Okiku Furikabutte (DVD)
Follow the trials and tribulations of Ren Mihashi and his baseball teammates as they aim for the top in Okiku Furikabutte, a touching and funny sports anime.
The original manga created by Asa Higuchi in 2003 won the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize (a very prestigious award for manga artists similar to The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards in the US) for best creative work in 2006 and the Kodansha Manga Award (an annual award for serialised manga) in the General category in 2007.
The anime was produced last spring by A-1 Pictures, currently producing the Persona-Trinity Soul anime.
The story is set in Saitama, Higuchi's hometown, and focuses on baseball fan Mihashi. In middle school, he was the baseball team's pitcher - but only because his grandfather owned the school.
His teammates resented him, giving him no support on the field and bullying him whenever they lost a game.
But when he moves to Nishiura High School, he finds that the baseball team has only just been created, and the other team members are far less experienced.
When Mihashi lets it slip that he used to pitch, coach Maria Momoe forces him to be the new starting pitcher.
From a shy and insecure middle schooler with no self-belief, Mihashi becomes more confident in himself and his abilities, and therefore a better player, thanks to the support of his new teammates and especially catcher Takaya Abe.
To find out how the Nishiura High School baseball team and their star pitcher fare, check out the anime which is now available on DVD.