I’ve been watching a lot of Major recently, or rather, I’ve pretty much only been watching Major except for about three shows of the current season and I’ve developed some kind of love-hate relationship with the show. It’s good, very good since it managed to keep my attention for the 78 episodes that have aired so far but it is a shounen sports anime and comes with many of the frustrating elements you commonly see in any shounen anime. One of the major (no pun intended) disappointments is the lack of progression. Everything stays the same, the characters, the challenges and the relationships. The only thing that seems to be moving forward is the age of everyone, but they all still act pretty much the same.
That’s not a completely fair statement though, but pretty much all of the character development is given to the side characters leaving the protagonist Goro nothing more than a shounen stereotype. This is a real shame because when he is allowed to shine you can’t help but stare excitedly with wide open eyes if only for a moment before he does something typical and predictable. His fighting spirit is very inspiring, especially from a fictional one dimensional character, and it feels great whenever he manages to do the impossible with that smug arrogance he has. The backside is that you just feel annoyed whenever he fails and acts all surprised time and time again without changing his attitude, or realizing that noone is invincible. Despite this he has his moments when he takes a step forward but it is always set up to happen, and always with the help of someone else. I don’t think he ever opened his eyes himself.
This is not my biggest gripe however. It’s no big secret I’m a rather avid fan of romance and this is by far my biggest disappointment with the show. The canon pairing of the show has not only not progressed at all, it has actually regressed to being less than from the very beginning! There has been much gnashing of teeth as Goro has shown no interest in his would be love, if anything they have only drifted further away from each other. Now, you’re probably thinking “what did you expect?” and I know there can be no love-relationships in an anime that’s supposed to go on forever. Still, I can’t help myself!
If I have one fault it is being too critical, and this applies to Major as everything else. Taking everything in consideration I have watched 78 episodes in about two weeks, not feeling turned off by it at all and I’m totally looking forward to the fourth season in the beginning of 2008. Hell, I could count the shows that held my interest (or would have if they didn’t end, for that matter) for that long on one hand and still have a pair of fingers to spare. For what it is and what it sets out to do Major is extremely good. Watching the teams Goro is in grow and overcome obstacles on the way is like I said earlier is really inspirational and despite them overcoming impossible odds doesn’t feel contrived even once.
I think the reason why I like Major so much is because its obvious selling point, the games themselves, are as exciting as they are. Everything from the batting to the slides and dives are all very well animated but only are they nice to look at, each game is deep with lots of tactics and strategies that don’t feel all that far fetched from reality. Granted, I know nothing at all about baseball, having not seen a game even once but most things seen in the show seems plausible and I think I would actually understand what was going on should I watch a game of baseball one day. Effects are also used sparingly which helps keeping things realistic. The most appearant one is the turbulence created around Goro’s pitches to emphasize the speed of the ball and this really only helps the animation that otherwise would easily look pretty stale.
All in all Major is the best sports anime I’ve watched to date and if the fourth season manages to add more depth to Goro it is a hall of famer in the making.