Diamond no Ace – 26

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Yep, things have finally gotten serious.

OP2: Perfect Hero” by Tom-H@ck featuring Masayoshi Ooishi

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Not to be lost in the cavalcade of premieres today, Diamond no Ace leads off its third inning with a new OP and ED, and remains a refreshingly realistic take on anime baseball.  And as it appeared last week, in Akikawa we finally have an opponent strong enough to give Seidou reason to worry, which takes us to the point where the series can focus on something more than players jostling for position on the team.

As a baseball fan this is definitely an intriguing matchup for me.  Not only are we looking at two pitchers whose styles are completely opposite, but two teams who couldn’t be more different.  Akikawa is clearly punching above its class here – if it weren’t for Yeung they would be no different than the cannon fodder Seidou pulped in the minimum five innings of their first two games.  Their coach – while an interesting and clever fellow – is obviously star-struck himself, and seems to have trouble grasping the notion that his boys are hanging with Seidou (a bad sign, to be sure).

Indeed, it seems that in addition to his pitching prowess Yeung is also the only batter in the Akikawa lineup capable of doing real damage to Furuya.  Ogata’s wait-em-out strategy to run up Furuya’s pitch count is a smart one, but it was always likely to have its limits.  It’s clear from the moment he steps into the box that Yeung is up there to do more than watch, and he and Miyuki immediately launch into a verbal sparring match.  I wasn’t keen on Miyuki’s “Great Japanese!” comment – it smacks of racism to me.  Yeung’s response is what it should be, though – rather than taking the bait he starts talking to himself in Mandarin and promptly deposits Furuya’s second pitch – a splitter – into left-field for a single.  And because of the aggressive play of the left fielder (a tactical if not statistical error in the first inning) it’s misplayed into a double, allowing the second runner to score.

On the mound, we can clearly see just what sort of pitcher Yeung is.  What we see happening with the umpire here is completely realistic – when pitchers consistently hit the mitt, umpires expand their strike zone (Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine feasted for years on the wide outside corner they consistently got due to their reputation and pinpoint control).  This is clearly a well-prepared team – they’ve researched, they can field beautifully, and their pitcher is a cerebral tactician.  But as with their offensive strategy there are limits to how far this can take them, and it’s clear they haven’t faced a team like Seidou before – even Yeung is surprised by what they’re able to do with pitches he’s previously used to toy with lesser hitters.

We have a heavyweight vs. a middleweight here, and there’s a reason boxing doesn’t let middleweights fight heavyweights.  Sooner or later superior talent is going to win out here and Seidou will assert their dominance (indeed, the most significant moment of the ep may be when we’re introduced to the seeming next opponent), but it’s fun to root for Akikawa in the meantime (sorry, I know that’s not what I’m supposed to do) and the real question is, which pitcher will be on the mound for Seidou when it happens?  Furuya settles down admirably after Yeung dings him, but he’s still Furuya, and this is still August in Tokyo.  How long will he last (24 pitches in the first inning isn’t catastrophic, but it’s not ideal) and will it be Kawakami or Eijun who gets the first call from Kataoka?  Sooner or later Eijun is going to get a chance in this game – the lefty-lefty matchups and simple narrative requirements demand it – and I find myself hoping it happens sooner rather than later, as neither Furuya or Kawakami interest me all that much as characters.  There are definitely moments when Eijun needs to just STFU, but I find his relentless honesty and emotional openness much more appealing.

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ED3: “Mirai e Tsunage” by DOOP

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  1. m

    Not to be racist but Ishikawa Kaito's Mandarin pronounciation is surprisingly good! Honestly after the number of anime with butchered Mandarin *looks at Senkou no Night Raid* its great to actually be able to make out what is actually being said.

  2. My Mandarin isn't good enough to have picked that up, but I know that generally speaking Mandarin is very hard for Japanese to pronounce and vice-versa – the voicing and accent could hardly be more different.

  3. R

    I'd have to disagree on Senkou no Night Raid. While the main characters' Mandarin and German are really bad (Japanese voice actors, so understandable) the minor characters have perfect pronunciation, since they actually hired native speakers in order to make it sound authentic. It kinda makes sense too, since none of the main characters are Chinese, so they wouldn't be able to speak it perfectly while the natives should.

    Sorry, random nitpick. I remember being blown away by the accuracy of theandarin (from the mob crowd albeit) because it was so accurate, which you almost never see in anime.

    That aside, I never considered Miyuki's comment that way. Maybe because there's a log of transfer students at my college with not so good English. It felt like a compliment to me, the kind I would have thought if one of those transfer students had really good English at my school. Sort of a "wow, your English is really good". I dunno, I always think it's a compliment when a native speaker compliments me on my Japaese when they no I'm not Japanese.

  4. C

    I want to see more action from Eijun. Not going to put any spoilers here from the manga, but I'm not really a fan of Furuya. I know he's a good guy but he's not likable enough. Eijun is the reason I'm watching this series and I'm getting impatient with not seeing him get some action.

  5. j

    It's pretty obvious Sawamura is going to pitch next based on the lead up to the game.
    More importantly though, Shun is looking to not only tire out Furuya, but score another run to mentally shut down the team. We all know Sawamura couldn't care less

  6. j

    Also, I love how stoic and pragmatic Shun is, taking all aspects of the game into consideration. Really liked the fact that he just blocked Miyuki's BS out of his head.

  7. y

    You don't have to apologise for rooting for the under-dog. I just hope Yeung gives them a run for their money, and that we finally get shown what Furuya's thought process is. I don't remember the last time we heard his thoughts.

  8. m

    Does the Maddox/Glavine reference mark you as a Braves fan? Yeah the subjectivity of umpire calls is just another of the endless list of things that makes baseball the greatest sport ever. Everything about baseball is filled with subtlety and strategy that many don't recognize, and when it's handled properly it makes for the best sports anime. As much as I dislike Kevin Costner movies (with a few exceptions) his baseball movies have been great. For the Love of the Game might have been a romance, but there hasn't been another movie (or show/manga or anything else for that matter) that truly captures what it feels like to be out on the mound. If you haven't seen it before I'd highly recommend it, and Bull Durham too. Even take Field of Dreams for example. I don't think that movie/book could have worked with any other sport, only baseball was able to provide the perfect venue for all that story had to offer.

  9. No, not a Braves fan (if anything that comment could have stamped me as someone with sour grapes against them…). But if you watched a lot of baseball when those two were pitching, you know that the plate grew about three inches when they were on the mound. Glavine's outside corner, especially, was notorious.

  10. m

    Haha yeah I hear you. As a Phils fan I watched those two decimate my team year in and year out. My friend's dad was an umpire (Eric Gregg) who called the 1997 NLCS which is known as one of the 3 worst called games of the modern baseball era. He let Livan Hernandez get away with murder on the mound against the Braves. In case you were wondering the answer to why he was so bad out there was a hangover, terribly unprofessional especially given the situation, but against the Braves I find I don't really care as much as I should.
    I hate the Braves, but could never bring myself to hate Maddox. There's something so perfect about the way he pitched, and he and Glavine are likely to be numbers 3 and 2 respectively on the list of the last MLB pitchers to ever get 300 career wins. Which at 24 member is les than the 500 homerun club (25) which should keep growing. With the way the game is now though I doubt anyone will ever reach 300 wins ever again, and the braves had 2 of the members on the same team for years!

  11. I remember that game well, and I remember that Eric Gregg was one of the worst umpires in baseball history. Consistently awful with balls & strikes and everything else.

  12. m

    Haha yeah he has a reputation for being awful. Though I'd never say that to my friend since his dad is dead. I never met him since Jamie and I became friends after his Dad passed. He was one of the first African American Umpires in MLB history though, which is a praiseworthy accomplishment in and of itself.

  13. m

    His brother works for the Red Sox organization, and has all these picks with Ortiz and other players. I HATE the sox more than any other team ever, but talk about the best job ever.

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