Ballmastrz: 9009 Episode 2 Review: With the Burning Spirit of Teamwork in Her Heart!

Gaz Digzy goes through growing pains with her new team as this insane series gets even crazier.

This Ballmastrz: 9009 review contains spoilers.

Ballmastrz: 9009 Episode 2

“The hopeless leading the hopeless-er. A tale too sad for the saddest of poems.”

It’s not easy being new somewhere, especially when that somewhere is part of a team. It’s an experience where first impressions are crucial. You want to show everybody who you are, but it’s important to not come on too strong. This is a situation that Gaz Digzy finds herself in as the newest member of the Leptons, but it’s also territory that applies to Ballmastrz: 9009.

The first episode of Ballmastrz  does a reasonable job to establish this wacked out future world, the purpose and stakes behind its titular sport, and the punishment that the acclaimed Ballmaster, Gaz Digzy, now faces that’s put her in this cruddy situation in the first place. While the series premiere faced the unfortunate task of laying a lot of pipe and establishing the rules of this complicated universe, this episode is able to relax a little more and start to explore some of the other corners and dynamics of this entertainment-hungry world.

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The main focus of this episode is that Digzy asserts herself as captain and tries to whip everyone into shape by breaking through to them in various ways. This leads to a lot more conflict than it does progress, but it’s the rough start that the Leptons need to finally turn themselves around. That is it would be if Digzy didn’t decide to then totally betray her team because it’s more convenient for her. It also makes for a nice undercutting of expectations here. Ballmastrz  wants its audience to understand that it’s not interested in the typical sports and team clichés.

This betrayal might not originate from Gaz Digzy, but she takes to it with little hesitation. The Ball prepositions that he and Digzy screw the rest of the other Leptons over in favor of supporting themselves and making sure they get out okay, regardless of the team’s ranking. Gaz Digzy doesn’t just disregard the rest of the team, but she actively uses them against each other in a way that seriously cripples them.

Speaking of Digzy’s teammates, “With the Burning Spirit of Teamwork in Her Heart!” does shed a little more light on the rest of the show’s characters. There’s some general background history on the Leptons, who apparently come from a bottom of the barrel garbage planet that seem to be the punching bag for every other universe.

There are also many more details given towards the history of Umbilicus, like how he’s spent two years in intense training under a waterfall as he wears the stoic samurai warrior in training trope into the ground. It’s pretty damn funny that this guy has put himself through hell and become a laughingstock paraplegic as a result of his rigorous “training.” It’s ruined his life and it’s a great, unique take on this type of fighter.

Unfortunately we don’t get any more details on the tiny Gray alien other than that he slices up real well. There’s also a tiny bit more to say on Dee Dee, the anime babe who has an “innate kindness” and empathy to everything around her, even tears. There are still plenty of Lepton members that need to become less of caricatures and more like real characters, but the show is slowly getting there.

On the opposite side of our heroes, the team that the “good guys” face up against in this episode is the Misfit Murder Squad. The crew appears to be a pretty eclectic, frightening looking bunch here. They also look like they’d be friends with the Jailbot from Superjail!  It’s unclear if every episode will introduce a new team and rival for the Leptons to square off with, but Karacas and company clearly have enough creativity and ambition to make such an idea happen if they’re interested. Oh, and the repetition of “Ballmasters” throughout the episode is definitely starting to grow on me.

In the animation department, there are plenty of those beautiful “story board” sketch-like segments in this episode. They appear to pop up during the especially adrenaline-heavy segments of ball matches, but they’re a delight whenever they appear. It’s that raw, rougher animation style that Ballmastrz  and Christy Karacas’ brand bring to the table that make this show so important. More programs on Adult Swim should take advantage of the animation in the same way that’s done here. There are also some new, elegant music cues that occur in this episode that really work well with the chaotic, relentless style of its action. It’s exciting to see that the program isn’t going to back down in that department either.

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The episode ends with a serious development where Ace, the plucky, optimistic boy from the Leptons, fuses together with the Ball into some sort of Gundam/Transformer (which continues the show’s apparent anime influence) creation that wields incredible powers. This apparently is the titular Ballmaster and even Quasar is impressed to see this urban legend that’s last been seen since the Rad Wars.

This display instantly puts Ace on the fast track to ballmaster superstardom and for once Gaz feels second best. While the following episodes will no doubt explore Ace’s understanding and mastery of this new form, it might be a freshly inspired Gaz who is eager to show off that she’s still a big deal, transformation or not.

Overall this episode shows even more promise than the premiere and the two gain a real advantage by airing together as a block. That allows the full scope of this show to be clear and it gives off a better impression of what it’s interested in doing. Additionally, the weakest aspect of the pilot — the show’s characters — get a major upgrade in this episode, although there’s still a lot to do here. What’s clear is that Ballmastrz: 9009  is aware of the areas that it’s lacking in and is set to slowly resolve them as the show goes on.

Also, was the Ball’s incognito disguise a Warden from Superjail! costume? It certainly looked like it…

Ballmastrz: 9009 airs Sundays at midnight on Adult Swim with back-to-back episodes.


3.5 out of 5