Series Name: One Outs
Year of Serialization: 1998
Author: Shinobu Kaitani
Artist: Shinobu Kaitani
Genres: Sports, Psychological, Seinen
Current Status: Finished
Moment of Reviewing: Chapter 32 (end of volume 4)
Other Formats: Anime
Hiromichi Kojima of the Lycaons is known as a legend among batters, but also carries a reputation for his bad luck. No matter how far they get, his team never wins the championship. Kojima however, refuses to call it simply "bad luck". No, he believes that his team is missing something crucial that's needed to achieve victory. This will be the last season before retiring, meaning he'll either go all the way or fail for good. As the story begins, a few players try to find a practice pitcher for Kojima. Instead, they wind up participating in a game called "One Outs".
This variation of baseball is perfect for gambling, and it defies some laws of regular baseball. The players underestimate Toua Tokuchi, a renown pitcher around these parts, and eventually pits him against Kojima after losing a large sum of money in a bet. After a series of events, Tokuchi ends up joining the Lycaons after losing a fatal gamble. But winning isn't the only thing he has in mind...
Saikawa is the greedy manager of the Lycaons. He sees no promise in this new pitcher, and offers him a measly salary to save his own pockets. But Tokuchi offers Saikawa a contract he can't resist: "5 million yen per out... you pay me 5 million for every out I get. But if I lose any runs, I'll pay you 50 million per a run". This contract is by all means illegal, but intending to gain exorbitant amounts of profit, Saikawa agrees. Even the greatest batting average cannot hope to achieve profits out of this. And yet, Tokuchi was so confident he could do it...
I checked out this manga based on friend recommendation and the fact that this mangaka wrote the Liar Game (if you read both series you'll see just how close they are). I was pretty hesitant since I was not a baseball fan but in the end that's only half of the series. The real fun doesn't come from that, but how Tokuchi uses deception to con every opponent whom he faces. His throwing speed is nothing special, and yet the most keen of batters will succumb.
Now for huge baseball fans out there, this might seem a bit unrealistic in some areas. And yet it could still be enjoyable since there's such an interesting take on the rules and tactics of the game. As you can see, things do get heated here and there:
The key point of this manga has to be Tokuchi. His plans are a bit more predictable in the first volume but it becomes better gradually. I'm only a fraction of the way done with the series too, so I'm not even at the peak yet. But yeah, Tokuchi's feared among his peers for his ability to read the human psyche:
One possible thing that you'll have to look out for when reading is a major gap in the chapters, as I believe 3 volumes are yet to be under scanlation. However, the anime adaptation still goes along with the storyline from there on out. Overall this turned out to be a great series despite my initial worry when going in.