This Ballmastrz: 9009 review contains spoilers
Ballmastrz: 9009 Episode 6
“You gotta’ give the people what they want! People want balls!”
Everybody wants to feel immortal or have some part of them live forever and not be forgotten. Collectibles and sports cards are fascinating for this reason because they function as a snapshot in time of respective players that does immortalize them, but it also becomes a way for fans to celebrate and enjoy a sport outside of the actual sport.
Curiously, Ace’s love for collectible Ballmaster holocards fulfills both of these things and he gets to experience both sides of this love as he’s both a Ballmaster player and a fan. This episode is very much about that joy and the immortality of sports collectibles, but it also highlights the dangerous side of it all. Like most topics in Ballmastrz,it presents this as a double-edged sword and then grabs on tight to both edges and prepares to get bloody.
It’s holocard day for the Ballmastrz! Holocard day is that momentous occasion when all of the Ballmastrz players get digitized—or holotized, or whatever—into collectible holocards. Ace gets excited about basically every single aspect of the Ballmaster league, but this detail has him particularly ecstatic. Even if he becomes one of the worst players in Ballmastrz history or gets kicked out of the league, he’ll always have this holocard that proves that he’s a winner.
The episode has some fun with how each of the characters stress and go through the grueling decision of what their holocard pose will be. Everybody wants something optimal and not something craptimal and while Ace overthinks the procedure, Gaz basically sleepwalks through it (Babyball certainly nails his egocentric pose though). Everyone is ready to attack holocards for their lame nature, but Ace can’t wait to show off his extensive collection to his teammates. This feels pretty on point with Ace’s unbridled optimism, but it’s interesting to learn that most people seem to think that holocards are a lame gimmick. That is until pride and money get involved. But mostly money.
When Gaz learns that Ace possesses a rare Gaz Digzy rookie card, she destroys the piece of memorabilia as quickly as possible. This relic of the past deeply embarrasses Gaz, but for more phallic-related reasons than one would think.
After Gaz goes into a tirade about how she’s cleaned the world of these rookie holocards and safely secured them all, Ace drops the bombshell that these can actually rack up a good deal of cash. In fact, Gaz’ entire collection could bring them a small fortune, or in Gaz’ case, approximately 100,000 beers, give or take a thousand. The only problem is that she’s left them at her crazy ex-boyfriend’s place.
Gaz has no interest in visiting Jo Jo Cracko, this psycho old flame, but neither Ace nor Babyball see it as a problem. The two even become inspired to rescue Gaz’ lost holocards, but unfortunately this common goal splits these two allies apart. Babyball wants the cards for their high value on the collector’s market, but Ace wants to secure them to preserve Gaz’ honor. This elegantly breaks down the two sides of collecting and what inspires people to do it, but it also becomes the driving force of the episode.
Gaz, Ace, and Babyball are able to put their different viewpoints aside as they visit Gaz’ ex together for the greater good. They’re barely there for a few minutes before high teach surveillance and vengeful security balls kick into action. This may seem like an extreme measure at first, but soon it becomes clear why Gaz’ former lover has such over the top precautions in place. The trio isn’t deemed “worthy” of entry, so the security system takes the initiative to exterminate these “losers.”
This makes for a particularly awesome sequence and it’s nice to see these characters apply their Ballmastrz skills to everyday combat. Crayzar’s history lesson on the Ballmastrz explained that they were originally used as combat weapons, so it’s only appropriate to see Ace and Babyball use their Ballmaster transformation to kick ass on the battlefield. There are some dizzying visuals that incorporate renegade missiles and hordes of security balls and Ballmastrzalways excels when its animation is as busy and filled as possible.
The gang disposes of the security system with little difficulty, but the next gatekeeper in place is the faithful servant/bestie of Gaz’ ex, Yugi-ohy (that name). There’s a whole Kill la Kill—or Final Fantasy VII, take your pick—thing going on with Yugi-ohy and it was only a matter of time until the series indulged in the insane swords and blades niche that anime handles with such enthusiasm. Yugi-ohy is such an exaggerated stereotype and the episode has a lot of fun pushing this as far as it can go. He speaks with this broken fortune cookie wisdom that makes for another nice detail in their epic showdown.
Since Yugi-ohy is quick to turn to his massive blade for defense, it only makes sense that Ace and Babyball bring their Ball Sword technique back into play. What follows is a colossal sword fight that feels like if Godzilla and King Kong got to wield blades in battle. Around all of the heightened swordplay there are also hundreds of robot guards who let off thousands of bullets. It’s a suspenseful, gorgeous fight sequence that nicely compliments the one that came before it.
Just when it seems like Ace, Gaz, and Babyball make some headway in their battle against Yugi-ohy and his guards, Babyball finally learns just who Gaz’ ex is. Jo Jo Cracko is the head of Ulsa Guerin’s mob and suddenly the gung-ho ball is incredibly eager to turn tail and not get put on the vicious mob lord’s hit list.
Unfortunately, they can’t escape quickly enough and Gaz needs to reunite with this unwelcome face from her past. By the way, Jo Jo Cracko is a supremely unusual character. He’s an incredibly vulgar, violent individual, but his voice is so swallowed and high-pitched that it’s unclear if you should scream or laugh at him.
The final twist in all of this is that Jo Jo is actually intimidated by how jealous and clingy Gaz is and their relationship is actually the opposite of how she’s billed it. This is a little predictable and it feels like the episode only holds off on the Jo Jo reveal for so long so it can have this ending that undercuts his power. That being said, it’s refreshing to see that Gaz and Jo Jo’s relationship brokeboth of them in different ways.
They’re both the weak, scared ones here. Gaz might be described as the crazy one, but Jo jo is definitely more worried to see her than she is to see him. The final minutes make this much more about Gaz’ relationship and turn her lewdy holocards into an afterthought. Jo Jo can’t wait to get rid of them—in fact he even tried to give them back to her—and what’s really important here is the emotional catharsis that’s gained.
It’s also a small detail, but it’s nice to see the show visit a different planet or galaxy in each episode. It’s an effective way to get to show off different art styles and hint at the larger culture and universe of this series. It’s a fun, easy way to flesh all of this out and it’s just nice to see the show continue that trend instead of having every team come to them. For instance, this episode’s location, Ulsa Guerin, takes place on a very classical, Roman décor, which gives a fresh look to the chaos in this episode.
“Honor! Money! Swords! Dongs!” is a very busy episode, but it has a strong message and a heavy string of action that keeps it moving. While there’s plenty of chaos that happens in this installment, it still very much functions as a astute character study in the series’ three main characters. Gaz, Ace, and Babyball have never been better defined than in this episode and while all of the Leptons are great, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get these three out on their own adventures more often. With another episode of Ballmastrzkeeping its action off of the courts, the series only continues to prove its versatility and potential.
P.S. Every episode title is incredible and I love so much that they borrow that insane naming structure that anime uses, but this title is their best one yet! They’re almost moving beyond parody at this point. They’re getting to the point where each title is essentially a comedic synopsis of the episode and it’s magnificent.