The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: H2
Genre: Drama
Company: Ashi Productions
Format: 41 episodes
Dates: 1 Jun 1995 – 21 Mar 1996

Synopsis: Kunimi Hiro is a passionate and talented baseball player, but a career ending injury has him sidelined from the sport. He enrolls at a high school with no team, away from two of his close friends, and tries to forget about baseball. A budding friendship with a baseball fan at school draws him back in and after he finds out he has been misdiagnosed, his goals become clear: first, form a baseball team, and second, win the Koshien tournament.

The Highlights
The beginning: Is all this series is. Don’t expect a complete story.
Pacing: Very slow and meandering.
Relationships: The heart of the show. Fascinating and complex, but sometimes frustrating.
Arcs: The first one predictable, the second one promising but incomplete.

H2 is really about four H’s: the protagonist Hiro; his homerun hitting friend, Hideo; Hiro’s good friend, and Hideo’s girlfriend, Hikari; and the manager of the baseball appreciation club, Haruka. These four share one thing in common, their love of baseball, which brings them together. The first part of the series centres on Hiro’s mission to re-start his baseball career, with help from friend Noda Atsushi. The latter part shifts focus to the larger cast during their quest to make it to the Koshien tournament, the biggest stage for high school baseball in Japan.

The first arc of the series is often painfully slow, especially since it is clear from the start where the story is headed. The journey to get there feels dragged out, accomplishing little in terms of character development considering the number of episodes dedicated to it. The other characters are present but don’t have any great role other than to cheer Hiro on. It’s not until later in the series that the characters are able to shine and their relationships become more complex.

Writer Adachi Mitsuru is clearly adept at crafting friendships and relationships that feel genuine and challenging. Often a character’s feelings and intentions are conveyed through a look, a stammer or a glance. These are relationships that take work and show the inexperience of those involved. Each character has his or her own secrets and insecurities. Hikari in particular remains a bit of an enigma throughout the series. Her role in catalyzing the plot sometimes forces her into awkward scenes. Two mini-arcs concerning her come across as especially unnatural and forced. It is clear that there is more to her still to be discovered, but the story is cut short, to be continued in the manga. This is the anime’s greatest weakness.

Telling only part of a bigger story as a lead in to the manga does not necessarily doom a series to failure. It has been done numerous time before, sometimes with great success. But whereas other series like Kare Kano were able to tell worthwhile stories as part of a larger tale, H2 builds up to a phantom climax. From the start, the ball players all dream of making it to the Koshien tournament. They talk about it, train for it and daydream about it, and yet it never comes, at least not in the anime. The series closes at the end of a chapter, but leaves the viewer completely hanging. Several key new characters are introduced but never given the chance to have an impact. It feels as though too many episodes were wasted on the predictable setup leaving too few for the real story that came afterwards. This leads to a rushed and unfulfilling ending just when the series was really starting to grab my attention.

Overall, H2 is a series with some interesting characters and an obvious love for the sport of baseball. However, it can be flustering and doesn’t make the most of the time it has. It comes across as distinctly average in too many regards. Viewers unfamiliar with Adachi Mitsuru‘s works may be better served by first checking out his other, more famous works, Touch and Cross Game. At 41 episodes, this one is a big investment for just an introduction to the story.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Kaikyaku

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