Diamond no Ace – 20

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Now the real drama begins.

As soon as I saw this week’s episode title (“Emergency”) this was one of the possibilities I considered that it might refer to.  Ultimately this is the story of the duel between Eijun and Furuya for the ace number, and while the third-years have been admirably represented in the drama, it can’t really be a story about those two years watching from the bench as Tanba tries to establish himself as a true ace.  That’s a good series, but it’s not Ace of Diamond.

Make no mistake, though, even if it was doing so in order to tear him down, Tanba was definitely built up.  I wouldn’t exactly call him sympathetic, but he was certainly relatable – a guy with good but not great talent who could never quite overcome his own lack of confidence.  It’s the nature of this sort of series that he should be struck down just as he seemed on the verge of doing so, but that’s exactly what that errant (I’ll assume that’s what it was, though we were conspicuously shown the Shuhoku pitcher thinking nasty thoughts before he threw it) fastball did.  I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Tanba as a pitcher, but his role for now is likely to provide the team with inspiration to keep their season going long enough to make him relevant again as a player.

The team is naturally devastated in the wake of the injury, a broken jaw (wonky CR translation of “chin” notwithstanding) – but life, as in baseball, must go on.  The third-years have been treating this as their personal crusade, but now it’s time for them to step up and be leaders – and that means leading the youngsters who are now their only chance of making it to Koushien.  Tanba is given the ace number in absentia by Kataoka – surely the right thing to do in terms of morale – but Kawakami is now the de facto ace.  So far I’ve seen nothing in him to indicate he’s up to the challenge either in terms of raw stuff or mental makeup, but there’s no more time for him to grow into the role – it’s now or never, and he has two more talented kids queuing up behind him.

The race is on, now, to get those kids ready in time for Koushien prelims (in this series, prelims are pretty much the main event now) because at heart I think everyone knows they’re the only ones who can carry the team until Tanba comes back.  They’re more talented than Kawakami and sometimes athletes can be so young and clueless that they don’t know enough to be scared when the big moment comes – a phase that’s already passed Kawakami by.  Kataoka sends Yuki and Isashiki into the bullpen to practice as pitchers, but rather than seriously considering them as options this seems to serve two purposes – to light a fire under the three younger pitchers, and to get the two of them out of their silent funk and acting as the leaders they’re supposed to be.  I’ll be surprised if either guy throws a pitch in anger when it really counts.

What does prepping the peachfuzz brigade boil down to?  In Chris’ hands, as usual there isn’t much pitching to begin with.  It’s strength training, ball-handling training, fielding drills – and hitting the books, because failing finals means re-taking them and missing practice.  It seems almost quaint to see important student-athletes portrayed as actually having to pass their courses in order to play, but this still seems to be somewhat more common in Japan than in America.  It also keeps the two of them from having to think too much about the reality of the situation – that they might be asked to shot down a strong opponent in order to get their team to Koushien.  One day at a time.

The interesting question for me is this: assuming Kawakami really isn’t up to the challenge, which one of the diaper dandies is most likely to succeed under fire?  Superficially it would seem to be Furuya – if nothing else he can rear back and throw as hard as he can, and that’s damn hard.  But Eijun has an “X” factor that Furuya doesn’t – he (like one tireless terrier on a borrowed racing bike) is unpredictable.  Not even he knows what his pitches are going to do, and he seems to have a somewhat more developed competitive toughness and better stamina.  Furuya certainly needs to learn to throw a breaking pitch (perhaps the split-finger) with consistency, and Eijun needs to be able to locate his pitches wherever Miyuki asks for them.  If either one of them manages to develop that much, they stand to be the best pitching option for Seidou once the real games start.

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6 comments

  1. e

    I might have been distracted by Chris' voice – so many lines for him this week *_* – but I'm a bit fuzzy on the utility of the 'throwing cards to the ground' training bit. What's that supposed to develop?

    It seems it's gonna be Kawakami time to shine until Tanba recovers. We haven't seen much of him but he's supposed to be more experienced/trained than Furu and Eijun at least. I'm expecting Furuya to debut first but Eijun might gain more space as the team and games go on (partly because of the X factor and partly because Furu's stamina is pretty low. The closer to Summer they are playing the more he might suffer pitching in the heat… I think),

  2. j

    cards are light, and have lots of wind resistance, so I'm thinking it's kinda hard to be able to throw a card at that speed into the ground?

  3. m

    Haha I've never heard of that used as training. Is that some weird manga/anime "our coach is an outside the box thinker" kind of exercise? Or did I just never come across this in little league/middle school/high school/college/mens league baseball? It reminds me of The Mighty Ducks learning to have touch by passing eggs on the ice when you'd be far better off practicing touch passes with a puck.

  4. I never did that when I played ball in the States. I have heard of it, but I think it's more popular over here.

  5. t

    it was a fantastic episode.
    emphasizing Tanba as the real possible ace of the team with his attitude, following by his injury and all the mix of feelings of both first years and third years along side with how the team and even the coach deal with it. they executed it pretty much on the spot for me in all aspects.

    Tanba isn't the main character here. sure. but he is an integral part of the deal in Sediou high. he is on a much different level than Furuya and Eijun. the whole thing with the coach and Miyuki made that quite clear.
    probably he isn't the perfect ace. but among all pitchers and probably of Seidou players, he was the one most fits to job. it's not only because of technique (which is better polished than those two..well 3 years after all) but it's experience and other factors. the entire team see him as the ace and trust him… what he said about overcoming his weakness and all. even Miyuki agreed with him lol.
    I think it shows that Furuya and Eijun has still a long way. they can't fill Tanba's place so quickly and easily. not only in terms of polishing their styles, but also experience, endurance, mental strength and developing a team mental strength. an ace must carry his friends (that's why the coach put more on his 2 captains).
    it something you gain only with real playing. it can be through tough win or a painful lose. it's all about experience.

    DnA real deal starts now. it's not like 20 eps were a waste, not at all. but they laid out a solid foundation. they did it little by little, not in a hurry. and it worked. now that the Koushien prelims are near…it's going to be intense and full of feelings and sports…!

    p.s
    I really liked the rival coach saying that it's a shame. he still hopes to meet Seidou high with their full strength. I think it demonstrate what a real spirit of sportsmanship should be like. I believe Seidou feel like that too.

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