Sometimes, the best characters are the ones you hate. And sometimes, hating them makes you love them.
Battery is a baseball anime about Takumi Harada, a talented young pitcher who moves to a rural town where he meets Gō Nagakura and together they form a battery. Unfortunately, while Takumi possesses the foundation and skills to be a star player, his personality leaves much to be desired…
Note: This article contains mild spoilers for Battery.
Takumi is one on those “single-minded geniuses.” His sole obsession is baseball and everything else might as well not exist. Anything that might get in the way of playing baseball is the enemy and anything anyone says or does that doesn’t have to do with baseball is a distraction or an annoyance. He will show some kindness to his little brother, Seiha, but even then he can be cold or even cruel.
I’ll be perfectly honest here: I hate Takumi. He’s arrogant, selfish, disrespectful, and disdainful. I initially sympathized with him when it was shown that his mother didn’t share his views on baseball. However, it soon became clear from the way he treated her like a bug that her dislike wasn’t of the sport itself, but of the way his obsession with it made him treat anyone who didn’t share it with contempt.
It wouldn’t be so bad if he weren’t also so arrogant. Takumi seems to hold the belief that his own superior skills in baseball give him free rein to do as he pleases, rules be damned. His argument is always that things don’t matter unless they have something to do with baseball. This reaches its peak when Takumi openly defies the school baseball team’s coach’s orders to cut his hair, stating that it doesn’t matters because the coach has no choice to use him regardless since he’s the best pitcher.
I would say Takumi has some undiagnossed mental issues that make him not realize what he is doing–which would make me at least empathize with him a little more–but early on, it’s shown that he actually has feelings of regret for treating his little brother harshly. He’s also shown to sometimes say he doesn’t care about something when his actions prove otherwise. If his reasons for being a complete ass were simply because he didn’t understand, I don’t think I would have had such negative feelings for him. But as it stands, he seems fully aware that he’s being cruel and disrespectful; he just doesn’t care.
And that’s why I also love him.
Characters in stories come and go. More often than not, I’ll have positive feelings about a character–either that or they’ll be inconsequential to my emotional spectrum and simply be remembered as “that character who did that thing.” At the most, I’ll find a character annoying. Someone whose antics make me roll my eyes whenever they show up.
It is very rare that I’ll run into a character that I actively hate–and these are the rare gems that I treasure.
As I’ve stated in the past, I consider myself to be a rather empathic person. I like good characters who I can ride along with on the journey that is the story. It’s why I tend to believe character-driven stories are superior to plot-driven ones. If I have to choose between a good character or a good plot, I’ll choose character every time. So a character that can draw out an emotional response is like candy to me. I can probably count on one hand the number of characters who I’ve encountered that I ended up actively hating.
As for Takumi, perhaps its not that I love to hate him; I love that I hate him. And that makes me love him. If Takumi had just been an annoying character, I wouldn’t care about his story. If he’d been a character I felt positively about, his story might not stand out among all the other stories out there. For now, my hate for him makes me want to see where his story is going to go. Is he going to get his comeuppance? Or will he redeem himself? More likely it’ll be both, and I’m looking forward to seeing it all play out.
Battery can be viewed with English subtitles on Amazon Prime Video.