The Battery light novel series about baseball by Asano Atsuko has received live-action film (2007) and dorama (2008) adaptations in the past, now it’s got an anime to go with it. Airing in the noitaminA block, the series is directed by Mochizuki Tomomi and stars Uchiyama Koki as pitcher Harada Takumi and Hatanaka Tasuku as catcher Nagakura Go. KoePota interviewed the duo in July.
Q: What were your thoughts upon reading the series?
Uchiyama: We used to have hardcover copies of the books at home and I remember reading them when I was a child. When my casting in the anime was confirmed, I went back to re-read the series and developed a fresh perspective on the story. I used to think that it was purely baseball fiction but upon re-reading it, I was both surprised and deeply intrigued by the story’s vivid depiction of the naïve passions of boys in their adolescence.
Hatanaka: For me, this [anime] provided me the first opportunity to get to know about Battery. Before I picked it up, I’d pictured it as just being novels about baseball but as I read further along I realized that rather than focusing on baseball matches, the writing instead painstakingly details things like the bodily sensations of the youth during those times, how they’re driven by strong impulses and how it’s difficult for them to restrain their compulsiveness. Reading the vividness of the descriptions did however, make me think long and hard about how I could possibly capture [those emotions].
Q: What sort of person is the character you play?
Uchiyama: He’s aloof yet as a genius baseball player, has this knack of drawing people towards himself. As he’s extremely prideful, he has a tendency to rebel against his coach and his seniors, calling them out on unwritten rules that he deems pointless. It was easy for me to empathize with him since I share his feelings.
Hatanaka: Go had known about Takumi since he was in elementary school; forming a battery together in junior high, he’s [constantly] fascinated by the pitches Takumi throws, as well as ending up being twisted around [Takumi’s] little finger all the time. Go knows that it’s a period of time where he needs to think about his future and focus on his studies, yet he is determined to learn more about Takumi and [decides to] take him straight on. As someone who has been a leader in youth baseball Go is fairly flexible, but I feel that dealing with Takumi puts him under a lot of strain and pressure.
Q: Do tell us if you think that either one of you resembles your own character.
Uchiyama: When Hatanaka-kun feels strongly enthusiastic about something, he’ll go ahead and pursue it in a forthright manner, which I think is pretty similar to what Go is like.
Hatanaka: I think Uchiyama-san is Takumi personified (laughs).
Uchiyama: Somehow, that doesn’t sound like a compliment to me (laughs). The director too, noted in his initial explanation that ‘Takumi has an awful personality’.
Hatanaka: He’s not awful! I think he’s a easily misunderstood kind of person unless you take the time to understand the principles and motives behind his actions.
Uchiyama: You mean he’s not pretentious?
Hatanaka: Yeah, and I think Uchiyama-san too, is a person who isn’t pretentious when it comes to acting. I find that very appealing and I myself am fascinated [by your acting]. I feel that’s quite similar to Takumi as well.
Q: Tell us about any points you were particularly careful about or anything you struggled with, when you were creating your role.
Uchiyama: I received instructions from the director to make him understated and natural sounding, so that’s what I kept in mind when acting out the role.
Hatanaka: For me it would be the dialect. On top of having to keep it sounding tidy, I had to consider what Go was thinking of and what he was aiming to achieve through his actions. I think it was important that I wasn’t merely manufacturing a voice, but that I was able to bring out a natural sincerity in his interactions with Takumi.
Q: What were your impressions upon watching the anime?
Uchiyama: I was impressed by how beautifully Takumi’s pitching form was depicted. Again, I believe this is a very important point for Battery as an anime; that it displays very fluid motion.
Hatanaka: The changes in facial expressions were drawn with finesse. I was surprised to see that instead of [the characters] having their eyes conspicuously wide open, the expressions on their face would subtly and carefully change – that was impressive.
Q: Could you tell us the highlights of this work as well as any particular scenes that left an impression on you?
Uchiyama: I believe that this is an anime that will not leave anyone, even those who have read the original work, with a sense of incongruity. You may not yet be able to imagine how it will turn out once complete with the music and sound effects added, but I do think that it is a work that will not betray your expectations.
Hatanaka: The scene in the first episode that left a deep impression on me would be the first time they play catch-ball. Go and Takumi end up clashing but that scene left a deep impression, both as I was acting it out and when I was watching the playback. I really felt how upset Takumi got there. You can see how piercing he is in the drama and movie, but I think that he’s portrayed even more vividly in the anime – and that’s one of the highlights of the series, I feel.
Q: Lastly, please leave a message.
Uchiyama: The novels richly portray the lush, beautiful scenery and it also takes great care in depicting the baseball scenes. We are all doing our best on this show so I hope that you will enjoy the results.
Hatanaka: I believe we’re all fully immersed in the characters we’re portraying. In the recording studio, we feel the passion of ‘Battery’ so I will continue to give my best as I work on the show. I hope you will show your support.