Lest anyone think we weren’t going to get around to one, Adachi-sensei delivers an all-baseball (with just a little service) chapter this month.
With the Tokyo tournament starting, it seems an open question whether the Tachibana Brothers would be rooting for a win that would allow the charade they’re playing out to continue, or a loss that would expose their ace as the fraud he stubbornly refuses to acknowledge himself to be – on or off the field. To my eyes, the evidence is mounting that Noukaido-kun is hiding something – almost certainly some kind of illness. It explains a lot, most obviously his frequent absences from practice, and most recently the loss of even his usual mediocre stuff and his absence from the opening game of the tournament.
The bigger question is, why would he and his father be working so hard to hide such a thing – and acting like such douchebags in the process? I suppose there’s the obvious answer that if the truth were known it’d be harder to justify keeping Noukaido as Meisei’s ace, that that seems a bit too simple to me. Also adding to the conspiracy vibe is the fact that in Noukaido’s absence it isn’t Touma who starts the game vs. well-regarded Mizutani, but a scrub – and one who gives us runs in each of the first two innings, wiping out a lead that had been largely forged by the Tachibanas in the first inning. Of course that two-run first came against a reserve pitcher, as Mizutani was saving their own ace for a better opponent.
Touma remains easily the most interesting character of the bunch, slowly but surely carving out a place for himself in the lexicon of Adachi male leads. I was struck (sorry) by the fact that he laid down a perfect bunt for a hit in the first inning despite being visibly incensed over not pitching. That says a lot about his inner resolve (if you know baseball you know what I mean). Otomi later tells one of her friends who complains about Touma’s loud on-field celebrations that “He’s been holding it in for so long. He usually can only let it out when he’s on the mound.” So far Touma is definitely more Tatsuya tha Kou, but that only makes sense I suppose, given the setting for Mix.