List of Big Windup! characters

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Nishiura High School Baseball Team and associated members. Left to right, front row: Izumi, Hanai, Mizutani, Oki, Tajima, Mihashi, Nishihiro, Abe, Suyama, Sakaeguchi, Ai-chan the dog. Left to right, back row: Shiga, Shino'oka, Momoe.

The Big Windup! anime and manga series features a cast of characters created by Asa Higuchi. The series takes place in a fictional version of Saitama, Japan, where different high school baseball teams compete in official tournaments. The anime series consists of 26 episodes, while the manga series is ongoing.

The main character of the series is Ren Mihashi, a nervous high school student who is passionate about pitching. At the start of the series, he takes up attendance at Nishiura High School and becomes the pitcher for the school's newly formed baseball team. As the series progresses, Mihashi develops strong friendships with his team-mates, most notably with the catcher, Takaya Abe, whom he holds in high esteem. The team quickly develops an ambition to go to Koushien, the finals of the summer baseball tournament, and competes with several other baseball teams to this end.

Higuchi was inspired to write her own baseball manga when she heard the story of a local baseball team when she was in high school. While growing up in Saitama (where the series is set), Higuchi became familiar with baseball by reading the manga Dokaben. Higuchi collected data on high school baseball for over 10 years in order to create the manga, and she worked with the school she had attended, Urawanishi High School, in the year prior to the serialization.[1]

Conception[edit]

In the original version of Big Windup!, the protagonist Ren Mihashi never spoke. In addition, characters such as Maria Momoe, Shūgo Kanō and Motoki Haruna didn't yet exist. Five months prior to the serialization of the series in Afternoon magazine, Higuchi published a one shot in the magazine titled "The Basic of Basics". The story was centered around the characters of the Musashino Dai Ichi school, who went on to appear in the series itself.[1]

Nishiura Baseball Team[edit]

Ren Mihashi[edit]

Ren Mihashi (三橋 廉 Mihashi Ren?) is the primary protagonist and the team's pitcher. His nervousness and extreme lack of self-confidence is at odds with his skill, a result of his passion for and dedication to pitching. Mihashi was ostracized by his middle school teammates, who believed he had been given his position of ace because his grandfather owns the school. During the time period, the catcher and team refused to cooperate during games, causing them to lose every game. Mihashi transfers to Nishiura High School afterward, where he joins their baseball team, though fears he will cause more losses. As the series progresses, Mihashi slowly gains more confidence in himself and trust in the team, especially the catcher, Abe. Despite this, Mihashi retains his skittish and shy personality. He shows to have cynophobia. Mihashi's voice actor is Tsubasa Yonaga, while Sean Michael Teague provides his voice in English.

Takaya Abe[edit]

Takaya Abe (阿部 隆也 Abe Takaya?) is the catcher in the Nishiura High School baseball team. As such, he forms the team's battery along with Mihashi. Abe is a serious and mature character, whose short temper is often inadvertently provoked by Mihashi. He is very strategically minded and initially values Mihashi for his obedience in team games. Abe is a capable catcher, signaling Mihashi the right pitches after thoroughly examining his opponent. As the catcher, he successfully memorizes the quirks of the batter and what pitches they are weak against. As time progresses, Abe strives to win games to improve Mihashi's self-confidence. He often gets partially jealous toward Mihashi. Abe normally doesn't show his emotions to everyone, including Mihashi and the rest of the team. He has a tendency to nag and yell constantly, but later on he's more and more caring and open to Mihashi's feelings. In some episodes, he smiles. Abe's voice actor is Yuichi Nakamura, while Greg Ayres provides his voice in English.

Yuuichirou Tajima[edit]

Yuuichirou Tajima (田島 悠一郎 Tajima Yūichirō?) is the cleanup hitter of the team. He is an outgoing, confident, friendly, and extremly horny character, and very talented at baseball. He is considered to be number 1 in his baseball team. However, because of his small build, he is unable to hit home runs, and relies on the team to complete runs. Tajima and Mihashi develop a friendship, and he is able to understand and elucidate Mihashi's sometimes incomprehensible attempts at communication to others. Many have commented that he acts as Mihashi's older brother. Tajima enjoys catching fast balls and, as a result, becomes a back-up catcher in case of Abe's absence and for training purposes. Tajima's voice actor is Hiro Shimono, while Todd Haberkorn provides his voice in English.

Azusa Hanai[edit]

Azusa Hanai (花井 梓 Hanai Azusa?) bats fifth for the team who batted cleanup in middle school. While originally presented as a hot-headed and rude character, he is later shown to be a relatively smart and observant person, and is unanimously voted to become team captain. He tries to surpass Tajima and compete with him, but decides that he must work for the good of the team, rather than taking risks to prove himself. Hanai's voice actor is Kishō Taniyama, while Joel McDonald provides his voice in English.

Yuuto Sakaeguchi[edit]

Yuuto Sakaeguchi (栄口 勇人 Sakaeguchi Yūto?) usually bats in the second position. Sakaeguchi is very friendly and familiar with Abe from their attendance at the same middle school. When Abe and Mihashi have trouble understanding each other, Sakaeguchi generally attempts to mediate, being able to understand both of their mannerisms. Under stress, Sakaeguchi is known to get diarrhea, a trait revealed by Abe, who noticed it during their high school entrance exams. Sakaeguchi is closest to Suyama on the team, because they are in the same class. Unlike other members of the team, Sakaeguchi's mother is deceased. Sakaeguchi's voice actor is Chihiro Suzuki, while Aaron Dismuke provides his voice in English.

Kousuke Izumi[edit]

Kousuke Izumi (泉 孝介 Izumi Kōsuke?) is one of the more experienced characters on the team, shown to be good at batting, catching, and to be a fast base runner. He is in the same class as Mihashi and Tajima and is revealed to share their lunchtime activities of talking, eating, and then falling asleep. Izumi attended the same elementary and junior high school as Hamada, although up until high school Hamada was a year above him. He appears to enjoy antagonizing Hamada and does not treat him with the respect due to a former senior schoolmate. Due to his more serious personality, Izumi tends to get annoyed quickly, especially at Abe's constant bickering. Izumi's voice actor is Jun Fukuyama, while Chris Burnett provides his voice in English.

Shoji Suyama[edit]

Shoji Suyama (巣山 尚治 Suyama Shōji?) acts as the shortstop and third baseman of the team. A level-headed character, he is generally quieter and less rambunctious than his teammates, although he once reacts strongly to Momoe's offer of a particular brand of protein powder to which he harbors a strong dislike. It's revealed that Suyama doesn't share many of the boyish qualities the other Nishiura boys seem to have, such as fantasizing girls, emphasizing his more mature personality. In the series, he is closest to Sakaeguchi. Suyama's voice actor is Makoto Yasumura, while Anthony Bowling provides his voice in English.

Fumiki Mizutani[edit]

Fumiki Mizutani (水谷 文貴 Mizutani Fumiki?) is less skilled at baseball than some of the other members, and occasionally fumbles catches. This leads to Abe calling him the "Crap Left". Many of Mizutani's hits at bat are entirely based on luck; he admits that he doesn't have a good eye for the ball. He appears to be the most simple-minded of the Nishiura team, often sharing the same goofiness as Mihashi. Mizutani appears to enjoy listening to music, as he is almost always seen with headphones on outside of practice. Mizutani's's voice actor is Kenichirō Sumi, while Jean-Luc Hester provides his voice in English.

Kazutoshi Oki[edit]

Kazutoshi Oki (沖 一利 Oki Kazutoshi?) is Nishiura's reserve pitcher and first baseman. He is a very shy and nervous character who rarely speaks his mind because he is afraid that he might be scolded by the others. He has more pitching experience than Hanai, but was reluctant to admit it as he didn't want to pitch in official games. However, he is inspired by Mihashi's dedication and decides to try his best for the team. He is the only left-handed player on the team. Oki's voice actor is Yūdai Satō, while Chris Cason provides his voice in English.

Shintarou Nishihiro[edit]

Shintarou Nishihiro (西広 辰太郎 Nishihiro Shintarō?) is Nishiura's reserve player and is often seen sitting in the benches cheering his team on. Nishihiro is always the base coach next to third base when Nishiura is on the offense. He is a beginner at baseball and therefore has little experience playing. When he does play in games, he often plays the position of left fielder. He is supposedly one of the smartest first years at school because he never has to study for tests. Nishihiro's voice actor is Ryōhei Kimura, while Scott Hinze provides his voice in English.

Associated members[edit]

Maria Momoe[edit]

Maria Momoe (百枝 まりあ Momoe Maria?) is the head coach of the baseball team, and the most prominent adult character in the series. At the start of the series, she mentions that she is a graduate of Nishiura, which used to offer softball instead of baseball. The team nicknames her "Momokan", short for "Momoe-kantoku" (Coach Momoe), and develop a respect for her, though often find her intimidating. Momoe is physically strong and is very dedicated to the baseball team, working menial side jobs to help pay for equipment. Though several characters comment on the peculiarity of having a female coach for a baseball team, Momoe is shown to be competent in the role. Momoe has a small dog named Ai who accompanies the team to practice, including practice games with other teams. Momoe's voice actress is Risa Hayamizu, while Cynthia Cranz provides her voice in English.

Chiyo Shino'oka[edit]

Chiyo Shino'oka (篠岡 千代 Shinooka Chiyo?) is the manager, a position equivalent to a secretary, of the baseball team. A very hardworking and earnest character, she has great pride in the baseball team and takes great strides in helping them, from making rice balls to writing detailed reports about opposing teams. As manager, she has memorized much information about her own team, and knows all of their full names and birthdays. She stated[2] that she has no romantic interest in anyone on the team, but it is later revealed[3] that she has feelings for Abe, though she won't act upon them to avoid awkwardness in the team. She went to the same middle school as Abe and Sakaeguchi, where she played softball in the position of shortstop. Chiyo also loves trying on other school's uniforms, and often swaps uniforms with her friends and takes pictures. Shino'oka's voice actress is Misato Fukuen, while Cherami Leigh provides her voice in English.

Tsuyoshi Shiga[edit]

Tsuyoshi Shiga (志賀 剛司 Shiga Tsuyoshi?) is the teacher advisor responsible for the baseball team. Though he is a math teacher, Shiga-sensei appears to have a great deal of knowledge about the body and how it works, although he doesn't know much about baseball. His relaxing and concentrating methods of meditation help Mihashi and the others to mentally grow as a team. Shiga's voice actor is Takehiro Murozono, while Chuck Huber provides his voice in English.

Yoshirou Hamada[edit]

Yoshirou Hamada (浜田 良郎 Hamada Yoshirō?) is a childhood friend of Mihashi. Though they used to play baseball together when they were young, Hamada has quit playing for an unknown reason, supposedly because of “Little League elbow”, which refers to an elbow injury caused by pitching too much when he was younger. Hamada founded the baseball team's cheering squad and is very good at sewing. Mihashi calls him by his childhood nickname, Hama-chan, which has been adopted by other members of the baseball team. He attended the same elementary school and junior high as Izumi, and the two appear to be very familiar with each other, though Izumi shows him no respect despite Hamada being a year older. Hamada was held back a year due to missing school because he had to work part-time to earn money. He lives by himself as his family has moved to find jobs elsewhere and has a reputation among the girls in his class, but this seems to be just rumor. Hamada's voice actor is Atsushi Kisaichi, while Christopher Bevins provides his voice in English.

Umehara and Kajiyama[edit]

Voiced by: Takashi Hikita (Japanese), Eric Vale (English)

Keisuke Umehara (梅原 圭介 Umehara Keisuke?) and Riki Kajiyama (梶山 力 Kajiyama Riki?) are two of Hamada's friends and former classmates who agree to join the baseball teams cheering squad. Umehara is voiced by Takashi Hikita in Japanese, and they are respectively voiced by Eric Vale and J. Michael Tatum in English.

Opposition[edit]

Teams[edit]

Several opposing teams are introduced in Big Windup!. Mihoshi Academy's team is a prominent subject, as Mihashi had left them after his three years as ace pitcher. Along with the battery Kanou and Hatake, the team has Hiroyuki Oda, a cleanup hitter who speaks in a Kansai dialect in Japanese, and the American equivalent southern accent in English. Musashino First is the team where Haruna resides as ace pitcher. Originally lazy and laid-back, the team is later stirred into action by Haruna's desire to end the team's mediocrity. Along with Haruna, the team includes Naoto Kaguyama, the starting pitcher, Ohkawa, the team captain, and Kyouhei Akimaru, a kind back-up pitcher for Haruna. Suzune Miyashita is the team's manager who is dating Ohkawa. Tosei High School was the previous year's Koshien winner, who underestimated the skill of Nishiura. Junta Takase is the Tosei's ace pitcher, who uses sinkers and forkballs to strike out batters, while Kazuki Kawai is the team captain.

Shuugo Kanou[edit]

Shuugo Kanou (叶修悟 Kanoō Shūgo?) was Mihashi's former teammate who took the role of starting pitcher after Mihashi left and uses a forkball as a strikeout pitch. His team had said that he would have been the ace pitcher of the team if Mihashi's grandfather, who owned the school, had not made Mihashi the starting pitcher. However, Kanou refuses to accept the notion, seeing Mihashi's true potential as an ace pitcher and angry at how the team treated him. As such, he is the first of his team to play seriously against Nishiura in a practice game until convincing the others to as well. Kanou and Mihashi were friends during childhood and Mihashi occasionally refers to him by the nickname "Shu-chan". In fact, at the last episode of season one, Kanou smiles upon hearing this and says excitedly, "He's calling me by my first name! It's like we're little kids again!". Kanou's voice actor is Jun Oosuka, while Jamie McGonnigal provides his voice in English.

Atsushi Hatake[edit]

Atsushi Hatake (畠 篤史 Hatake Atsushi?) is the catcher for the Mihoshi team. He was the most opposed to Mihashi being their ace pitcher in middle school, believing that Kanou was a better pitcher and deserved the position more. Hatake goes as far as to threaten to break Mihashi's arm, even after he had left and joined Nishiura, but is later convinced by Kanou to take him seriously. Hatake and the rest of the team makes amends after losing to Mihashi and his teammates, though Hatake still stubbornly declares Kanou the better pitcher. Hatake's voice actor is Shintarou Oohata, while Josh Grelle provides his voice in English.

Motoki Haruna[edit]

Motoki Haruna (榛名 元希 Haruna Motoki?) is Musashino's back-up pitcher and a former teammate of Abe, whose goal is to become a professional baseball player. At first, he refused Abe to be his catcher because of Abe's short height and doubted his ability as a catcher. Though they grow closer, Abe begins to dislike Haruna's principles about pitching; he refuses to throw more than 80 pitches and use his full strength, while also being protective of his throwing arm, and was unwilling to throw a slider due to a mosquito bite. Haruna's current catcher, Akimaru, noted that Haruna seemed more aggravated and wild in his middle school years, and expressed an understanding for Abe's feelings. On the Musashino team, Haruna is shown to be very hard-working and instills determination into the team, particularly Naoto Kaguyama, who would have quit without Haruna's interference. Haruna's voice actor is Masaya Matsukaze, while Kevin M. Connolly provides his voice in English.

Other characters[edit]

Ruri Mihashi[edit]

Ruri Mihashi (三橋 瑠里 Mihashi Ruri?) is the cousin of Ren Mihashi. When they were young, Mihashi and his family visited Ruri and they often played together with Kanou, leading him and Mihashi to develop a friendship. During his middle school games, he told Ruri to not attend and thus did not tell her when the games took place, embarrassed and ashamed for his failures. She cheered for Nishiura during their game against Tosei, surprised by how Mihashi had skillfully played during the game. Ruri enjoys calling Mihashi by the nickname Renren, much to his dismay. Mihashi's teammates even teased him upon hearing Ruri call him by that nickname. She has a younger brother named Ryuu. Ruri's voice actress is Marina Inoue, while Monica Rial provides her voice in English.



Merchandise[edit]

Merchandise of Big Windup! characters includes action figures, key chains, plush dolls, and branded stationery. There is also a Nintendo DS game called "Honto no Ace ni Nareru Kamo" (ホントのエースになれるかも Honto no Ace ni Nareru Kamo?).[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Higuchi, Asa (2005). "Omake". Ōkiku Furikabutte Volume 3. Kodansha. pp. 165–173. 
  2. ^ Chapter 17
  3. ^ Chapter 59
  4. ^ http://www.yesasia.com/global/ookiku-furikabutte-honto-no-ace-ni-nareru-kamo-japan-version/1005070764-0-0-0-en/info.html