Weekly Digest 8/10/14 – Diamond no Ace, Haikyuu!!

Diamond no Ace - 43 -8 Diamond no Ace - 43 -21 Haikyuu - 19 -7 Haikyuu - 19 -20

Those were the best dumps I’ve seen in ages.

Diamond no Ace – 43

Diamond no Ace - 43 -1 Diamond no Ace - 43 -2 Diamond no Ace - 43 -3
Diamond no Ace - 43 -4 Diamond no Ace - 43 -5 Diamond no Ace - 43 -6
Diamond no Ace - 43 -7 Diamond no Ace - 43 -9 Diamond no Ace - 43 -10
Diamond no Ace - 43 -11 Diamond no Ace - 43 -12 Diamond no Ace - 43 -13
Diamond no Ace - 43 -14 Diamond no Ace - 43 -15 Diamond no Ace - 43 -16
Diamond no Ace - 43 -17 Diamond no Ace - 43 -18 Diamond no Ace - 43 -19
Diamond no Ace - 43 -20 Diamond no Ace - 43 -22 Diamond no Ace - 43 -23
Diamond no Ace - 43 -24 Diamond no Ace - 43 -25 Diamond no Ace - 43 -26
Diamond no Ace - 43 -27 Diamond no Ace - 43 -28 Diamond no Ace - 43 -29

It’s no surprise at all that this was the best episode of Diamond no Ace we’ve seen for several weeks.  Like any ensemble series it’s better when it focuses on its best characters, but more than most the gap between its stronger and weaker characters is a wide one.  Give me 22 minutes focused mostly on Eijun and Haruichi and it’s a pretty good bet you’re going to have a winner.

This is the kind of material Daiya excels at – tense, mostly realistic action with a focus on the mental side of the game.  Ugai hasn’t gotten a ton of development but he’s kind of an interesting guy, as all the opposing coaches have been – he’s no fool, that’s for sure, even if he’s a bit too old-school in some respects.  He’s committed to the idea of walking Miyuki whenever he bats in a key situation, and it’s a sound notion – with the added benefit of firing up Maki that much more.  It works once and looks on the verge of working again until Kataoka plays his trump card – he pinch-hits for Tanba with the bases loaded and two outs, giving Haruchin his chance to shine.  “Just hit the ball back” – the simple thoughts of a first-year and a natural hitter, and exactly what Kataoka needed to hear to be confident in his “lucky boy”.

As a general rule of thumb any time the character with slitted eyes opens them, it’s a big moment – and you can tell how seriously Haruichi is taking this one.  One of the great joys about baseball is that a tiny wisp of a boy like Haruchin can succeed against a monster like Maki, but the truth is he seems a bit overmatched by Maki’s fastball.  Ugai seems confident, and for good reason – but one of the trusted maxims of baseball is you when you have a hitter overpowered you never speed up his bat by throwing a breaking ball.  Much to Ugai’s dismay Maki throws a curve ahead in the count 1-2 – presumably wanting to make a statement with the strikeout – and Haruichi slaps it over the drawn-in left fielder’s head for a bases-clearing double.  Eijun can now enter the game with a 4-1 lead.

There’s no question Haruichi is a special player, and his adorably bashful fist-pump may be my favorite signature move in the series – the only question, really, is whether he’s too good to be in a pinch-hitter’s role.  For now, though, it’s Eijun’s turn to shine, and even with a three-run lead there’s a lot of pressure here.  This is a battle for redemption, first of all, and he’s also realized that Wakaba and his middle-school pals are somewhere in the stands.  And of course, being full of martial spirit as he is Eijun walks the first hitter – but the reason I love him as a character is his “Oh, my God – what have I done!  Walking the leadoff hitter is the worst thing I could do!” reaction.  Of course it’s true, when your team has just scored and you have a three-run lead it is the worst thing you can do – but Eijun is a player, not a fan, and he actually shouts it out loud.  Never an unexpressed thought.

This is a big moment in Eijun’s pitching career, no doubt, especially after a shrewd hit and run and a lucky bloop single complicate matters considerably – and Miyuki points this out with his usual bluntness.   But Eijun refuses Miyuki’s attempt for a conference on the mound, and Kataoka sends Haruichi out with a message to break the tension – “make sure Masuko’s hat doesn’t come off or we’ll have trouble concentrating”.  You have to think Eijun has what it takes to get through this, and not just plot armor either – no one has hit a ball hard yet and his fighting spirit is his greatest strength (for the moment).  The batter is Maki, who’s also out for redemption, and both the game and Kataoka’s confidence in Eijun are riding on what happens next.

Haikyuu!! – 19

Haikyuu - 19 -1 Haikyuu - 19 -2 Haikyuu - 19 -3
Haikyuu - 19 -4 Haikyuu - 19 -5 Haikyuu - 19 -6
Haikyuu - 19 -8 Haikyuu - 19 -9 Haikyuu - 19 -10
Haikyuu - 19 -11 Haikyuu - 19 -12 Haikyuu - 19 -13
Haikyuu - 19 -14 Haikyuu - 19 -15 Haikyuu - 19 -16
Haikyuu - 19 -17 Haikyuu - 19 -18 Haikyuu - 19 -19
Haikyuu - 19 -21 Haikyuu - 19 -22 Haikyuu - 19 -23

I can’t be the only one who thinks of the Grinch every time the camera lingers on Kageyama’s scowling face, can I?  The resemblance is uncanny, to the point where I think the mangaka must be a huge Dr. Seuss fan.  It’s about time someone (Hinata) pointed out that his face is gonna freeze like that if he’s not careful.

This was pretty much your classic “night before the big game” episode complete with team meetings and kids lying in bed sleepless, consumed with thoughts of the day to come.  But Oikawa Tooru’s presence definitely spices things up quite a bit.  Namikawa Daisuke is clearly having a lot of fun with this part, from vamping for the TV cameras to trolling his own teammates.  He’s an interesting dude, and clearly an interesting player, somebody who plays head games with friend and foe alike and has the game to back it up.

With that in mind, it sort of feels as if Kageyama is playing into Oikawa’s hands – letting this turn into far too much of a personal battle.  That comes into evidence in the first few points of the match – on the very first, Oikawa executes a flawless setter dump (in truth, a setter spike) and puckishly warns Karasuno that he’ll be doing it again, so they better not sleep on it.  Kageyama then turns around and throws a dismissive lefty flick of his own over the net the first chance he gets, with an identical postscript.  It’s easy to understand why Kageyama would be so jacked for this personal challenge, but a one-on-one fight against someone with Oikawa’s combination of skill and experience can’t be good for Karasuno – and if it does turn out well, that would stretch the series’ credibility quite a bit.

No, I rather think this is going to be a team effort – and that might even include the unlikely Yamaguchi-kun, as there’s foreshadowing that his newly-learned jump floater may have an impact before the match is done.  And with Oikawa involved it’s surely going to involve Karasuno getting some TV exposure at last, above and beyond Hinata and Nishinoya being called grade-schoolers by the unit director scolding them for being too loud.



  1. Wow, so many big spoilers in one comment. Pretty much sucks the life out of the rest of the Aoba Johsai match…

  2. B

    Dang it… sorry,

  3. H

    You know, I've been lurking here a few months, and I don't think I've seen anyone actually apologise to Enzo for giving out spoilers. My guess is that you tried to be general, but probably leaked out a crucial detail or two (or maybe more) that made him put two and two together.

    Enzo, at least acknowledge the apology like the gentleman you are. XD

    Onto the relevant topics:
    Diamond of Ace was brilliant. Three cheers for an extension! (Yes, I'm late to the party- my bad). I'm mildly worried about Haikyuu's pacing, but I have good faith in the production team- the adaptation has been very good do far.

  4. g

    Well, I'm little worried too. I've checked the manga's earlier chapters again and they'll probably end at the chapter 69 or at 70 – if they want to elegantly wrap everything, so with the 6 remaining episodes it means 3+ chapters per episode. It's not impossible but chapters are quite packed, so it seems they will cut some corners. I've always thought that they should cut some things form first introduction chapters because the further into the woods, the more content in the chapters. Well, it's over and done so nothing can be different now.

  5. It's water under the bridge and an apology is nice, but that doesn't get me back the enjoyment I would have had seeing what was going to happen not knowing it was coming.

  6. g

    Oh wow, it suck you were spoilered… I hope at last an execution will recompensate it for you…
    Oikawa Tooru is indeed an interesting player, mixture of a real effort & hard work, charisma but some childishness, jealousy and even some pettiness too. His dynamic with Iwazumi is important too. I only tell the secret that the Grand King shares a birthday with Alexander the Great and Iwazumi's birthday is the date of Alexander's death and that's their relationship. 😉

  7. g

    And oh, yeah… Harucchi… If he's showing an eye to you, then damn! You're in trouble, boy!
    I love his adorable shy fist pump. So cute!

  8. e

    Spoilers avoided *cheers* .

    Now… no kidding as soon as I spotted dem open eyes among the screenshots I had to watch the episode asap. Luck boy go go! And on top of that there was a healthy dose of no-filter flaming spirit Eijun antics (oh lively dork <3 ). And Wakana close-ups. And mr. Cheshire Catcher goodness. A cliffhanger with a troublesome game phase. Great episode 8D.

  9. K

    I am glad I missed the spoilers but I do think it was big of the person to apologize.

  10. m

    Haha what ridiculous world is this where apologizing when you do something thoughtless is considered "big". How little does it take to be a "big" person on the internet where you just have to say my bad.

  11. m

    DnA has this weird way of being extremely realistic even though it has such unrealistic elements. I've said it before, but it really does an amazing job of showing what it's like to be on a competitive baseball team. I can't speak for Japan obviously, but it does give more of the feel you get during college: players of such varying skill levels with some thinking of going pro and others knowing they never will. I also don't know a lot about Japanese pitching, other than they throw a lot of breaking pitches and lack the ones that are necessary for MLB success (Except Tanaka 12-4 2.51 ERA 1.005 WHIP 9.4K/9 7.11K/BB and potential ROY/CY combo). I know that no pitcher anywhere would ever be allowed to throw a ball while holding it differently each time. That's crazy, and it almost seems like his pitch more closely resembles a knuckleball (lacking speed but unpredictable movement) but that and the other unrealistic parts are so minor. Most of it is like Haikyuu in that it's just animated to seem unrealistic, but that's just to make it look cooler not bc it's unreal. Unfortunately that does lead to a big variance in how entertaining the show is based on who is actually the main focus. While almost all of the characters have their own interesting points, there are some who are far more interesting than others. I really can't bring myself to care at all about bald pitcher (even to the point of forgetting his name) and I really find him rather annoying. He has that air of superiority you see often in baseball and he certainly doesn't deserve it.

  12. There are actually a dozen Japanese pitchers in MLB right now, and more in the minors. Tanaka would have been a lock for ROY and had a shot at the Cy Young if he hadn't gotten hurt, and Darvish (half-Iranian born in Japan) might have the best stuff in baseball. Plenty of Japanese pitchers throw 90+ and have bib-league caliber offspeed pitches.

  13. m

    Darvish is also an exception, and none of the other Japanese Pitchers have made a significant name for themselves. Uehara has been ok but he's old and won't ever have a significant MLB career, Kuroda has been good but he has the same age problem, Tazawa is younger but is a set up man, I'll give you Iwakuma but he's older too, Fujikawa is relief, Wada old, and I can't say there's no others I haven't heard of but Japanese pitchers don't have a great history in MLB. I understand you like Japanese baseball (and all things Japan) and there's nothing wrong with that, but can you honestly name enough legitimate pitching stars in MLB history from Japan to disprove my point that it's extremely rare for a Japanese pitcher to find success in MLB? Or that pitching in Japan isn't different from pitching in the U.S./Major Latin baseball countries?

    Yeah Tanaka going down makes me want to cry. Especially since it's a Tommy John surgery injury. I know they're trying to rehab him back so he doesn't miss the year and a half from the TJ surgery, but I don't think the 6 week min I've heard suggested will be realistic. I still think he wins ROY even with the injury. He's pitched enough games to be eligible I believe, and his stats were top 5 in the AL when he went down.

  14. Nomo?

    Dice-K could have had a pretty big career if he hadn't gotten hurt, and he did have a couple of big years before he did. Iwakuma has a 2.85 ERA in 400+ big league innings and he's not going anywhere soon – 33 is not ancient for a guy with his pitchability, command and guile. And Kenta Maeda looks like he has a chance to make a pretty big splash next season when he's posted.

  15. m

    Yeah Iwakuma is impressive. He's old so I'm not sure if he will play long enough to be remembered, but he is a great pitcher. He can potentially get another 7-8 years with a Jamie Moyer like stretch, but that might not be enough since he didn't come in young enough. Like how if Ichiro started in MLB he would have smashed Pete Rose's hit record….in Derek Jeter's playing length. He's close to 3000 and he's only played 13-14 years. I think everyone else on that list is at 18-22 years in the majors.

    I can't say anything about Maeda because I haven't heard or seen anything. I'll take your word on him and check him out. Dice-K I'm not sure how much that injury hurt him, but I know he posted that under 3 era in his 2nd year, and then never went under 4 again until this year. It's difficult to say if he was going to be in his first, second, or third year form for his career. Nomo is a similar stat guy. About 12 years of MLB experience means he was better than the average pitcher for a long stretch, but a career 4.24 ERA means he was never close to elite. It's like the Japanese Major Leagues, they aren't as skilled as MLB competition wise, but they are better than triple-a and the rest of the minor leagues. You couldn't place all of Japans players in MLB, but they should have a reasonable amount of superstars.

    Oh yeah Kaz Sasaki the CP is actually pretty good if I forgot to mention him. He throws hard.

  16. l

    I follow both manga so I won't comment much unless there is a need to.

    In case, Enzo, you have missed it, a few chapters of scanlated Mix have recently come out for you to cover. It is classic Adachi setup. 😉 That said, it's still a few chapters behind the monthly release which I'm up-to-date with.

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