Takaya Abe (阿部 隆也 Abe Takaya) is the main and most experienced catcher on Nishiura High School's baseball team, as well as one of the team's vice-captains (the other one being Sakaeguchi). As such, he forms the team's battery with Ren Mihashi.
Abe is the team's catcher and also one of their better batters, coming from a long line of catchers. He has been playing baseball since his primary school days, and his skills as a catcher were developed during middle school, when he played in the Little Seniors league. Abe was paired with a talented pitcher named Haruna, whose pitches were so hard and lacking in control that he was constantly covered in bruises.
In the first six months, he constantly spilled Haruna's pitches but he persevered and worked hard to catch them, knowing that if he succeeded he would be the starting catcher for sure. Abe initially admired Haruna's skills, though this later grew into resentment due to Haruna's uncompromising attitude and strict refusal to throw more than 80 pitches per game, even if it meant walking out in the middle of a critical game situation, and in little to no occasions followed Abe's signs (not necessarily not wanting to, but rather not being able to due to his crappy control). His resentment was worsened by Haruna's dismissive attitude towards their loss, and in Abe's opinion, for treating his other team members simply as "training equipment" and putting himself above the team's wellbeing.
Abe's terrible experience of catching for Haruna left such a negative impact in him that he even resorted to dismissing all the schools with good baseball teams to avoid another similar situation with other pitchers. Instead, he takes a big gamble and comes to a no-name school like Nishiura who is only starting their baseball club. He vows to reach Koshien by training a pitcher to absolutely obeys him, unlike Haruna. Because of this, Abe initially values Mihashi for all of his traits that are opposite to Haruna's; his obedience, strong desire to stay on the mound, and excellent control. However, as the story progresses, he comes to appreciate just how much effort Mihashi puts in baseball, and earnestly wishes to help him grow into a strong pitcher and form a genuine trust with him as a battery.
PersonalityEditAt a glance, Abe is a serious and mature character and doesn't mince his words when talking to anyone. Thus many of his teammates, with the exception of Tajima and Hanai, find him intimidating sometimes. Mihashi in particular finds him extremely terrifying and often fear of angering him. Because of their opposing personalities, Abe constantly struggles to communicate with Mihashi, often flaring his short temper instead whenever they interact. He is always honest with Mihashi and can be incredibly blunt with his criticisms towards him, but he also equally praises and expresses his appreciations to Mihashi's hardworks and talents. Hanai has noted that Abe is the only one in the team who doesn't coddle Mihashi, and Mihashi on the other hand appreciates all of Abe's praises and criticisms because he knows Abe genuinely cares about his wellbeing, though this doesn't help in dissipating any of his fear for him.
He is very strategically-minded, cunning, and always showcases an incredible concentration in any baseball match. He uses these habits to his advantage, as he is very good at predicting which of Mihashi's pitches will cause a batter to strike out. Because of these traits, the team usually relies on him to come up with strategies especially against strong teams. Due to his previous experience with Haruna, he was also a borderline authoritatian when he first met Mihashi, immediately offering a deal with him where he promised to turn Mihashi into a real ace, in exchange of Mihashi never disagreeing with his signs. As the story progresses, he slowly changes his mindset of Mihashi, and instead actively pursues a more balanced and healthier relationship with the pitcher.
Despite his bad temper, Abe surprisingly handles criticisms well, often not taking them personally and is willing to change himself should it benefit the team. For example, when Oki admitted that Abe's loud voice, even when he is laughing, is actually intimidating to him and Mihashi and also several other teammates, he took great pains to change his speaking voice and spoke more gently with Mihashi. His loud voice and gruff manner have also caused many misunderstandings for him, such as when his teammates thought he was angry when he's actually not, or when the girls in the softball team found him scary.
While Abe can be well-mannered when he wants to, he doesn't seem to put much stock in social etiquettes, for example in the seniors-juniors hierarchy. He talked back to Haruna on their first meeting, causing Haruna to be annoyed by him. He doesn't address Haruna with any honorifics when talking about him as a third person, and he also mostly ignores him even when the latter tries to get in contact with him. Because of this, Haruna has noted that Abe has a personality that makes him difficult to work under somebody else, hence his decision to join Nishiura which is comprised of only first-years.
Abe is incredibly passionate about baseball, often closely following and analysing all the matches and even knowing the players' conditions, and when asked by an impressed Tajima, he simply mentioned it's his hobby to keep track of everything. He also immensely enjoys his position as a catcher, and takes his role as one very seriously, especially when it comes to taking care of the pitcher. As such, he can become very vexed whenever he watches other teams' catchers not properly utilising their pitchers' skills, or even worse, when their leading is actually harming the pitchers. Abe is incredibly protective of his pitcher, and when he was charged by Momoe to look after Mihashi, he takes this very seriously, constantly monitoring Mihashi's practicing, what he is eating, his weight, and how much sleep he's getting, which causes Izumi to note that he's very bossy. In the match between Nishiura and Musashino, Haruna took advantage of this trait, revealing to his team that Abe has a habit of choosing a pitch that would be the least straining to the pitcher so they could somewhat predict what type of pitches he will ask from Mihashi. He is also a bit of a worrywart as he always fusses over his teammates' conditions, but he takes it to another level when it comes to Mihashi, as pointed out by Haruna who called him an overprotective idiot .
Despite his seriousness, he is easily moved to tears, especially by Mihashi's past or being thanked by him. Despite constantly giving praises to Mihashi, Abe doesn't handle receiving praises well himself, often blushing whenever Mihashi praises him instead.
Abe is a good catcher even back in his middle school days, as he and Haruna even made it to the top 16 in Eastern Japan. Analytical and meticulous, Abe will thoroughly study the opponents' batting statistics and habits to pick the right pitches to get an out from them. While Mihashi's former catcher dismissed his pitching ability because of his slow pitches, Abe is quick to deduce that Mihashi sacrifices speed for an excellent control of the ball, and implements his pitching control to the team's strategies. Under normal circumstances, Mihashi's fastball is easily hittable due to its low speed, but Abe manages to give an excellent lead to trick the opponents' batters, often causing them to strike out instead.
A number of players have acknowledged his skills as a catcher, most notably Tosei's captain Kawai, who noticed that Abe is the brain behind the team. Both Bijoudaisayama's coach, Roka, and Kawai agree that in order to beat Nishiura, they must hold down the catcher. This was later proven to be true, as the team was visibly shaken after Abe had to be replaced due to injury, partly because Nishiura does not have enough reliable relief players, and partly because Abe has always been a major driving force in the field, generally shouting out instructions to his teammates during play and closely analyzing the opposition. Abe is also skillful at playing mind games against the opponents in order to make them lose concentration, a skill that even Haruna acknowledges, albeit in a mocking manner.
Abe is not above manipulating the loop holes that exist in the baseball rules in order to increase their chances of winning, such as when he decided to employ intentional walk on Sakitama's strongest batter in order to demoralise the entire team. While Momoe accepted his strategy as the best course of action, she also noted that it is unusual for a first-year to think in such a way. However, he also possesses good sportmanship and will not purposely harm the opponents, even going as far as sacrificing his foothold in order to avoid stepping on the opposing runner and injuring his own knee instead. His moral is a bit more lax when it comes to Haruna though, as he purposely asked Mihashi to throw a dangerous ball towards Haruna, fully knowing that with Mihashi's control he would not injure Haruna but instead throw him off balance. He later got a scolding from Momoe because even with Mihashi's control, those pitches still come with a high risk of injury.
Abe is a good batter, as Momoe has noted that if Abe is not the one responsible for coming up with strategies, she would have placed him at a higher batting order. He also has a good batting average and the opposing battery is usually cautious of him whenever his turn to bat comes up. As an incredibly focused and observant player, Abe will utilise every single situation that will bring the most benefit to his team. For example during their match against Tosei, Abe purposely aimed a grounder at a particular spot that made the ball difficult to roll due to the rain, thus making it difficult for the infielders to retrieve the ball. After Tajima and Hanai, Momoe has also considers him to be the clean-up hitter.
Abe scored high on his mental strength when the entire Nishiura team took a test, possessing a level similar to national players. Even when faced under great pressure, such as discovering that the opposing team was utilising his leading habits and turn it into a weakness in his defence, Abe remained composed and was able to quickly change his own strategies accordingly.
Abe and Mihashi are currently working together to have a proper battery. In the beginning, Mihashi relied too much on Abe and believed that he was only a good pitcher if Abe was the catcher. However, when Abe was injured, they both realized that they need to rely on each other. They are currently working on learning how to trust each other completely. But, as time goes on, Abe starts to become more protective of Mihashi and cares for him, even getting upset when Mihashi ignores and doesn't talk to him to the point of getting angry.
Momoe puts a certain degree of trust in Abe, for example tasking him to take care of Mihashi and devising strategies against Tosei, the team who qualified for Koshien last year. She also trusts Abe’s skills for offence, as she can usually rely on his batting skills when the team is in a tight spot. Before knowing that the pitching mix was solely decided by Abe, Momoe was also satisfied enough with the battery to mostly leave the decisions for pitches in their hands, though she later got upset after discovering that Mihashi had not been contributing his own inputs and left all the decisions to Abe. However, while Momoe is satisfied with his technical skills, she believes that Abe could improve on his rather extreme view as a catcher so he could form a much healthier relationship with his pitcher and always tries to subtly guide him in that direction.
Along with Coach Momoe, Hanai and Abe work together to analyze data and work on strategies. Hanai also chose Abe as the vice captain because it is easier for them to consult things together as classmates. There are times when Abe teases Hanai, like his terrible luck of picking strong teams as their opponent or naming the field’s fence as Hanai’s fence after Hanai managed to convince the school staff for the budget. It is worthy of note that both Hanai and Abe were annoyed by Mihashi's personality in the beginning, opposite to the rest of the team which thought nothing of it. As such, Hanai is typically more sympathetic to Abe compared to the others whenever Abe struggles with Mihashi, and sometimes asks how Abe is coping with the pitcher so far. Because of this, Abe shares most of his concerns about Mihashi with Hanai. Both of them are also the more level-headed members, as they are usually the ones who pull the more unruly members back on track especially during study sessions.
Abe is aware of Tajima‘s incredible baseball skills since the latter’s middle school days in his former team, Arakawa Sea Bream and he considers Tajima joining Nishiura as their team‘s lucky break. He also approves of Tajima’s skill as a catcher and believes he is the only one who will be able to calm a panic-stricken Mihashi should he be replaced on the field. Likewise, when Tajima replaced Abe in their match against Bijoudaisayama, he also acknowledged that Abe’s role as a catcher is a difficult position to be in. On the other hand, Tajima also believes that Abe (and Momoe) is too by the book and often pulls Mihashi into whatever shenanigans that would be disapproved by him. Similarly Abe also thinks Tajima is an airhead, hence why he could get along well with Mihashi. Despite their opposite personalities, they get along well enough and call each other on a first name basis.
Mizutani is often baffled by Abe‘s lack of interests in girls, but as they are classmates, Mizutani soon got used to his disinterest. He is also already familiar with Abe’s serious attitude towards baseball, as he notes to Izumi how baseball is the only thing they talk about in the classroom. Due to Mizutani’s crush on the team’s manager, Shino’oka, he gets a bit insecure over Abe when Shino’oka knows quite a great deal about him, though he later placates himself that it is only due to the fact that both Abe and Shino’oka went to the same middle school.
Izumi is often annoyed with Abe's antics towards Mihashi and has noted that Abe is bossy. However, he also notes that Abe cares about the wellbeing of the other teammates too. Izumi is among the first few members who called Abe by his first name, Takaya.
Abe and Sakaeguchi were in the same Little Seniors League (though in different teams; Sakaeguchi was placed in a weak team while Abe was placed in a strong team) prior to them joining Nishiura’s baseball team. Despite this, Abe and Sakaeguchi did not become close during their league days, with Abe admitting that his first interaction with Sakaeguchi was during the Nishiura’s admission examination days, and even then Sakaeguchi mostly spent his time going to the toilet due to nervousness. Sakaeguchi on the other hand seems to be more aware of Abe’s presence, as he knows about Abe’s past with Haruna in the league but isn’t privy to the details apart from them forming a strong battery. He was surprised to see Abe applying to a different high school from Haruna’s.
It is implied that Abe and Sakaeguchi were the first to join Nishiura’s baseball club, as both him and Abe had been coming to the school during the spring break to clean and prepare the field for the baseball team. Inside the team, Sakaeguchi acts as the peacemaker and often intervenes whenever Abe is losing his patience towards Mihashi.
Suyama shares a certain level of seriousness that is similar to Abe, and as such he usually can relate to Abe and agreeing with/defending him whenever the topics of girls come up, courtesy of Mizutani and Tajima. Both him and Abe also often share the uncommon traits among the Nishiura team such as not being ticklish, much to the bewilderment of the other members.
Oki is noted to feel scared of Abe, especially when he raises his voice.
Abe has not been shown to interact much with Nishihiro, however, he cares for his wellbeing just like the rest of the team, as noted by Izumi. He shows concerns when Nishihiro recounts some pain on his shoulder and asks the latter to tell him Immediately if he suffers anymore injury as it could lead to something serious.
In the Seniors' league, Abe was paired up with Haruna. He would throw all out to Abe, which caused Abe to get many bruises because of his bad control. At first, Abe felt grateful for being paired up with him, but later began resenting him after he filled up all the bases and stepped off because of his 80 pitch limit. Due to this, Abe calls Haruna "the worst" for being the ace, and starts ignoring him once he enrolls in Nishiura. Both sides maintain a certain level of antagonism towards each other even after they retired from the Seniors league, as Haruna immediately looks down on Mihashi after finding out he is Abe's battery mate, while Abe is determined to prove Mihashi is a better pitcher than Haruna. Their relationship slightly improves after Haruna apologizes to Abe for his attitude during their Seniors' league days, though Abe still remains rather abrasive when talking to Haruna. While they become less hostile to each other as the series progresses, their petty fights still carry over to the match between Nishiura and Musashino.
Takaya's mother is sometimes seen at Nishiura's games along with the other parents of the club members. According to Abe, she is a fan of baseball and is much more familiar with the baseball rules compared to the other parents. Misae dotes more on Takaya's younger brother, Shun, as she will prioritise going to his match over Takaya's and complains whenever Takaya eats his brother’s portion of the food. However, Takaya appears to be unconcerned by this.
Takaya and his father often watch baseball matches together and even while eating meals, much to his mother’s dismay. Takashi is just as passionate for baseball as his son, and is willing to stay up all night and analyse tapes after tapes of baseball matches to help his son develop strategies and they are also like-minded when it comes to forming strategies. For example, Takashi approved Abe’s plan to demoralise the opponents Sakitama and they even shared a creepy smile afterwards, as noted by Abe’s mother.
After meeting Mihashi, Takashi questions Takaya about his relationship with Mihashi and states that if Takaya thinks his relationship with Mihashi is fine, then his friendships probably don’t mean a lot. Takaya also shows his more abrasive side to his father, as he can raise his voice and slam the table in front of Takashi when provoked. Takashi tries to make Takaya and Mihashi closer together, like by mentioning that they should use first names to address to each other. It is also noted that Takaya comes from a long line of catcher, which would make Takashi himself a former catcher.
- (To Mihashi) "I like you, not just as a pitcher. I mean, you’re making such an effort!"
- (About Mihashi) "Back then, I thought we couldn't change his weak-heartedness, and I thought it didn't have to change. I thought that as long as he didn't shake off my signs, I didn't care what his personality was like."
- (To Hanai, about Mihashi) "Am I the only one who wants to punch him sometimes when I look at him?!"
- (To Mihashi) "I will make you a true Ace!"
- (About Mihashi) "You're a good pitcher, even though you irritate me and piss me off."
- (To Mihashi and Tajima) "It's Takaya. Takaya. Not Abe, but Takaya."
- Takaya (隆也) means "To Be Prosperous" and Abe (阿部) means "Corner Division."
- Abe prefers people with nice skin and a light complexion but unlike most of his Nishiura teammates, he and Suyama do not have any fantasies on girls since they both find it gross.
- About two teams were seen talking about Takaya's choices in leads, as he often begins with two balls.
- Abe is good in mathematics, as he can be seen tutoring his teammates in that subject during exam seasons. He has also shown some affinity for physics when he explained pitching to his teammates and as noted by Mihashi's mum when he lends Mihashi books that explains the physics of pitching.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Ookiku Furikabutte Manga, Chapter 66
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Ookiku Furikabutte manga, Volume 3 Chapter 7.
- ↑ Ookiku Furikabutte manga, Volume 1 Chapter 1.
- ↑ Sakitama (S2)
- ↑ Ookiku Furikabutte manga, Volume 28 Chapter 127
- ↑ Ookiku Furikabutte manga, Volume 2 Chapter 6.
- ↑ Ookiku Furikabutte manga, Volume 23 Chapter 99.
- ↑ Ookiku Furikabutte manga, Volume 2 Chapter 7.