Battlefield Baseball isn’t a movie, at least I don’t think it is. It’s more like a series of live-action manga pages hastily assembled around a framework that mentions baseball only as a pretext for cartoonish fighting, baffling (if not convenient) plot devices, and dialogue that is perpetually screamed at the audience.
Battlefield Baseball is about as subtle as a baked bean fart in a health club hot tub.
I don’t know if I am supposed to like Battlefield Baseball or just be impressed that it wasn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen. At its heart Battlefield Baseball is the being and nothingness of cinema; a series of action set pieces (amateur though they are), allusions to honor and sacrifice (administered with a jackhammer), and a delightfully convoluted moral about alcoholism to round things out.
Did I mention that the narrator is revealed to be a dog? No? Well, I have now.
Here’s the plot, in a nutshell (for any more detail you will have to wade through the DVD yourself)…
Seido High School is striving for fame by competing in a brutal, fatal, baseball tournament against their longtime rivals from Gedo University. The team from Gedo are zombies or demons or something… I don’t know, they are blue… Anyway, when the entire team is massacred it’s up to new student Jubeh to field a new team and take the fight back to Gedo.
Jubeh will employ his amazing “Tornado Pitch” to wipe out the other team. But, he doesn’t… I don’t know, I didn’t write the thing…
Then they fight and Jubeh’s team wins.
There, that’s the movie. Good luck.
Of course this is meant to be tongue and cheek, but the humor is so broad (and not even good Harold Lloyd broad, but bad like Curly Joe in the Stooges bad) and over the top that after the first twenty minutes or so not only was I not laughing, I was bored.
There are two standout sequences that were truly funny, when Jubeh fights Four Eyes’ mother in the living room of her small apartment (which reveals Jubeh’s identity), and when the player Matsui Gorilla returns from the dead as Robo Gorilla and does his Robo Gorilla dance.
The rest of it resembles watching someone walk into a glass door over and over and over again. The first couple of times it’s hilarious, but it doesn’t take long before you start wondering why someone hasn’t put up a sign reading “Warning, glass door”.
I know that Battlefield Baseball was put together on a tiny budget, and director Yamaguchi makes good use of outdoor sets and natural lighting (zombie Dogme’?) to at least give the visual presentation some nice composition. He is pretty good with action sequences too and isn’t afraid to let the camera peel back revealing a melee in progress.
He could have spent a little more on gore though; the mannequin arms and heads that pass for severed limbs here are as fake as the blue-paint on the Gedo team’s faces. Yamaguchi really does try to mimic the hectic layout of the Shonen Jump manga from whence the story comes, so much so that throughout the film I kept wondering why this wasn’t just done as an animated film. It clearly want the freedom of anime, and in almost all cases, need it to maintain the air of silliness present in the script and plot. Though it’s no small accomplishment that he is able to visually capture anime style in live action on a tiny budget.
Subersive DVD offers Battlefield Baseball in 1:85 -1 widescreen/16x9 widescreen, and a choice of Dolby 5.1 or standard stereo. They also stack the DVD with a ton of goof extras including, but not limited to, trailers, release party video, a series of whacked out short films (two of them featuring Lego people), a making of featurette, and two commentary tracks.
I don’t know if it’s because I had a prerelease copy but the color was sort of washed out and the images a little fuzzy throughout the film. It didn’t really take anything away from the viewing experience because well, I was bored.