Centering around the adventures of a sullen, trench-coated punk named Jubeh the Baseball (Versus star Tak Sakaguchi), who harbors a dark secret along with the awesome power of the “Super Tornado Pitch,” Battlefield Baseball is an intentionally absurd, gratuitously gory laugh riot, delivered at a breakneck pace. Cherry blossoms waft through the air for no apparent reason. Characters die right and left, only to come back as robots or return played by completely different actors. Long lost brothers are reunited. A high school baseball playoff turns into a tragic bloodbath, amid a soundtrack ranging from spaghetti Western themes to cheesy J-Pop. But Principal Kocho, the brave administrator of league underdog Seido High, refuses to let anyone stand in the way of his championship dream, and the film’s ending twist is completely unexpected.
Given all this, Battlefield Baseball could very easily be dismissed as another trendy martial arts sports flick in the vein of Steven Chao’s Shaolin Soccer or Kung-Fu Hustle. But the film’s low budget, D.I.Y. aesthetic, coupled with the complete self-awareness of its actors and director, makes it totally unique. The special edition DVD, out on Subversive Cinema, throws in some equally unforgettable extras, including an abbreviated version of the movie acted out with KUBRICK toys, and a short about ramen noodles that was shown along with the film’s theatrical release.
At $23.95, Battlefield Baseball’s a bit expensive for casual viewers, so do what I did, and give it a rental before deciding to make Japanese zombie baseball a permanent part of your life. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.