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Manga: One Outs

A manga by Shinobu Kaitani (also the author of Liar Game) which was adopted into a 25-episode anime series by Studio Madhouse in 2008,One Outs presents itself quite differently from others in its genre. While most sports series are focused on the importance of training, determination and teamwork (more often than not featuring high-school-age players), One Outs is mainly concerned with loads of money and incredible mind games in a pro baseball setting. The anime was produced by the team responsible for Akagi and Kaiji; the protagonist is voiced by the seiyuu of the eponymous characters from those two series.

From Mangaupdates.com :

Kojima Hiromichi is the ace batter of the Lycaons - a notoriously weak baseball team that is often ranked at the bottom of the league. Determined to lead the team to victory prior to his retirement, Kojima takes a trip to a training camp in Okinawa, hoping to discover what factors the Lycaons lack.

Here, he happens upon a game dubbed "One Outs" - a gambling derivative of baseball - and is soundly defeated by a blond pitcher named Tokuchi Toua, who is claimed to have never allowed a hit in any of the 499 games he has played.

Kojima realizes that he has found the 'missing factor' and makes a wager with Tokuchi. Little does anyone know that the outcome of this gamble will dictate the fates of the Lycaons and all those connected to the team.

Tropes:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Sets the series in motion when Kojima wagers his career against Tokuchi's right hand.
  • Accidental Athlete: Kojima discovers Toua Tokuchi largely by chance.
  • Artifact Title: At around two-thirds of the way into the manga Tokuchi ends up sinking Saikawa once and for all after a major rate raise. Once Saikawa was removed the One Outs Contract was no longer in effect thus taking away the main connection the title had to the series. There are still plots to deal with, but none related to One Outs itself.
  • Artistic License - Biology: There's no other explanation for how people are able to clearly overhear each other from hundreds of feet away. The announcers can always hear every single word Tokuchi says on the pitch, for example.
  • Bad Ass: Toua, again.
  • Bad Ass Boast: Toua, yet again. When he says he's going to strike someone out in three pitches, he means it.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Tokuchi is shirtless in the opening animation, but he has no nipples.
  • Batman Gambit: Tokuchi makes quite a habit out of pulling these.
  • Bishounen: Takami Itsuki of the Chiba Mariners stands out among a cast of average-to-ugly characters.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: Toua, for the most part, always recovers his losses and makes out like a bandit at the end of each game or string of games.
  • Brutal Honesty: Toua does not hesitate to tell anyone exactly what he thinks of them.
  • Butt Monkey: Arai. If anyone's going to look utterly stupid, it's usually him.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Averted. Tokuchi spots players on a rival team cheating by stealing the Lycaons' signals. Does he call them on it? Not a chance. He mounts a man-in-the-middle attack and makes them lose face utterly.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Played straight in the second and third matches against the Kobe Blue Mars — though Toua's own methods for ensuring their victory were far from honest and by-the-book...
    • Inverted in the third match against the Mariners where, in order to win, both teams have to intentionally and obviously cheat as much as possible.
  • Character Development: By the end of the series Toua is actually going out for drinks with the other members and taking part in pre-match meetings (for his own reasons, but still.)
  • The Chessmaster: Toua
  • Combat Commentator: Obviously, since this is a sports series.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Besides Tokuchi himself of course, there's Takami Itsuki of the Mariners. He's the first to truly figure out Tokuchi's pitching style and becomes the first person to hit a Home Run off of him. He ends up teaching the rest of his team how to deal with Tokuchi thus making him completely overwhelmed once the training truly starts to kick in. He also was the first one to pick up on the fact that Tokuchi had seemingly turned it back around on them but unfortunately for him the Mariners didn't believe him until it was FAR too late.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Happens to Saikawa a few times.
  • Down to the Last Play: Quite a few matches are only won in the final inning.
  • Dreadlock Rasta: Dennis Johnson's hairstyle.
  • Expy: Toua, of Akagi. Their personalities are virtually the same.
  • Evil Gloating: Saikawa delights in this.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Toua almost entirely relies on this to score his victories.
  • Frame-Up: One of the many, many methods Saikawa uses to try to reduce his debt to Tokuchi.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Lycaons themselves. They go from a team that was historically bad to one of the most feared teams in Japan, eventually even WITHOUT Tokuchi.
  • Gag Lips: Manager Mihara, whose nickname among his team is "Fat Lips."
  • Gratuitous English: "Big Mama", and Brooklyn's entire character.
    • And the series' title and subtitle, with their questionable grammar.
  • Gambit Roulette: Quite a few times — but the most notable example was during the third match against the Chiba Mariners.
  • Golden Snitch: The Lycaons' owner, Saikawa, occasionally makes certain games worth 20 times more than others in terms of Toua's wages as well as the amount deducted from his annual salary, should he give up any runs. Tokuchi wins every time - with only one exception - moving his annual wage from several million to several billion yen.
    • Taken to an absurd extreme when it appears that Tokuchi had gotten injured in a game (which of course Saikawa ordered because he's a Jerkass). When Tokuchi announces that he's going to start in the next game, Saikawa ups the rate to 200 TIMES trying to finish off Tokuchi once and for all. But of course, Tokuchi being The Chessmaster , he had set a trap using a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. He wasn't injured at all and he proceeded to pitch a Perfect Game to hammer the point home. Saikawa is ruined and is marginalized out of the manga shortly thereafter.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Toua, in his last game against the Mariners, pitches all 9 innings, giving up 36 runs and many more hits, on purpose, just to mess up with all the Mariners batters' form, and thus giving the other Lycaons pitchers a chance in the following games.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: What happens to the cheating Blue Mars team and its manager (and mastermind behind the entire process) once Toua turns their rule-breaking into their greatest weakness.
    • Saikawa frequently suffers from this during his attempts to out-gamble Tokuchi.
      • Saikawa actually had Tokuchi dead to rights halfway through the manga but screwed himself out of it due to this. He, wisely, figured that if he couldn't take care of Tokuchi on the field he'd have to catch him napping off of it. So he arranges for someone to deliberately drive into Tokuchi's car after a road game and cause an accident, ruining his reputation and getting him suspended for many games (due to a clause on the One Outs Contract, any missed games due to this sort of thing would come with a hefty fine. A long suspension would ruin him). He just made one small error. He paid the guy too little, allowing Tokuchi to find him and simply pay him more to reveal the deception. Had he not been so obsessed with keeping money his plan would've succeeded.
  • Hyper Awareness: Tokuchi's greatest strength is his super-awareness of everything going on around him.
  • Ideal Hero: Kojima
  • The Lancer: Ideguchi
  • Like a God to Me: Manager Mihara says this to Tokuchi in one episode when he's trying to butter him up.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Really, actual baseball (even in the pro leagues) isn't even one thousandth as interesting as this anime manages to make it seem.
  • Narrator
  • Nominal Hero: A particularly good example of this, as he could just as easily have been the villain had One Outs been a more true-to-type sports manga.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught - The mentality of the Blue Mars team. Subverted in an episode where Tokuchi and the Mariners cheat blatantly and obviously because they want to get caught.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Toua pulls this off a couple of times, despite having a face that looks anything but stupid. Mostly used in the matches against the Bugaboos, during which he pretends to be weak at fielding to lull the other team's manager into a false sense of security.
  • Oh, Crap: Used by the Blue Mars when they realize the trick ball makes it impossible to pick Toua off at base.
  • Ordered to Cheat: The Blue Mars' standard MO, though unusually for the trope they have no objections to doing so.
  • The Plan: It's quite difficult to tell sometimes what kind of plan Toua is using but they often work.
  • Porn Stache: Okabe of the Eagles has a classic one.
  • Pose of Supplication: Tokuchi forces a Blue Mars player into one on national TV after a Frame-Up backfires.
  • Put Me In, Coach!: Inverted. Tokuchi is too good at what he does, and the executive who manages the team deliberately sends him in only when he believes that Tokuchi will make a mistake.
  • The Reveal: Lengthy ones after every trick.
  • Rule of Seven: Toua's jersey number is 77.
  • Seinen
  • Shirtless Scene: The opening animation shows Tokuchi shirtless.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Brooklyn and most foreign players.
  • Slow Clap: Tokuchi does this to Ideguchi in a later episode.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Toua smokes like a chimney — especially in the manga.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Not as blatantly overused as in other sports series — but there's still no way the umpires would allow players and managers to talk to each other so frequently and long-windedly during a game (without even calling for time-outs). Still, it's understandable - since most of the mind-play is so complicated that few viewers would be able to figure out what was going on unless it was explained in detail.
  • This Cannot Be!: Frequently uttered by Tokuchi's opponents.
  • Trash Talk: Usually started by the enemy, but Tokuchi gives as good as he gets.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: The Lycaons are a pretty mediocre team, but they start winning matches like wildfire after Toua joins.
    • Averted when Toua points out that the reason they've always been underdogs is not due to a glaringly obvious lack of skill — but strategically weak game plans, bad coaching, thoughtless management, low self-esteem and a great deal of misconceptions regarding what a baseball game is all about.
  • Webcomic Time: In the author's comment to volume 16 (released 2006) Kaitani notes that even though the series is entering its 8th year, in-universe it's still 1999.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Kojima's spectacled lackey disappears completely after episode 4, save for a brief cameo in episode 25.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: More like "Why don't ya just hire him properly?" Saikawa's henchman points out he could save a lot of money by just signing Tokuchi to a normal player's contract, but he refuses.
  • Worthy Opponent: Tokuchi states he has been looking for one.
  • Wounded Gazelle Warcry: Toua sacrificed himself, but in doing so, gave the Lycaons a serious chance at beating the Mariners, as they all worked together as the perfect team, over the more talented Mariners.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Again, plenty of times; especially during the second and third matches against the Blue Mars.
  • You Are Not Alone: The difference between baseball and One Outs.

No Game No LifeCreator/MadhousePaprika
NoramimiAnime of the 2000sPonyo on the Cliff by the Sea
Tenjho TengeMagazine/Shonen JumpRiki Oh

alternative title(s): One Outs
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