In the never-ending quest to try and survive Sundays, I thought I’d combine two sports shows this week, as they certainly make sense as a thematic pairing for a digest post. I definitely like Daiya no A enough that it should be getting its own post every week, but this might be a way to hang on to Haikyuu for now – and Daiya is often one of those shows that doesn’t lend itself well to a lot of verbiage. Call it an experiment.
If I were to nit-pick Diamond no Ace, one area where it comes up a little short for me is in the depth of the supporting cast on the Seidou side. There are several members of that team whom I don’t find especially interesting, and while that’s perfectly fine for a show where the focus in on the team and the role of “ace” as opposed to an individual player, when an episode focuses on one of those less interesting team members (like Tanba) for me the show suffers. Apart from Eijun, Haruichi, Miyuki and Chris (who isn’t even an active player) none of the rest of them stand out much. Compared to a show like Yowapeda or Ginga e Kickoff, there’s a significant gap.
In fact, I’ve often found the opponents in Ace of Diamond more interesting than Seidou (not in itself all that unusual for sports anime) and Yakushi is definitely an example. To be honest I’m unabashedly rooting for Yakushi to win this game, though I know from a narrative standpoint that’s a near-impossibility. Seeing Tanba or Furuya take center stage only points out how more more interesting Todoroki (-kun and -san both) and Sanada are than either of them. I know Tanba taking the mound and all the third-years being together at last is supposed to an emotional crescendo, but it’s really the first-years (and Miyuki) on this team that I care about.
In terms of the game itself, it’s interesting to see Tanba so badly missing his spots right out of the gate – not all that surprising given how much time he’s missed. He’s what you’d call “effectively wild” in striking out Sanada, though it takes Miyuki’s signature heroics to prevent a game-tying wild pitch. After Seidou adds two insurance runs off the fading Sanada Kataoka replaces Furuya in left field – certainly a valid move for defensive purposes, but that of course means Tanba is the last man standing as far as pitchers are concerned. He only needs three outs to and has a three-run cushion, but it’s a pretty risky move for Boss nonetheless. Fortunately for him I think he has plot armor on his side in this game…
Haikyuu!! – 15
It’s another sausga episode from Haikyuu, which delivers the mail every week pretty much without exception. It’s one of those sports shounen that’s shameless in a good way, batting its eyes and daring you not to like it. Which is pretty much impossible.
With the inter-high beginning at last (and presumably taking us up to the end of the first season) much of the humor this week is derived from comedy at Asahi’s expense. He’s pretty much the poster boy for Haikyuu’s persona – a loveable doofus with a heart of gold whose best friend calls him a “yowamushi” for his legendary collapse against Dateko. The joke with Asahi is the visual disconnect of course – he goes around earning merit badges and his actions are interpreted as classic banchou behavior, and everyone assumes he’s an old man who was too dumb to graduate high school with everyone else his age.
The arrival at inter-high is pretty much a show parade of all the thoroughbreds Karasuno has to worry about later – teams like Aoba Johsai (still loving Oikawa) and Dateko – but the first-round opponent is a sacrificial lamb, Tokonami, featuring Sawamura’s old middle school teammate. This doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a competitive match so much as an opportunity for Karasuno to show the world that the flightless raven has wings again. And who better to do that than Hinata, the most dismissed and derided figure on the team by those who don’t know any better?
The action is, as always, stellar – music, choreography, animation all top-notch – but I think the real excitement isn’t going to kick in until the second-round. In the meantime we also get the longest check-in yet with the girl’s team, where captain Mishimiya-san is trying to overcome her own lack of confidence and rally her troops to an unexpectedly strong finish. It’s nice to see her get some focus, but my gut tells me the girls are likely going out in the first round.