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  • Joined Aug 18, 2021
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One Outs

Dec 2, 2021

“What does it mean to be a winner, the last one standing? It means to climb over a mountain of corpses to get to the top. By no means is it a glorious sight to behold, and in fact, it is extremely cruel. Even so, if you still wish to seek victory... then you must become a devil.”

Tokuchi Toua’s words reverberate through Kojima Hiromichi’s mind as he steps up in the decisive showdown against their biggest opponents, the all-star Chiba Mariners team. Kojima is the cleanup batter of the struggling baseball team, Saikyou Saitama Lycaons. Even though he is regarded as a local hero, he has never won the championship. At the age of 43, this season might be his very last chance. It has only been a year since he first encountered this extraordinary young man in an underground baseball gamble called “One Outs”. After convincing him to join Lycaons, Tokuchi has slowly and miraculously transformed one of the weakest team around into a title contender. Will Kojima finally be able to fulfill his lifelong wish and lead his team to glory?

One Outs is not your typical sports manga. Created by Kaitani Shinobu (author of Liar Game), One Outs doesn’t gloss itself with pompous values such as teamwork, sportsmanship, hard work, determination or friendship. Tossing all naivety aside, it portrays the baseball game as a place where the victor walks over the fallen and the winner takes all. To win, you must deceive, cheat, and manipulate your adversaries, even your very own team mates. What makes One Outs truly unique is that it is all about trickery and mind games… in baseball.

The centerpiece of this manga is undoubtedly Tokuchi Toua. He is probably one of the slickest and most badass characters in town. He is a 134-kmph pitcher who can only throw straight balls. Laughable in professional baseball’s standard. However, Tokuchi is the ultimate trickster. Behind his arrogant and nonchalant demeanor, lies the ability to read everyone like a book. He deceives and manipulates everyone to dance around at his whim. Once Tokuchi catches hold of his opponent’s weaknesses, he will exploit them ruthlessly and utterly destroy the very core of their spirit, all the while mocking at their foolishness. Whatever you throw at him, be it true skill, cheating or foul play, he will always be able to counter it with an ingenious strategy. All is fair game and only the winner defines what justice is.

The other characters are pretty much forgettable and have little role to play. Seriously. One Outs is a one-man showpiece, letting you gush at the awesomeness of the protagonist. But that isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. Once you get into the story, Tokuchi works his charm and keeps you guessing his next move. The biggest disappointment is probably Kojima, since he is supposedly the heart and soul of the Lycaons team. Excusing the injury he suffered at the start of the story, he hardly makes any impact on the outcome of the matches.

The story itself is full of intrigue. The One Outs contract that Tokuchi signed with Lycaons sets the stage for the high stakes gamble between him and the owner. The owner, being the despicable money-grubbing bad guy, will resort to any means possible to destroy Tokuchi and win the bet. Throughout the Lycaon’s quest for the championship, Tokuchi is pitted against all kinds of opponents: from the fastest base runner, a genius batter with unrivalled in-motion vision, a master tactician, an expert cheating team and even sabotage by his own team mates. This is where the story draws you in. Cliffhangers and suspense are aplenty. You know Tokuchi is gonna kick everyone’s butt but you just have no idea how. And he’s never going to reveal it until the very end. The strategies and schemes used are brilliant, and the execution by Tokuchi is near flawless. Be it the weather, the pitch, the people, or the game rules. He will find a way to bend them to his advantage.

Some people who watched the anime might complain that the story only revolves around the One Outs contract, making the matches pointless. However, Tokuchi has planned far ahead and everything he does has a far-reaching influence. The anime only covers the first half of the manga. Without spoiling too much, I can tell you that the third quarter is about a revised One Outs contract and the rest deviates from the contract completely. There is much more character development at the later stages, when Tokuchi tries to change the loser mentality of the Lycaons team and improve the team in his own unique way.

I do find the final stages of the story slightly lackluster. Even though it is nice to see another side of Tokuchi, trying to honor his promise with Kojima, it fails to build up the tension and reach a really climatic ending. I suppose it’s the result of the epic battles that were crafted out earlier, that the final showdown pales in comparison. In my opinion, this is what keeps One Outs from being a true masterpiece.

The artwork is nothing spectacular, but does its job and is fairly decent. I especially like how the mangaka draws the expressions of the characters. The drawing is believable and makes the comedic moments hit the mark perfectly when they occur, albeit occasionally. I have no complaints.

One Outs is a really fun read, especially if you like baseball and something intelligent. I never watch baseball games and barely know any rules. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it immensely. I don’t think I need to remind you again but Tokuchi really kicks ass!

“Nobody wins, but I!”

8.5/10 story
8/10 art
10/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
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Mayflowers Jun 2, 2022

I've been trying to find this manga online with all the chapters and im having no luck so if you can help please do , thanks.