Episode 1’s Most Motivating Scene Could Only Happen In Animation
Taiga from Tribe Nine is a fisherman turned extreme baseball player. Episode 1 reveals how his mind works, and it could make him the best player on the show.
WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Episode 1 of Tribe Nine, which is currently streaming on Funimation.
Tribe Nine eventually premiered on Funimation. The sci-fi sports anime is set in a world where gangs must resolve their differences by playing “Extreme Baseball” or “XB” – a version of baseball with mechanical suits, arm cannons, and landfills. electrical. Another surprising element of Tribe NineXB’s experience is how it conveys a player’s approach to the game.
Episode 1 introduces Taiga, a character who introduces himself as “the world’s best tuna fisherman overseas”. He seems to have a swaggering and boastful personality, stepping in to save the sweet Haru Shirokane from attackers but challenging legendary player Shun Kamiya to a game of XB. Ultimately however, Kamiya drafts Taiga to join his team, the Minato Tribe, as they are challenged to play XB against the wealthy Shinagawa Tribe.
When Taiga comes up to bat, Shinagawa leader and pitcher Yutaka Gotanda is relieved to be up against a “simple guy” with “a simple thought”. Sure enough, Taiga misses his first two shots. Minato’s Manami Daimon yells, “Too much power! Lower your voice, Taiga!” Taiga replies, “Hell no! When you’re fishing, you have to set the hook like a boss!” At this point, the scene’s message clearly seems to be that Taiga is so obsessed with fishing that he forces everything he does into a fishing comparison, even to his own detriment.
When Gotanda throws the next pitch, Minato’s other new recruit, Haru, is shocked to discover that the urban playground is suddenly submerged in water, with fish swimming near his face. Gotanda’s ball takes the shape of a tuna and Taiga effortlessly pushes it away. Haru gasps and bubbles escape from his mouth. The scene returns to normal, but the image of Taiga hitting the ball fades into an image of Taiga catching a fish, his bat replaced with a fishing rod.
This image of Taiga could be one of his memories, especially since his smart street clothes blend into overalls. It conveys, without dialogue, exactly how Taiga taps into his fishing memories to aid him in the game. Likewise, the earlier image of the water-filled field allows the audience to step into Taiga’s inner world. Taiga may not be the perfect XB player, but when he thinks of the game in terms of fishing, he dominates the court – a far cry from Daimon and the public’s initial impression of him as an obsessive loudmouth. Visually replacing the field with the sea is a much more effective way to explain this than just having Taiga describe the comparison.
The scene takes advantage of Tribe Nine being an animated series. Filling a scene with water to convey a character’s thoughts would be difficult in a live-action format, but the sudden transition between land and sea would be nearly impossible. A live action should probably use animation to achieve this effect. The scene of Haru panting underwater is particularly notable; a complete fantasy that is powerful because of the way it completes the transition from the weird but gritty world of Tribe Nine to a world of total imagination.
The scene is also beautiful in itself. “Minato Tower” immersed in water, is a striking image, especially in the tron-the neon-esque world of Neo Tokyo. The Tunas themselves are incredibly detailed considering this sports anime probably won’t require the designs to be reused very often. Their animated movements vary from swimming peacefully to reinforce the visuals of the aquatic environment, to viciously and inexorably dashing towards Taiga as a substitute for the ball.
When Taiga tackles a Shinagawa baseman (XB has a lot of rule changes from regular baseball), the image fades for him laying down a huge bass on a market. Taiga successfully reaches the base. Kamiya asks Haru, “Did you see the ocean too?” This raises an intriguing question about the previous scene: Was it merely a visual metaphor to convey Taiga’s unexpected mindset and skills, or a visual filter created as a supernatural side effect of Extreme Baseball’s bizarre play? Kamiya could literally mean his question, or he could ask Haru, “Did you also experience Taiga’s skills so viscerally that you could see the source of the passion that drove him?”
Only one episode of the anime has been released so far, but the rest of the series will surely reveal more about XB’s true nature. Whether the effect is physically present in the anime world or not, the series will hopefully reveal other players’ inner thoughts in equally creative and visually inventive ways.
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