:: THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO OOFURI
Ookiku Furikabutte, also known as simply Oofuri for short, is one of those crazy Japanese cartoons except that it's not really all that crazy - it's about normal people with no wacky special animeish powers whatsoever. SO, it's a cartoon... about... baseball. There's a bunch of different teams that try to defeat each other in a high school baseball tournament. Baseball is a sport where some guy throws a ball and some other guy tries to hit it with a bat and then there's a lot of running and shouting.
The cartoon, which was released in spring 2007, is closely based on the comic version which has been around since 2003. Said comic gets released monthly in a thick ol' comic magazine called Afternoon, and despite being created by a woman, it's generally meant for older boys.
Oofuri's official English title is 'Big Windup!' This is not a direct translation of the Japanese title, but it's as close as it gets without sounding ridiculous (the direct translation would be something like 'wind up largely'). The word 'furikaburu,' the dictionary form of the title's 'furikabutte,' means 'to wind up,' referring to the motion the pitchers do before throwing. The word is kind of specific and doesn't seem to appear in Japanese/English dictionaries.
It all began with a baseball team known as Mihoshi! The team's pitcher, funnily enough named Mihashi, left the team because the majority of his teammates hated his guts - they all wanted another guy, Kano, to pitch, but Mihashi refused to give up his pitcher position. Until he decided to leave the whole team, that is.
SO!! Having just entered high school, Mihashi joins a NEW team called Nishiura! He instantly teams up with the catcher, Abe. Abe thinks Mihashi is a swell pitcher, but he doesn't like his personality. Oh well, Abe thinks, it's not like they actually have to be FRIENDS. They'll just have to work together, riiight? OH WE'LL JUST SEE ABOUT THAT!
THE CHARACTERS, LISTED BY TEAMS
The heartwarming team Mihashi joined after getting chased off Mihoshi, Nishiura is a newly formed baseball team, and the members have yet to get to know each other for real. Despite that, the team members are incredibly supportive of each other, and work as hard as they can to reach their goals.
REN MIHASHI a.k.a Renren ( - mihashi ren)
What we have here is the number one dweebiest cartoon character in the entire WORLD. He's jumpy and twitchy and lets people walk all over him, but despite all that, he's quite strong willed, which is why he didn't want to give up his pitcher position. He loves pitching more than anything else.
TAKAYA ABE ( - abe takaya)
Abe is Nishiura's catcher. Because his old pitcher companion didn't take school baseball seriously, Abe thinks Mihashi's love for pitching makes him a most excellent player. Although Abe didn't like Mihashi's personality much to begin with, once he realized just how hard Mihashi worked, he pretty much became obsessed with him. Abe really wants to help Mihashi become a star, but he gets fed up and angry real quick and tends to explode in Mihashi's face every so often.
AZUSA HANAI ( - hanai azusa)
Hanai tries to cover up the fact that he's a huge dork by acting all tough and crud. Still, he's very mature and responsible, which is why he's become Nishiura's captain. He tends to angst a lot over the fact that Tajima is better than him at baseball.
YUICHIRO TAJIMA ( - tajima yuuichirou)
Most likely the most talented player on Nishiura, Tajima can hit ANYTHING! But with great talent comes great goofiness - Tajima is the kind of character who would gladly take off his clothes and talk loudly about his masturbating habits in public. He's very loud and hyperactive and is always happy and optimistic, and he's nice and supportive to everyone.
YUTO SAKAEGUCHI ( - sakaeguchi yuuto)
Sakaeguchi pretty much defines the word 'dork'. He's an absolute sweetheart and probably the biggest gentleman in the entire cartoon - he's very friendly, and always makes sure to be around to support Mihashi whenever he freaks out.
KOSUKE IZUMI ( - izumi kousuke)
A semi-neglected character, Izumi appears to be a bit of a smartass. He's in the same class as Mihashi, Tajima and Hamada.
SHOJI SUYAMA ( - suyama shouji)
Not much has been revealed about Suyama either, but he's a calm and well behaved kind of guy.
KAZUTOSHI OKI ( - oki kazutoshi)
Oki has a really big nose. He's one of Nishiura's backup pitchers, and the most important thing about him seems to be the fact that he's left handed... so he doesn't get much attention on the show.
FUMIKI MIZUTANI ( - mizutani fumiki)
Mizutani hasn't gotten much character development either, but he seems to be quite a bit of a dork and a klutz. Not quite as dorky as say, Sakaeguchi, but he's still pretty dang dorky.
SHINTARO NISHIHIRO ( - nishihiro shintarou)
Nishihiro is really smart! Rumors say he doesn't even have to study before tests, so he helps the more troubled students (Mihashi and Tajima) with their studies. He's still a beginner when it comes to baseball, though.
MARIA MOMOE a.k.a Momokan ( - momoe maria)
Momoe is Nishiura's coach who just loves to give out harsh constructive criticism! She's horribly strict (although always in a good mood) and will do anything to make sure her team kicks ass.
TSUYOSHI SHIGA ( - shiga tsuyoshi)
Some kind of teacher dude who gives the team mental training and teaches them how to relax on command. He likes to ramble about stupid stuff.
CHIYO SHINOOKA ( - shinooka chiyo)
The team's manager! She just LOVES baseball and takes her job very seriously, always stressing around to make sure everything's A-OK.
YOSHIRO HAMADA a.k.a Hama-chan ( - hamada yoshirou)
Mihashi's childhood BFF, Hamada is actually a year older, but is in the same class as Mihashi because he was held back a year due to stupidity (at least that's what he says - his nerdy friends have been hinting that there might be a more dramatic story behind it). Hamada is the one who formed the cheering squad for Nishiura, and he's very friendly, helpful and supportive.
RIKI KAJIYAMA AND KEISUKE UMEHARA ( - kajiyama riki and - umehara keisuke)
Hamada's nerdy friends! He made them join the cheering squad. Like most nerds, they're kinda nervous around the sports players.
The mothers of various Nishiura players! They all came to cheer for their sons when they played against Tosei, how nice.
Mihashi's previous team that sucked in middle school because the other players didn't want to cooperate with Mihashi because of his selfishness.
SHUGO KANO a.k.a Shu-chan ( - kanou shuugo)
Mihoshi's current pitcher, he's the only team member who ever believed in Mihashi and his abilities. Kano is a very friendly guy with a short backstory of being friends with Mihashi since childhood. Although he's nice, Kano has an extremely short temper, and there was an incident where he went ballistic because his teammates didn't take him seriously when he insisted that Mihashi was a good pitcher.
ATSUSHI HATAKE ( - hatake atsushi)
Hatake was SO obsessed with the idea of Kano being Mihoshi's pitcher that he made sure to make Mihashi's life as miserable as possible, since Mihashi got in the way of Kano being the pitcher and all. He's very angry and violent and he adores Kano.
HIROYUKI ODA ( - oda hiroyuki)
The only Mihoshi player who never gets fired up ever - he's very laid back and in control. He's a new player, meaning that he didn't experience the drama with Mihashi.
MIYAGAWA, HIIRAGI, YOSHI, KADOTA, TAGUCHI AND MATSUOKA
The rest of the Mihoshi first-years who played in the practice match against Nishiura are SO neglected they haven't even been given first names yet, but they're a bit of an angry mob who hate Mihashi and love Kano. Out of the characters listed here, Miyagawa, Yoshi and Hiiragi were Mihoshi players back in middle school.
RURI MIHASHI ( - mihashi ruri)
Mihashi's abusive cousin person and Kano's neighbor.
This team really sucked before Haruna came along to brighten things up! After Haruna and his awesomeness became a part of the team, they finally started to take training more seriously and realize that hey, they actually have a chance of winning!
MOTOKI HARUNA ( - haruna motoki)
Poor Haruna is surrounded by whiny people who want him to take baseball more seriously! Haruna himself is under the impression that to become a successful professional baseball player, it's extremely important for him not to strain himself when playing silly unimportant school baseball matches. Back in middle school, he was Abe's pitcher companion, and Abe kept begging him to take things more seriously and pitch with all his might. Personality wise, Haruna is kind of silly, fun and unpredictable.
KYOHEI AKIMARU ( - akimaru kyouhei)
Akimaru is a catcher who appears to sometimes work with Haruna and with Kaguyama other times. Not much is known about him yet. He's a pretty normal friendly guy who often finds himself trying to keep Haruna in check.
NAOTO KAGUYAMA ( - kaguyama naoto)
There was an entire chapter in the comic where Kaguyama was being extremely angsty and even wanted to quit playing baseball. Said chapter got turned into a special direct-to-DVD episode later on. Kaguyama lacks confidence and is quite a dweeb, but with inspiration from Haruna, he's decided to work harder.
Ookawa is Musashino's captain! He's harsh and violent, but still has a bit of a more silly and awkward side. He doesn't get along with Haruna very well.
SUZUNE MIYASHITA ( - miyashita suzune)
Musashino's enthusiastic manager! She happens to be dating Ookawa, and knows how to keep him in check.
Last year's champions, this functional and established team will be Nishiura's first opponent in the summer tournament.
KAZUKI KAWAI a.k.a Kazu-san ( - kawai kazuki)
The catcher and captain of Tosei, Kazuki is very mature, responsible and nice. He's BFFs with Junta and according to Rio, they act like a married couple.
JUNTA TAKASE a.k.a Jun-san ( - takase junta)
Tosei's pitcher and Kazuki's BFF, Junta's hobbies include making fun of Rio and laughing at people behind their backs.
RIO NAKAZAWA ( - nakazawa riou)
Rio is extremely grouchy and unenthusiastic. He has a grudge against Haruna because Rio's brother invited him to join his team, but Haruna rejected him.
SHINGO SHIMAZAKI, JIN MASHIBA, TOSHIHIKO MAEKAWA, TAKEHIKO AOKI, MASAYA MATSUNAGA, YUJI MOTOYAMA AND KEISUKE YAMANOI
The rest of Tosei!
Sakitama is a humble, homely team that is just kind of losery but still managed to win a couple of times in the tournament mostly thanks to their single amazing player. They have a history of having many team members quit, so there are very few players left and some of them had to take positions they're not really suited for.
HIROKI OYAMA a.k.a Tai-san ( - oyama hiroki)
Sakitama's captain. As the only third-year of Sakitama, Oyama has experienced tons of baseball club members leaving the club. As a result, Oyama fusses over his few remaining teammates a lot and never criticizes them, even when they need it. He is an utter sweetheart and his teammates do seem very fond of him. Oyama's nickname, Tai-san, comes from a Japanese phrase expressing a particular personality type, "Oyama no Taishou" (Boss of the Mountain).
YUTAKA ICHIHARA a.k.a It-chan ( - ichihara yutaka)
The pitcher of the team. He'd really rather not pitch, but because of Sakitama's lack of players, no one else can take the position. Ichihara has a tendency to whine, but he will do anything he can to help his team win, both because of his own desire to do so and for the sake of his teammates. He thinks constructive criticism is important and doesn't agree with Oyama's constant sugar-coating.
DAICHI SAKURA ( - sakura daichi)
The catcher even though he is way too scatterbrained for the position, but Sakitama has to go with what they have! Daichi has been ridiculously overpowered all his life, and easily managed to become the star player of the team. Despite his extreme power, he is very humble and has a tendency to blame himself for everything. He has a very bright and friendly personality, though.
MASATO SAWAMURA a.k.a Sawa ( - sawamura masato)
Sawamura keeps himself in the background most of the time, but as he appears to be the most level-headed team member, he steps in whenever his teammates get a bit too fired up. He's easily able to tell when Ichihara is about to get an angry outburst.
MITSUTERU TANAKA, ATSUSHI FURUSAWA, RYOICHI KAMIMURA, REIICHI HARADA AND TORU SUGITA
The rest of Sakitama!
BIJO DAI SAYAMA!!!
This team is manly and terrifying! They have not been properly introduced yet, but watch this space.
ROKA NAKAZAWA ( - nakazawa roka)
One of Bijo's coaches and Tosei's Rio's older brother, Roka played for Tosei himself back in the day. He is a rather angry and terrifying older brother.
TOMOYA TAKII ( - takii tomoya)
Takii is a tiny little 20 year old man and also Bijo's main coach... or something... see, there are two words for 'coach' around these here parts - 'coach' and 'kantoku.' Takii is the 'kantoku,' same as Momoe and Wolverine. EITHER WAY, Takii is lots of fun and likes to mingle with the Bijo players as if he were a player himself.
TAKESHI KURATA ( - kurata takeshi)
Takeshi got to play as the catcher for their match against Nishiura because of his willingness to play dangerously rough. He is very angsty about this, however.
NAOMASA MIYATA ( - miyata naomasa)
Takeshi's rival for the catcher position, Naomasa has a very righteous and heroic personality and is willing to accept Takeshi with the position although he will keep fighting for it.
MAKOTO WADA ( - wada makoto)
Bijo's jolly captain with a tendency to hit homeruns.
YOSHITO TAKENOUCHI ( - takenouchi yoshito)
Bijo pitcher #1, and the ace of the team. His skills aren't that out of the ordinary, but he's reliable to make up for it. Yoshito is the strong, silent type character, but he is very competitive and there's no way he'll lose to a coeducation school with a female coach.
TAKUMI KASHIMA ( - kashima takumi)
Bijo pitcher #2! Takumi can throw better than Yoshito, but only once he gets into the groove, which may take a while. He's generally a friendly character, but he seems to get along with Naomasa better than Takeshi.
YU SAITO ( - saitou yuu)
Bijo pitcher #3! Not much is known about Yu, but he is possibly the best pitcher on the team since Takii is kind of obsessed with preserving him.
ATSUSHI YANO a.k.a Yanojun ( - yano atsushi)
Yano is the resident gloomy party crasher, but while he doesn't exactly have the sunniest personality in the world, he's a reliable teammate.
KO KAWASHIMA, TETSURO ISHIKAWA, KENTARO KITAMURA AND TAKAMITSU MATSUSHITA
The rest of Bijo!
There's been some serious foreshadowing involving this team, so what will happen to them in the cartoon in the future??
AOI SUZUKI ( - suzuki aoi)
The pitcher half of the Magical Kasukabe Twin Battery. He is the older twin.
RYO SUZUKI ( - suzuki ryou)
The catcher half of the Magical Kasukabe Twin Battery. He appears to be more levelheaded than his brother.