When a film makes the top ten of a writer over at Midnight Eye you sort of take notice. So when Green Minds, Metal Bats [Seishun Kinzoku Bat] made Tom Mes' list you sit upright and make a note - Must find movie. Must watch movie.
Having never achieved his dreams of playing professional baseball Nanba [Pistol Takehara] spends his days working as a convenience store clerk. All other spare time is devoted to the game he loves, baseball, and to perfecting the ultimate swing. If he can just get it right then he will be sure to impress at the open tryouts for the next season of professional baseball. One night he comes across Eiko, sexy as hell but completely blitzed, engaging in a battle of wits with a neighbor's car. Nanba rescues her from the car's owner and so begins this bizarre relationship of kindred souls with troubled lives.
Nanba is a gentle giant, so gentle in fact you think that the bean-ball pitch in the opening sequence has done permanent damage. Taking pointers from a local street person, the Son of Babe Ruth, he practices swings all day until he feels he has perfected the ultimate swing. He finds new life in his chaotic relationship with Eiko and soon enough begins a small crime spree to support her addictions for alcohol and baseball.
Eiko is abusive drunk with a great rack [sadly just a prosthetic effect guys]. She drinks all day and night, we never get to know too much about her actually, and she watches baseball whenever she can. As abusive as Eiko is, she teeters on either side of the justice fence; one minute she is kicking a kogyaru's ass for money then turning around and jumping up and down on the roof of a car that is illegally parked. What she sees in Nanba is dense brute force that is at her bidding and able to meet her needs fiscally and physically.
Ishioka was at the top of his game in high school. Baseball, as well, was his life. But he blew his elbow at the nationals and his amateur sports career never got off the ground either. Now, Ishioka is police officer in the same community and his own apathy carries over into his job, making him an unusually uncaring servant of society. Fully aware of the robberies carried out by a bat wielding wacko Ishioka chooses not to take any action. Instead he mocks anyone who comes to him with a report.
Green Minds, Metal Bats emerges as a tale of apathetic and lost souls, all brought together by the game they love and obsess over. Both Ishioka and Nanba's dreams of professional baseball have been dashed, but in that one fleeting moment at the end of the film when Ishioka and Nanba face off for the last time it is Nanba who says, ‘This is the best day of my life'. Why? Perhaps it is the promise of freedom, both literally from Ishioka and symbolically for Nanba. It he hits the ball Ishioka will let him and Eiko go free. As well, if he hits the ball he is no longer burdened by his past failures.
There is life after baseball; you just have to be willing to look for it. For that matter, there is life after any failure or hurdle as we see in the side story of the mayor's son. Being exploited for money by one of the local bullies who took photos of his genitalia he decides to strike back, using the Olympic flame. Sure, the results are somewhat disastrous and darkly funny but by gosh, he's making an effort. Sunsets and beaches await us all. We just have to willing to move on and seek them out.
Technical Information: The DVD of Green Minds, Metal Bats is the R2 2-disc set available over at YesAsia. Sadly, with most Asian releases only the features are subtitled. So if you don't know Japanese you're out of luck with the bonus features. Take some classes and perhaps in a couple years you can come back to the discs and understand the dialogue on the extras disc.
Interview with Takehara Pistol, Sakai Maki, Ando Masanobu, and Others
Seishun Kinzoku Bat Spin-Off
Kumakiri Kazuyoshi and Takehara Pistol Teach-In
Talk Show (3 Parts)
Yakozen's Naraba, Tomo Yo Film Edition Video Clip
Teaser and Trailer