Goro’s sporting adventures continue, only this time he is in the land where baseball was born – America! Not only are his opponents bigger, tougher, and more determined than ever before, but even his teammates are ultimately competitors in the grueling race for the Major Leagues. Add to that the culture shock and language barriers and it is clear he has his work cut out for him. Still, Goro has never been closer to his dream of the Major Leagues and, as far as he is concerned, the bigger the challenge, the sweeter the victory!
StoryFrom the start, Major has provided non-stop excitement by alternating expertly between gripping sports clichés and more-than-decent character tragedies. On top of this, it offers one of the most phosphorescent protagonists to date, Goro Shigeno, whose adventures have been blessed with the kind of golden streak other long-running shows would kill for. Now, having faced all the challenges Japan has to offer, Goro takes his ambitions to America, a country which nurtures big dreams and baseball with equal fervour. For Goro, and the series as a whole, the setup just couldn’t be better, right? WRONG. In this season, Major morphs into an uncomfortable combination of aimless nostalgic flashbacks and tedious character studies, all presented without any galvanising focus. The story jumps from mini plot to mini plot, recounting the lives of characters that never meant that much to begin with. In one episode Komori struggles to bond with a little league team he coaches, and in the next, Taiga tries to step into Goro’s shoes as Seishuu captain. Fans with a lingering fondness for the previous supporting cast might find catching up with several of them a delightful experience. However, without Goro motivating them to perform miracles, their listlessness will just frustrate most. Regrettably, Goro’s personal development – when the story eventually meanders back to it – makes for poor compensation. In contrast to his previous adventures, his glory-seeking in America lacks much of that relentless positivity fans have come to expect and is only intermittently enjoyable. With events proceeding in fits and starts and him struggling more than usual to attain his goal of the Major Leagues, his trials are often painful to follow. This throws up the customary question: what does this season lack that the others did not? And the answer is: decent enemies. There are no Black Triangles here, no Kaido Highs, but merely fuzzy dreams of the Major Leagues and the disconnected personal dilemmas of mediocre characters. As a result, the external baseball conflicts have become less important and are tacked on to the end of each episode more out of tradition than genuine purpose. Providing Goro and his adopted team a distinct external enemy to defeat would have done much to focus the story and avoid these problems. In a more general sense, Major also needs an injection of fresh, exciting plot ideas to reinvigorate the stagnating pace. In the great tradition of long-running series, Major seems to have used up all its best reserves, and recycled themes that once felt intense now appear trite and ham-fisted.AnimationThe colour palette is bolder, but that appears to be the only difference between this and the preceding seasons. The character designs and environments still lack detail and retain that childish sketchy appearance; however, Major continues to show high regard for movement, and the baseball games still look smooth, well-timed, and highly convincing.SoundThe musical score, used mainly to catalyse the tension, is just about functional. Only two themes stand out on their own merits (or lack thereof): the first is the ear-grating opening theme, whose lead vocalist sounds like Mickey Rourke with a phlegm complaint; the second is the cheesier but highly addictive stadium rock chant used for Goro’s climactic games. The voice acting, on the other hand, is decent overall, and Goro’s voice actor continues to perform well despite the less engaging script. Only the mangled Engrish used during Goro’s first few weeks in America mars the cast’s otherwise enjoyable performance.CharactersOnce, Major constituted an inexhaustible store of loveable characters, but not anymore. Instead of new, eye-catching teammates to explore, Major S4 prefers to dredge up the tired heroes of the past. Considering the series has tended to leave characters behind whenever Goro embarks upon new challenges, this sudden onset of nostalgia feels unnatural. Moreover, apart from Shimizu and Toshiya, whose catch-up episodes remain somewhat involving, few of the others provide anything other than tedium. The characters that do represent newness tend to suffer shallow development and corny problems like racism, injury, and flagging careers. Either that or, in the case of Gibson Junior, they’re just not sympathetic enough.OverallWith substantial portions of the story chronicling the banal lives of characters best left behind, and Goro being less than dazzling, Major S4 feels as though its creative engines have become sluggish. Worse, rather than taking the central protagonist in exciting new directions, it dredges up the past in order to bask in its dimmed reflected glory. One hope remains, however: after a disappointing effort, Major S4 eventually gains some momentum in the last few episodes. Hopefully Major S5 will prove a full return to form, making this instalment a temporary blip in an otherwise excellent run.
***This is a spoiler free review*** One sport that I have never had a particular enjoyment for is baseball. Growing up in the United States usually equates to someone loving America's past time and with the help of Major it might have worked. Major is split up into 6 different seasons and each one has a different tone and way of progressing the story. It is common to hear that Major Season 1 and Major Season 3 are the favorites but Season 4 is usually left out. Story: 7/10 The previous installments of Major involves Goro, our baseball protagonist, trying to climb many hurdles of challenges that he faces on a daily basis. His goal is to play against a certain someone and to become the best baseball player possible. The way the animation studio relayed this to the audience is by placing Goro is almost impossible situations in every season. This is not a bad thing as when Goro achieves these goals it plays out like an underdog story. Season 4 however changes things up as he is on a somewhat capable team and overall just has to watch out for himself. The overall tone for Season 4 is also more aloof and comedy driven than previous seasons. It focuses less on baseball domination and more on the bond Goro forms with his new team members. Many people felt that this season was a let down as they did not care for the new team and thought Goro was simply killing time. Animation: 6/10 The animation in Season 4 is far better than previous installments but still relatively basic if compared to other series. Facial expressions have been improved as you will be seeing Goro's over-confidant smirk throughout the show's entirety. Scenes from the baseball games are fluid and detailed but become stale after repeated use. Sound: 6/10 Sound is average at best in terms of title and background music. The opening theme for this season is worse than Major Season 3 which I LOVED to death. In terms of the music that plays during the show, there are a couple compositions that are very good and fit the mood perfectly. There are however other songs that are supposed to capture American and just turn out at stereotypical Texan like country music. Not a huge problem but if you know how America really is then you know how much this show relies on United States stereotypes. The voice actors are pretty well done as Goro and the new team's owner have many back and forth skits. Each character has a distinctive voice and vocal mannerisms that stick throughout the entire season. Background sounds such as baseball hits and when the ball hits the foul ball pole are very well done and fit in the scenes. Characters: 8.5/10 Where others think this season lacked in I think has succeeded greatly. The whole season mostly revolves around Goro and his team trying to win the championship (mostly like the previous seasons) but we see less of the games and more of the character bonding. Goro meets a pitcher who very effectively shows him he has a lot to learn before he is ready for the Majors. This season also shows something that has been left out so far in the past; how a team effects the city they play for. There are many parts of this season where different members of the city come to Goro telling him their dreams and hopes are in his hands. Not only does this form a connection between the team and the city, it shows how Goro has mentally improved himself to play under extreme pressure (something that is needed in any sport). Overall: 6.9/10 Lots of average scores for each category due to the fact that this season does seem like less of an impact than say Major Season 1. However, with a strong cast that I missed when Goro moved on, something great was achevied in this season that I think Major was missing. We saw more of how baseball affects everyday people's lives and how the pressures of the Major League affect minor league players. The new characters had great personalities and helped Goro mature and grow as a human being and a baseball player. For some watchers of Major, the change of pace will be a turn off but even so this season added new things to Goro's life that at least for me helped change him into a better athlete. If you are thinking of skipping this season to go directly to Major Season 5, I encourage that you give it a shot and just sit back and relax. The final episodes pick up on the baseball battles to give the season a great finish. Not the best season for Major but still a great anime. Enjoyment: 7/10 Thanks for reading my review! If you liked my writing style, would like to see some other reviews, or just want to talk, please stop by my page! Sincerely, Awesome Drummer
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