears he will cause more losses. As the series progresses, Mihashi slowly gains more confidence in himself and trust in the team, especially the catcher, Abe. Despite this, Mihashi retains his skittish and shy personality. He shows to have cynophobia. Mihashi's voice actor is Tsubasa Yonaga, while Sean Michael Teague provides his voice in English.
Takaya Abe ( , Abe Takaya) is the catcher in the Nishiura High School baseball team. As such, he forms the team's battery along with Mihashi. Abe is a serious and mature character, whose short temper is often inadvertently provoked by Mihashi. He is very strategically minded and initially values Mihashi for his obedience in team games. Abe is a capable catcher, signaling Mihashi the right pitches after thoroughly examining his opponent. As the catcher, he successfully memorizes the quirks of the batter and what pitches they are weak against. As time progresses, Abe strives to win games to improve Mihashi's self-confidence. He often gets partially jealous toward Mihashi. Abe normally doesn't show his emotions to everyone, including Mihashi and the rest of the team. He has a tendency to nag and yell constantly, but later on he's more and more caring and open to Mihashi's feelings. In some episodes, he smiles. Abe's voice actor is Yuichi Nakamura, while Greg Ayres provides his voice in English.
Yuuichirou Tajima ( , Tajima Y?ichir?) is the cleanup hitter of the team. He is an outgoing, confident, friendly, and extremely perverted, and very talented at baseball. He is considered to be number 1 in his baseball team. However, because of his small build, he is unable to hit home runs, and relies on the team to complete runs. Tajima and Mihashi develop a friendship, and he is able to understand and elucidate Mihashi's sometimes incomprehensible attempts at communication to others. Many have commented that he acts as Mihashi's older brother. Tajima enjoys catching fast balls and, as a result, becomes a back-up catcher in case of Abe's absence and for training purposes. Tajima's voice actor is Hiro Shimono, while Todd Haberkorn provides his voice in English.
Azusa Hanai ( ?, Hanai Azusa) bats fifth for the team who batted cleanup in middle school. While originally presented as a hot-headed and rude character, he is later shown to be a relatively smart and observant person, and is unanimously voted to become team captain. He tries to surpass Tajima and compete with him, but decides that he must work for the good of the team, rather than taking risks to prove himself. Hanai's voice actor is Kish? Taniyama, while Joel McDonald provides his voice in English.
Yuuto Sakaeguchi ( , Sakaeguchi Y?to) usually bats in the second position. Sakaeguchi is very friendly and familiar with Abe from their attendance at the same middle school. When Abe and Mihashi have trouble understanding each other, Sakaeguchi generally attempts to mediate, being able to understand both of their mannerisms. Under stress, Sakaeguchi is known to get diarrhea, a trait revealed by Abe, who noticed it during their high school entrance exams. Sakaeguchi is closest to Suyama on the team, because they are in the same class. Unlike other members of the team, Sakaeguchi's mother is deceased. Sakaeguchi's voice actor is Chihiro Suzuki, while Aaron Dismuke provides his voice in English.
Kousuke Izumi (? , Izumi K?suke) is one of the more experienced characters on the team, shown to be good at batting, catching, and to be a fast base runner. He is in the same class as Mihashi and Tajima and is revealed to share their lunchtime activities of talking, eating, and then falling asleep. Izumi attended the same elementary and junior high school as Hamada, although up until high school Hamada was a year above him. He appears to enjoy antagonizing Hamada and does not treat him with the respect due to a former senior schoolmate. Due to his more serious personality, Izumi tends to get annoyed quickly, especially at Abe's constant bickering. Izumi's voice actor is Jun Fukuyama, while Chris Burnett provides his voice in English.
Shoji Suyama ( , Suyama Sh?ji) acts as the shortstop and third baseman of the team. A level-headed character, he is generally quieter and less rambunctious than his teammates, although he once reacts strongly to Momoe's offer of a particular brand of protein powder to which he harbors a strong dislike. It's revealed that Suyama doesn't share many of the boyish qualities the other Nishiura boys seem to have, such as fantasizing girls, emphasizing his more mature personality. In the series, he is closest to Sakaeguchi. Suyama's voice actor is Makoto Yasumura, while Anthony Bowling provides his voice in English.
Fumiki Mizutani ( , Mizutani Fumiki) is less skilled at baseball than some of the other members, and occasionally fumbles catches. This leads to Abe calling him the "Crap Left". Many of Mizutani's hits at bat are entirely based on luck; he admits that he does not have a good eye for the ball. He appears to be the most simple-minded of the Nishiura team, often sharing the same goofiness as Mihashi. Mizutani appears to enjoy listening to music, as he is almost always seen with headphones on outside of practice. Mizutani's's voice actor is Kenichir? Sumi, while Jean-Luc Hester provides his voice in English.
Kazutoshi Oki (? , Oki Kazutoshi) is Nishiura's reserve pitcher and first baseman. He is a very shy and nervous character who rarely speaks his mind because he is afraid that he might be scolded by the others. He has more pitching experience than Hanai, but was reluctant to admit it as he didn't want to pitch in official games. However, he is inspired by Mihashi's dedication and decides to try his best for the team. Oki's voice actor is Y?dai Sat?, while Chris Cason provides his voice in English.
Shintarou Nishihiro ( , Nishihiro Shintar?) is Nishiura's reserve player and is often seen sitting in the benches cheering his team on. Nishihiro is always the base coach next to third base when Nishiura is on the offense. He is a beginner at baseball and therefore has little experience playing. When he does play in games, he often plays the position of left fielder. He is supposedly one of the smartest first years at school because he never has to study for tests. Nishihiro's voice actor is Ry?hei Kimura, while Scott Hinze provides his voice in English.
Maria Momoe ( , Momoe Maria) is the head coach of the baseball team, and the most prominent adult character in the series. At the start of the series, she mentions that she is a graduate of Nishiura, which used to offer softball instead of baseball. The team nicknames her "Momokan", short for "Momoe-kantoku" (Coach Momoe), and develop a respect for her, though often find her intimidating. Momoe is physically strong and is very dedicated to the baseball team, working menial side jobs to help pay for equipment. Though several characters comment on the peculiarity of having a female coach for a baseball team, Momoe is shown to be competent in the role. Momoe has a small dog named Ai who accompanies the team to practice, including practice games with other teams. Momoe's voice actress is Risa Hayamizu, while Cynthia Cranz provides her voice in English. She is also very attractive described by most of the baseball team.
Chiyo Shino'oka ( , Shinooka Chiyo) is the manager, a position equivalent to a secretary, of the baseball team. A very hardworking and earnest character, she has great pride in the baseball team and takes great strides in helping them, from making rice balls to writing detailed reports about opposing teams. As manager, she has memorized much information about her own team, and knows all of their full names and birthdays. She stated that she has no romantic interest in anyone on the team, but it is later revealed that she has feelings for Abe, though she won't act upon them to avoid awkwardness in the team. She went to the same middle school as Abe and Sakaeguchi, where she played softball in the position of shortstop. Chiyo also loves trying on other school's uniforms, and often swaps uniforms with her friends and takes pictures. Shino'oka's voice actress is Misato Fukuen, while Cherami Leigh provides her voice in English.
Tsuyoshi Shiga ( , Shiga Tsuyoshi) is the teacher advisor responsible for the baseball team. Though he is a math teacher, Shiga-sensei appears to have a great deal of knowledge about the body and how it works, although he doesn't know much about baseball. His relaxing and concentrating methods of meditation help Mihashi and the others to mentally grow as a team. Shiga's voice actor is Takehiro Murozono, while Chuck Huber provides his voice in English.
Yoshirou Hamada ( , Hamada Yoshir?) is a childhood friend of Mihashi. Though they used to play baseball together when they were young, Hamada has quit playing for an unknown reason, supposedly because of "Little League elbow", which refers to an elbow injury caused by pitching too much when he was younger. Hamada founded the baseball team's cheering squad and is very good at sewing. Mihashi calls him by his childhood nickname, Hama-chan, which has been adopted by other members of the baseball team. He attended the same elementary school and junior high as Izumi, and the two appear to be very familiar with each other, though Izumi shows him no respect despite Hamada being a year older. Hamada was held back a year due to missing school because he had to work part-time to earn money. He lives by himself as his family has moved to find jobs elsewhere and has a reputation among the girls in his class, but this seems to be just rumor. Hamada's voice actor is Atsushi Kisaichi, while Christopher Bevins provides his voice in English.
Keisuke Umehara ( , Umehara Keisuke) and Riki Kajiyama ( ?, Kajiyama Riki) are two of Hamada's friends and former classmates who agree to join the baseball teams cheering squad. Umehara is voiced by Takashi Hikita in Japanese, and they are respectively voiced by Eric Vale and J. Michael Tatum in English.
Several opposing teams are introduced in Big Windup!. Mihoshi Academy's team is a prominent subject, as Mihashi had left them after his three years as ace pitcher. Along with the battery Kanou and Hatake, the team has Hiroyuki Oda, a cleanup hitter who speaks in a Kansai dialect in Japanese, and the American equivalent southern accent in English. Musashino First is the team where Haruna resides as ace pitcher. Originally lazy and laid-back, the team is later stirred into action by Haruna's desire to end the team's mediocrity. Along with Haruna, the team includes Naoto Kaguyama, the starting pitcher, Ohkawa, the team captain, and Kyouhei Akimaru, a kind back-up pitcher for Haruna. Suzune Miyashita is the team's manager who is dating Ohkawa. Tosei High School was the previous year's Koshien winner, who underestimated the skill of Nishiura. Junta Takase is the Tosei's ace pitcher, who uses sinkers and forkballs to strike out batters, while Kazuki Kawai is the team captain.
Shuugo Kanou (, Kano? Sh?go) was Mihashi's former teammate who took the role of starting pitcher after Mihashi left and uses a forkball as a strikeout pitch. His team had said that he would have been the ace pitcher of the team if Mihashi's grandfather, who owned the school, had not made Mihashi the starting pitcher. However, Kanou refuses to accept the notion, seeing Mihashi's true potential as an ace pitcher and angry at how the team treated him. As such, he is the first of his team to play seriously against Nishiura in a practice game until convincing the others to as well. Kanou and Mihashi were friends during childhood and Mihashi occasionally refers to him by the nickname "Shu-chan". In fact, at the last episode of season one, Kanou smiles upon hearing this and says excitedly, "He's calling me by my first name! It's like we're little kids again!". Kanou's voice actor is Jun Oosuka, while Jamie McGonnigal provides his voice in English.
Atsushi Hatake (? , Hatake Atsushi) is the catcher for the Mihoshi team. He was the most opposed to Mihashi being their ace pitcher in middle school, believing that Kanou was a better pitcher and deserved the position more. Hatake goes as far as to threaten to break Mihashi's arm, even after he had left and joined Nishiura, but is later convinced by Kanou to take him seriously. Hatake and the rest of the team makes amends after losing to Mihashi and his teammates, though Hatake still stubbornly declares Kanou the better pitcher. Hatake's voice actor is Shintarou Oohata, while Josh Grelle provides his voice in English.
Motoki Haruna ( , Haruna Motoki) is Musashino's back-up pitcher and a former teammate of Abe, whose goal is to become a professional baseball player. At first, he refused Abe to be his catcher because of Abe's short height and doubted his ability as a catcher. Though they grow closer, Abe begins to dislike Haruna's principles about pitching; he refuses to throw more than 80 pitches and use his full strength, while also being protective of his throwing arm, and was unwilling to throw a slider due to a mosquito bite. Haruna's current catcher, Akimaru, noted that Haruna seemed more aggravated and wild in his middle school years, and expressed an understanding for Abe's feelings. On the Musashino team, Haruna is shown to be very hard-working and instills determination into the team, particularly Naoto Kaguyama, who would have quit without Haruna's interference. Haruna's voice actor is Masaya Matsukaze, while Kevin M. Connolly provides his voice in English.
Ruri Mihashi ( , Mihashi Ruri) is the cousin of Ren Mihashi. When they were young, Mihashi and his family visited Ruri and they often played together with Kanou, leading him and Mihashi to develop a friendship. During his middle school games, he told Ruri to not attend and thus did not tell her when the games took place, embarrassed and ashamed for his failures. She cheered for Nishiura during their game against Tosei, surprised by how Mihashi had skillfully played during the game. Ruri enjoys calling Mihashi by the nickname Renren, much to his dismay. Mihashi's teammates even teased him upon hearing Ruri call him by that nickname. She has a younger brother named Ryuu. Ruri's voice actress is Marina Inoue, while Monica Rial provides her voice in English.
While growing up in Saitama, Asa Higuchi became familiar with baseball by reading the manga Dokaben. When she was in high school, the story of a local baseball team wound up inspiring her to come up with the idea for her own baseball manga. In the original version, Mihashi never spoke and characters like Momoe, Kanou and Haruna did not exist yet. Following that, she collected data on high school baseball for over 10 years in order to create the manga, and she worked with the school she had attended, Urawanishi High School, in the year prior to the serialization. In fact, Urawanishi seems to have been the design for the school that the Nishiura boys attend. The two names are similar as well.
Five months prior to the serialization of ?kiku Furikabutte in Afternoon, Higuchi published a one shot in the magazine titled "The Basic of Basics". The story was centered around the characters of the Musashino Dai Ichi school, who would show up in the series itself.
Currently has 32 volumes.
The series is adapted into a TV anime series, animated by A-1 Pictures, which premiered in Japan on TBS from April 2007. It also aired during the same month across several of TBS's affiliated TV networks, including MBS, BS-i and CBC. One month later, the series also aired on the Japanese Animax. The series was also subsequently aired in English across Animax's English language networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia. A second season was announced in the 13th volume of the manga. The first episode aired on April 2, 2010. The second season has been licensed by Right Stuf Inc..
It also came with a collectible screen-cleaner which looks like Ren's shirt (it has number 1 on the back).
Merchandise of Big Windup! includes action figures, key chains, plush dolls, and branded stationery.
Big Windup! has achieved both critical and commercial success in Japan. In 2007, it won the Kodansha Manga Award for general manga, and the 11th volume of the manga was the best selling manga volume in its week of release, and sold over 400,000 copies in its first three weeks of release. Unfortunately, this success was not duplicated in the North American market. Lance Heiskell, Marketing Director of Funimation announced in January 2010 that the company had no plans to release the second season of the animated adaptation. In 2010 the manga sold 1,080,839 copies.Big Windup! was the 41st best selling manga in 2011, with 1,097,910 copies sold.Nikkei Entertainment magazine published a list of top 50 manga creators by sales since January 2010, in its September 2011 issue; Asa Higuchi, the author of Big Windup! was ranked 30th, with 2,241,000 copies sold.