Original Title: 地獄甲子園
Genres: Sports, Action, Comedy, Shock Gore, Musical
Director: Yamaguchi Yudai
Seido High’s principal has a dream that one day the school’s baseball team would succeed at Koshien – Japan’s grand stage for high school baseball. However, everyone’s dreams are put on hold with the announcement of Seido’s next baseball opponent: Gedo High – a school of murderous zombies. Gedo high is known for (quite literally) murdering their opponents, slaughtering and mutilating the opposition in the most inhuman ways possible.
Everyone’s hope is lost. That is, until the arrival of transfer student Jubei (Sakaguchi Tak), who proves to be a suitable fighter when defending Four-Eyes (Ito Atsushi), a member of the baseball team, against a gang of delinquents. He catches the eye of the Principal, who begs Jubei to join the baseball team and defeat the fearful Gedo High.
Battlefield Baseball tries to be something like a Monty Python film, and has many moments showing heads exploding. However, the plot points start becoming too random, and in turn everything ends up flat. It’s like watching an episode of Excel Saga or Cromartie High, but with more madness. Whether that’s a positive or negative is up to you.
The premise is pretty nuts to begin with, too. It’s about a high school baseball team partaking in “fighting baseball” in an effort to not only do well in Koshien, but to also keep their lives. Then the lone stranger strolls into town to save the day, being more able to fight man-to-man than actually play baseball. With his arrival, the team’s hope is revived, and they become confident in their ability to defeat their opponents.
Don’t let the title of the film fool you. Battlefield Baseball is as much about baseball as Shaolin Soccer is about flying airplanes. It’s unknown as to why baseball is even featured in the first place, when all that happens in a “baseball game” is the severing of heads and the blowing up of bodies. The film basically wasted opportunities to use baseball creatively, save for one moment when the lead character Jubei had a face-off against a gang leader armed with a bat; it featured more baseball elements than any of the games the characters had.
The one positive thing about Battlefield Baseball is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. After all, who who can take serious a film in which the lead character breaks into song to lament about his tragic past to explain his oath to never play baseball again to a teammate. Keep in mind that this character is a bad ass – not any different all the characters that Sakaguchi Tak has ever played.
However, as fun as other films of similarly insane themes are, Battlefield Baseball is really a can of worms. Take the whole hype on Jubei’s oath to never play baseball again, which he made because of his lethal pitch. The story hypes it as being something that can be used to take down Gedo High, but it ends up being forgotten and never mentioned again.
The film would have been more entertaining if they didn’t try to squeeze in every cliched twist and turn from every sports film ever. The premise was ridiculous, but potentially excellent. Instead of having a crazy film that would make us want to have what Yamaguchi Yudai and Kitamura Ryuhei were smoking, we have one that makes us want to find a way to regrow the brain cells we lost.
Watch this film…
…if you like random randomness invading your brain.