The wheels on the bus go round and round, into another dimension.
What They Say:
Yukitaka and the rest of the members of the Kisaragi baseball time stop and catch their breath... Is this... the Koshien? Why are they suddenly at that place? Amid the confusion, the siren sounds signaling the start of a game. What will be the fate of Kisaragi High's baseball team?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the premise put forth at the start of the series that there are innumerable alien species out there and many of them live among us for a variety of reasons, it shouldn't be a surprise that strange things happen all around us. Case in point is this episode, which introduces to a group of high school baseball players who have found themselves caught up in a moment of time that has stopped, leaving the world very quiet all around them. The lack of familiar sounds, of a bustling town and all the noises that comes from it, is pretty disturbing to them and they're not sure what to make of it. Especially as their bus just suddenly appears in the middle of the stadium when they were previously just rolling right along on the highway.
The stadium definitely has an unusual feel to it as there's a sense of otherworldliness about it and the fact that certain identifying features clearly aren't there. Of course, it doesn't help that the Prince has snuck into the bus for the game and so he gets to be part of the entire adventure as well. The further they explore the place, the more the strangeness of it shows up. What becomes apparent is that only the parts that could be seen on TV have been made, which is why a lot of the details simply aren't there, and why there's no actual exit to it. Prince is actually trying to be a little bit helpful with this, which is good since Captain Craft is finding himself dragged into events as one of his men witnessed the dimensional transport and there's a sense of responsibility about it.
Naturally, the show spends its time doing two things in particular. The first is coming to an understanding of the situation and figuring out the best approach to getting out of it. With the idea, promoted by the Prince no less, that being trapped in this space means someone has a fear or a stress that's keeping them, they have to figure out what it is. And being that they're a baseball team on the way to a game, stress over a game seems the most likely thing so it's best to spend time playing a game. And with the Prince up in the booth calling the game, it's pretty straightforward stuff as they work through it and deal with the surreal situation. While all this goes on, Craft and his group inch ever closer but they have their own issues as well along the way that leaves them dealing with their own stumbling blocks.
Going to the core characters that appeared in the first storyline is welcome, especially since they made a cute couple and the interactions with the Prince was a lot of fun at the start, but it's a small saving grace at the end. Unfortunately, as the show has gone on, it's really dragged the humor through the mud and made it progressively harder to enjoy the show with a lot of what it did. I would have preferred to see these characters a lot more, but it's just adapting the manga so the blame goes all there. This episode is fairly fun in its own limited way and it has its baseball charms, but they're not enough to make the show work overall. It's definitely good to see that it's dealing with the older kids here rather than the Color Rangers and coping with the Prince and his obnoxious ways since the other material was really starting to get very draining.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.