Weekly Digest 8/31/14 – Diamond no Ace, Haikyuu!!

Diamond no Ace - 46 -4 Diamond no Ace - 46 -14 Haikyuu - 22 -16 Haikyuu - 22 -20

Ace of Diamond has definitely found its big bad – and he’s a dumpy little blonde kid.

Diamond no Ace – 46

Diamond no Ace - 46 -1 Diamond no Ace - 46 -2 Diamond no Ace - 46 -3
Diamond no Ace - 46 -5 Diamond no Ace - 46 -6 Diamond no Ace - 46 -7
Diamond no Ace - 46 -8 Diamond no Ace - 46 -9 Diamond no Ace - 46 -10
Diamond no Ace - 46 -11 Diamond no Ace - 46 -12 Diamond no Ace - 46 -13
Diamond no Ace - 46 -15 Diamond no Ace - 46 -16 Diamond no Ace - 46 -17
Diamond no Ace - 46 -18 Diamond no Ace - 46 -19 Diamond no Ace - 46 -20

This whole matchup between Ichidai and Sakurazawa had the air of an execution about it from the start, but it was still a little startling how quickly and how horrendously things went south for the underdogs.  But Daiya no A does have a history of mercilessly dispatching opposition teams once their service to the plot is done, and Sakurazawa is shown the door without much fanfare or moderation.

I suppose the question now is just how Seidou is going to go about getting to Mei, who seems pretty close to unhittable at this point.  It’s not unrealistic to say that a truly dominant pitcher like that can really ramp up the pressure on an opponent the way Mei did to Sakurazawa here.  It’s true – knowing that even one run is probably going to be fatal makes every play crucial, and these public schoolers are kids with no experience handling this sort of intense pressure-cooker.  It’s a shame the downfall started with a pair of errors, but quite believable and in truth, it was only a matter of time anyway.

We also saw a couple of the inherent weaknesses of the knuckle-ball exposes here.  It’s incredibly easy to steal against a knuckle-baller – the pitch takes forever to get to the plate and is hard to catch cleanly.  And it’s not like a knuckle-baller can reach back for another gear in key situations, trying for the key strikeout – not even he knows what the pitch will do, and the more amped up he gets the less movement he gets on the ball.  And once the knuckler starts to spin, it’s like placing the ball on a tee.

We’re going to flashback city next week – Mei and Miyuki as little-leaguers, it looks like – but soon enough we’ll be staring at the matchup the entire series has been building towards.  Will Furuya return to start, or will it be Tanba again?   I’m sure Seidou would have appreciated it if Sakurazawa had at least made Ichidai play a full game, but Mei should be alarmingly fresh – he only had to throw five innings.

Haikyuu!! – 22

Haikyuu - 22 -1 Haikyuu - 22 -2 Haikyuu - 22 -3
Haikyuu - 22 -4 Haikyuu - 22 -5 Haikyuu - 22 -6
Haikyuu - 22 -7 Haikyuu - 22 -8 Haikyuu - 22 -9
Haikyuu - 22 -10 Haikyuu - 22 -11 Haikyuu - 22 -12
Haikyuu - 22 -13 Haikyuu - 22 -14 Haikyuu - 22 -15
Haikyuu - 22 -17 Haikyuu - 22 -18 Haikyuu - 22 -19
Haikyuu - 22 -21 Haikyuu - 22 -22 Haikyuu - 22 -23
Haikyuu - 22 -24 Haikyuu - 22 -25 Haikyuu - 22 -26

It’s funny, but with all the redonkulous facial expressions Haikyuu has thrown at us in 22 episodes, I think my favorite was the tiny smile Tsukishima flashed after he executed that impudent dink over the wall for the first time.  You could barely tell it was there, but that’s why it was so striking I think – Tsukishima hasn’t made that much of an impression on me before, but this was by far his best week.  I feel like I’m understanding him a bit for the first time – that he’s more than just the snarky putz he plays at (though he certainly is that) but a clever and stubborn kid who takes a sort of pride in doing things differently than everybody else.  In terms of sports, I think you could say Tsuki-chan has an artistic temperament.

Of course, the key question here is whether Kageyama can come to understand him.  That’s certainly where Sugawara’s formidable strengths as a teacher can come into play, but the reality is that Kageyama is a guy who has trouble dealing with pretty much everybody, and Tsukishima is the one guy in the world who most pisses him off.  The truth is both these guys are basically arrogant jerks (though not bad people, so don’t get testy) and naturally rub each other the wrong way.  And for a setter, that’s not an acceptable status quo.

I’m a bit torn about the episode as a whole, entirely because of the flashback. In itself it was fine, but the first half of the episode was cracking stuff – absolutely fantastic game action with a lot of tension and wisely allocated humor (like Kageyama utterly failing at compliments and high-fives).  Learning about Oikawa and seeing chibi-Kageyama (is it me, or did he seem much less angry at the world back then?) is a good thing, but I hated to have the rhythm of the episode broken that way.  Either that flashback should have been placed at a different time, or it should have been considerably shorter.

Be that as it may, it was still a strong episode and the Aoba Johsai match is probably the most interesting one of the series so far.  I’m not sure I’m ready to believe that the Karasuno victory I’m almost certain we’re going to see is realistic, given the difference in experience and stature between these teams, but Haikyuu does a very good job (with a few exceptions) of making the individual moments on the court seem realistic even if the end result isn’t.  That makes unlikely victories a little easier to swallow, and it’s certainly a bonus that the rise is as enjoyable as it usually is.

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10 comments

  1. e

    Nooo knuckleball guy don't cry T_T . That was brutal.
    Now, it's pretty hard to predict if Seidou will eventually succeed. By the law of shonen will the first years – plus Miyuki – get their chance next year and avenge the already defeated seniors we know after a burning devastating defeat vs the seniors + the interesting characters avenging the previous losses and breaking the 6-years long streak? I have a feeling we're going the first scenario route honestly. But I'd love for the opposite to happen, really.
    Little Miyuki flashback next week? Bring it on 83.
    —-
    Hmmm… it does seem like Kageyama grinched up after Oikawa left and hence since he became the team's official setter. Time to degrinch a bit at last. 'Mr. Refreshing''s presence has been a good catalyst indeed – go Suga sweetie go :,) – . And more of his commentary please if anything ) for both him and his team mates.
    I wonder if Tsukishima's green-haired freckled friend and his float serve will make their debut before the end of this game btw.
    P.S.: dat Zidane headbutt.

  2. A

    I have to agree about the flashback in Haikyuu. Through the entire first half of the episode, closer and closer to the set point, violins and pianos on the background and of course, all I could even think of was "oh shit… oh shit.. oh shit…". Great stuff. Like any absurdly high stakes match should feel.

    That flashback seriously ruined that moment for me. It belonged to the beginning of the episode, not right in the middle of it.

  3. N

    There were two occasions in Haikyuu!! this week where the speaking animation sequence was off, very uncharacteristic.

  4. A couple of off-model character moments, too. I guess even Haikyuu is going to have the occasional off week.

  5. R

    I'm with you Enzo — as much as I wanted Karasuno to win, I think that would be a little out-of-character for Haikyuu. In fact, I don't know what I really want. On the one hand, I want Haikyuu to keep its realistic and authentic narrative. On the other hand, my heart will be broken to see that will be the end for Daichi, Suga and Asahi. God, that will be another tear-jerking moment for me for sure…can't wait for next week to come.

  6. c

    Funny — I thought the humor, while amusing, was lumpily paced while the Oikawa flashback the best part… No disagreements re:Tsukishima and Kageyama's developing team camaraderie. Def. fantastic.

  7. J

    Is there some rule in the industry that says if there's an insufferable scrappy kid character that's supposed to have the ability/potential of destiny or the King or whatever that he absolutely without contest must be voiced by Yuki Kaji. I swear I think there is. It's really hard not to just associate that guys voice with characters that seem to be put there specifically to annoy the viewers and make them question how they're supposed to be what they're stated as (I think it's the effeminate inflection that really just makes me cringe sometimes though it's not quite as bad with Mei as it's been in some of his past "pathetic guy" roles it's still very much there) and make them wish for their immediate exit that we all know deep down in our hearts is never going to come. Speaking strictly of Daiya no Ace and sports anime it's pretty much the destiny of the protagonists to lose their first on screen encounter against their fate rival in these as a part of the growth process after all.

    Speaking of Kaji again, I wonder what it'd be like being the guy outside of a Fujoshi circle touring Anime Expo some year or something. I imagine it'd be much like what it's like to be Jack Gleeson going outside in public these days.

  8. R

    I'm not nearly as huge a baseball fan as you Enzou, so I'm going to take what you say about the knuckleball at face value. It does remind me of a lot of other types of hits in different sports (Haikyuu has covered the float serve, which is similarly a ball with very little rotation), and there's a similar concept in soccer (the name escapes me but I remember someone showing me a video about a kick with little to no rotation as well), so I at least understand the concept.

    But those examples always seemed sort of "gimmicky" (for lack of a better word) to me, so I have a hard time believing that you could really carry a whole game with them. They'd be great for changing the pace or taking opponents by surprise, but they don't seem very reliable in the long term. Then again, like I said, not an expert in the least XD

  9. There are pitchers in the Hall of Fame who threw 90%+ knuckleballs. R.J. Dickey has been one of the better pitchers in the game over the last 5 years doing the same. it is a "gimmick", but a very effective one – it's just very, very hard to master.

  10. g

    In volleyball it's the same. It's good if at last one player specializes in a float serve, many times s/he's a pinch server. Not everybody can learn it. And you can take many points using it because it seems the body/eyes can't get used to no matter what. At best will be an insta ace service and at worst it'll crumble an opponents' formation.

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