Diamond no Ace – 08

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We have met the enemy, and he is us.

It’s 9:35 PM in Tokyo, and another excellent sports anime is going virtually unnoticed in the English-speaking world.  I’m used to it by now but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing to me, yet it’s an inescapable fact – sports anime just don’t much interest Westerners.  Even the second season of Kurobas – a bonafide sensation in Japan –  has a minuscule 73 posts on ASF (even Diamond no Ace has more).  It’s funny because there are a fair number of anime fans and a huge number of sports fans – but it appears that apart from a tiny sliver (most of whom seem to frequent here, seemingly) there’s just no overlap between those groups.  Their loss.

The post headline wasn’t actually referring to that issue, though it certainly could, but the fact that Daiya no A is taking a very interesting route in telling its story.  Rather than focus on the opponent, the real rivalry here is internal – there can be only one ace, and right now Furuya is leagues ahead of Eijun in the race to wear the #1.  This is the nightmare of every first-year, and the risk of attending a power school – a kaibutsu who plays the same position arrives at the same time, and you’re looking at their dust for your entire high-school career.  This is the spine that runs through this series, the quest for that jersey – and it represents a different dynamic than what we’ve seen in previous baseball manga that have found their way to the talkies.

There can be no doubt that Furuya is a monster, not after he took the mound and struck out all six Yokohama batters he faced in the Kanto tournament, displaying a distinctive whirlybird finish to his delivery.  Of course the game was already lost at that point, with Seidou facing a 6-2 deficit even the momentum burst they got from Furuya’s performance could lift them to overcoming.  But the Kanto tournament is small potatoes, and it’s Koshien that’s the main dish – so from Kataoka’s perspective he lost the battle, but won the war.

In fact just as much drama is happening in the grandstands, where Haruichi has dragged a reluctant Eijun along to watch and scout future opponents.  Life is a series of galling humiliations for Eijun at this point – he sees Furuya with the easygoing Miyuki, while he’s stuck with stone-faced Chris.  Furuya is throwing all the pitches he can handle, and he keeps getting handed scrolls with increasingly rigorous training menus.  He’s embarrassed when his ignorance of fundamentals is revealed at practice – he doesn’t even know when to cover first base and where he’s expected to back up throws.  So Chris’ declaration that he’ll never be the ace as long as Furuya – who Eijun is currently watching pitch in a tournament game – is around pushes Eijun over the edge, and he lets Chris have it pretty hard.  The clincher: “I don’t ever want to end up like you.”

When the truth is revealed – Chris has in fact lost his position because he was playing with an undisclosed shoulder injury and he’s been leaving early because he goes to rehab every day – it hits pretty Eijun pretty hard.  So does Miyuki, almost, when Eijun (still not knowing the truth) blurts out that if Chris doesn’t want to practice, he should quit.  It’s the first crack in Miyuki’s happy-go-lucky facade, but in truth I can’t really blame Eijun here – it was Chris’ choice to keep the truth from him.  And as always, Eijun knows no other way than to say exactly what he thinks, and to bull straight forward.

This phase of the story is all about the learning process for Eijun, and it reveals just how ignorant he was when he arrived at Seidou.  Not only is he self-taught, but spent his childhood never watching games he wasn’t involved in – and one of the lessons of this episode is that as Takashima says, watching is a great way to learn.  He’s indeed the rough jewel (I think Biscuit Krueger-chama would love this kid), but with the right sort of polish he has much more room to grow than Furuya, whose main attribute will always be raw power – which he already has in droves.  For now the process for Eijun is basically storm in, screw up, apologize and try again – a good way to build up a lot of scar tissue quickly, if nothing else – but a keen eye will have spotted the advantages he already holds over Furuya, and know how important they’ll be later on.

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  1. e

    Everything after the running tyre gag reactions in the first half (those could get old real fast) was really really gripping and allowed for progress in our knowledge of the characters as much as progress for the characters themselves. Good job.
    And now the fangirly gut notes:
    *Eargasm: Chrisoka + srs bsnss angry Kazuya in the same episode. I can't take it*
    *Eijun's roommate really loves his pudding*
    *catchers' mitts in this show are gonna catch fire sooner or later*
    *Furuyamon still can't really catch balls ahah*
    *Chris grew pupils and gained an eye highlight for a moment in the rehab room! There's hope still! Hooray for visual clues*
    *Hooray for visual clues #2: all dem dark eyes consistently switching to a honey/amber glow in intense and emotional moments. Rawr*
    *have I said EARGASM already?*

  2. i

    a fair number of anime fans and a huge number of sports fans – in my view (being a massive fan of both), there are very few anime fans I know of who like sports. The main reason is that most anime fans enjoy that one form of entertainment alone while most sports fans would be ridiculed for liking anime as well by their buddies (I know this personally). Another thing I've found quite sad is that anime fans (particularly the loner types) have been made the mickey of by sports fans while growing up. Maybe that's why in the west where anime/manga is not as predominant an entertainment source as in Japan there are very few anime and sports fans.

  3. S

    Yup, have to agree with this. The majority of alphas aren’t into beta hobbies and vice versa, especially in the Western world. It sounds like an old-fashioned generalizing statement based on prejudices, but it’s still somewhat in effect nowadays.
    Then there are people like me, who love both anime and sports but don’t produce posts on episode forums: First of all, I don’t follow sports anime weekly, I marathon them afterwards so I hardly comment on airing episodes and second, I don’t feel there is anything interesting in a sports show to talk about. I mean, I love watching them but I never feel the need to talk about it. I’d rather discuss real-life professional matches than fictional games.

    And by the way, what’s ASF?

  4. e

    @Sylpher: ASF = AnimeSuki Forum 🙂

  5. i

    That site should be MSF – Moe Suki Forum.

  6. Z

    Truly the epitome of anime discourse.

  7. t

    that's madhouse and IG for you.
    they did the..whole "case" of Eijun and Chris pretty good.
    you can see how it is a work between two experienced studios. and with madhouse it's always about the eyes. like in Hajime no ippo, now with DnA.
    but more than that, the episode didn't revolve only around Chris and Eijun, but in a deeper level which will stick with us for long in DnA – interaction in a team. baseball is a team play. you must respect your fellows.
    while it's true Eijun wasn't at fault, but in fact it's more correct to say "wasn't at complete fault". you can't say "I didn't know" and expect to use it as an excuse without even the slightest of shame or responsibility. that's not how it works, especially in japanese society. and Eijun reaction was normal. what may seems a bit exaggerated to us, isn't like that in their own eyes. besides, the whole.."case" really affected him.

    speaking of excuses, Miyuki and others knew about Chris, it's simply Eijun and some others around him who didn't know. I am sure Eijun's room-mate knew…
    so you know…I did expect him to know at least what happened.
    maybe then it was more likely to confront him about X and Y. yet he would be proven wrong XD

  8. Of course Miyuki knew – but that's the whole issue, really. How did you expect Eijun to know if no one told him? And it seems based on the gossipy second-years that they didn't know either, though I wouldn't bet the ranch on that.

  9. t

    Miyuki is a second year as far as I recall.
    so yes, I expect 2nd years to know what happened last year.
    and again, he has 2 room-mate senpai..one of them is a third-year (the bigger, forgot his name..Masuko?:S).
    and it's not like we're talking about a day or something, this had happened for a week..maybe less..but something like that. you know how it is, people talk with each other (and they did talk, we saw), especially room-mate.

    yet of course, I am not looking for little plot-holes or something.
    that's what happened and I am OK with that. really.
    and besides, it's not issue really who knew and why Eijun was out of the loop, it has further implication on Eijun and about baseball as a team.

  10. s

    I think that even if Eijun's roommates do know about Chris' injury (which they most likely do, given the timeline of things), it's not really their right to tell Eijun as it's not really their business. Chris has chosen not to tell Eijun, and I don't think it's necessarily wrong that they respect his decision.

    In the end, it's a complex situation and I don't think anyone is really entirely in the wrong for all that transpired. Sure, Miyuki's reaction to Eijun's disrespect was a bit of an overreaction (violence is never the answer, etc. etc.), but if I were in his position, I probably would have reacted quite poorly as well. As for Eijun, no matter how you look at it, the things he said to and regarding Chris were disrespectful and rude, and his being brash and bull-headed by nature is not much of an excuse. Yes, he assumed based on what little information he was given, but even so, it's rude to assume things about someone that you don't really know.

    That being said, it's good to see that the characters have such flaws because, as difficult as it may be to watch at times, it makes them human. And if nothing else, I think Eijun's reaction to his mistake is promising in and of itself with regards to his character development.

    Now that I got that character meta (?? does this count as meta even haha) out of the way, I just want to say that I really like how DnA manages the balance between being hilariously entertaining (perhaps I've a juvenile sense of humor, but this show has me regularly cackling in delight) and maintaining character drama/tension. It's easily one of my most-anticipated anime of the week. :Db

  11. s

    Yikes, I wrote way more than I expected. Sorry about the text-dump, Enzo!

  12. R

    I think part of the lack in overlap is very much because it's the west. When I go to Japan, you can have people who are fans of all sorts of things, from sports to music to competitive speed reading or what have you and 9 out of 10 times none of them would bat an eye at liking anime or manga about their hobby. It almost feels like anime is this sort of big blanket than covers most people and then you have the smaller groups underneath it. Kind of like how most people in the west wouldn't bat an eye if a basball player said that he liked to watch The Rookie or something, because movies are sort of universal (in western culture).

    On the other hand, if you were a sports fan you either kept quiet about being an anime fan…or you just weren't an anime fan >_> At least, that's how my high school certainly seemed (based off of the few friends I had in sports teams who would rather run laps all day than tell their team they liked anime, something that always pissed me off and made me want to slap every one of their team members)

    Ironically, I'm an anime fan that ended up being a sort of sports fan BECAUSE of anime (and Enzou. I will not repeat this enough times, my love for sports anime/manga at least 95% Enzou's fault…and 5% Murata-sensei's fault)

  13. S

    Many times things don't need to be said. Even things that are unknown can be appreciated by flowing with the situation as it unfolds. Eijn is guilty of disrespect and it is this level of gall that causes Miyuki to almost strike him. Akitsu Masanosuke, in the House of Five Leaves, is also reproached for not reading situational subtext. He too says what he wants.

  14. Eijun is 15 years old and not especially subtle. Subtext isn't something you can expect him to be good at.

  15. S

    While not going with the West/East split on expressiveness versus restraint (Sweden and Finland don't raise their hands as they assume its a given which side they stand with), even at 15 you can be expected to watch, listen and learn as opposed to just saying whatever comes to mind. Eijun may not be subtle, but he must know in some way despite his plow ahead personality, that calling a longtime member out especially when you are the newbie is just less than good. Bear in mind, I like Eijn, but he ran with that one and got egg on his face. But then once he knew he was wrong, he did the right thing.

  16. R

    I'd agree with you for some 15-year olds and disagree with you on other 15-year olds XD I agree that, even without knowing about Chris's history, Eijun actually was really rude. I'm not surprised by that fact though because this is the kid who is hot-headed and has a serious case of tunnel-vision in a lot of cases. And I wouldn't trust him to be subtle if his life depended on it. So it didn't surprise me that he ended up butting heads with Chris and being….well and idiot (personally I pen that down as a stupidly endearing trait sometimes)

    I think what's more important here is seeing what he does from now on. He's not very good at baseball, he jumps on the gun on a lot of things and he's got a lot to learn. If he can start realizing his own faults (not just this one time) and working to fix them, that's a great character arc and one of the things I love best in any series.

  17. Z

    "I'm used to it by now but that doesn't make it any less disappointing to me, yet it's an inescapable fact – sports anime just don't much interest Westerners."

    And that is a problem how? Sports anime isn't the be all and end all of life.

  18. K

    Well it is disappointing to me because it means series I enjoy have little or no chance to get over here.

    The worst is Chihayafuru a sports series and Josei. A double whammy of things that don't sell well in the US. lol

  19. R

    Personally, I'm always sad when a really good series just doesn't garner a lot of attention because of the fact that it's a genre that isn't popular in the west. I don't think Enzou ever said it was a problem, just disappointing. Which it is for me as well. When you like something, you try to get other people to at least take a look at it and maybe make some new fans and friends you can all gush over it about. I don't think that's a bad thing.

  20. Z

    Put it this way, I think most people who are into sports anime are already watching them. The information on the series airing each season is readily out there, so people are at least aware that they exist if they're interested. I watched Initial D a few years ago, and while I liked it I didn't love it. It didn't make me a sports anime fan. I'm watching Ace and Pedal this season mostly for the fact that I've not seen a baseball or cycling anime yet. They're pretty good/enjoyable, but again not likely to make me a die hard fan. I'm sure others have similar experiences.

    There's always the import option (expensive but you'll do it if you feel that passionately about something). I can't tell you how many series I'd love to see licensed but never will. It's tough but such is life.

  21. M

    Eijun was a jackass the moment he meet Chris-chwan, bitching about the pairing and everything. After that who would in their right mind feel obliged to tell that boorish fuck what's really down? And then arrogantly barging into his rehab training session to proclaim his idiocy, heavens! He can eat dicks for the rest of the season.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone on the field cares for Eijin. I guess they'll just start painting everyone else as a jerk to make him look better. Perks of being the main character.

  22. K

    I was the kid who hated gym and with the exception of the Winter Olympics every 4 years I don't care about watching sporting events and yet I have a thing for sports anime.

    But I guess if you had told me that when I was first getting into anime I wouldn't have believed you.

    I am not really sure why people in the US don't like sports anime. I know even people who *do* like sports aren't interested in imaginary sport stories so I think there is more to it than western anime fans aren't the gym type. I mean I know I said I was that type of person (and well I am also a woman) but I don't think it's that simple.

    Anyways sports anime just has a lot of the tropes I love: the friendship and teammate aspect but also the passion and striving to do your best aspect. I want to root the characters on because I care about them.

    That lack of caring about real players is why I think I can't get into real sports. I am not competitive and I don't really care if my city wins or loses. But with fictional teams I care because I care about those characters.

  23. t

    Oh sports anime can be popular on animesuki , the Ro-Kyu-Bu! threads have got 1500 posts combined 😉

    ishruns referred to it as moesuki which I find appropriate and I do think that animesuki doesn't represent all of the western fanbase, DnA isn't popular by any measure I have in the west but KnB is ranked the 187th most popular on MAL while Ro-Kyu-Bu! is ranked 942th most popular, so looking at the post counts on animesuki would be misleading.

  24. I'm not sure how MAL generates that popularity stat – is it based on the numerical ranking? But if you look at post counts in the forum it's pretty minuscule there, too, compared to most of this season's shows.

  25. S

    Nice to be one of the lucky few sport & anime lovers, ey? If an ice hockey anime came out with this (or GeK(!)) quality came out, I'd DIE! Jesus tittyfucking christ.

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