Diamond no Ace – 55

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That was certainly the most irritating episode of Daiya no A in quite some time.

When a three-minute recap at the beginning isn’t close to the most annoying thing in an episode, you know you’re in for a rough week (and let’s be honest, Ace of Diamond kind of specializes in those recaps).  There were a lot of things about this ep that rubbed me the wrong way, and at this point I’m more ready to move on than anything.  There’s not much in the way this game is going that’s working for me from a narrative standpoint.

Let’s start with the basics – it’s taking an awfully long time to get to the stuff that matters.  But that can be part and parcel of sports anime, so I won’t hold Diamond no Ace to a higher standard than the others.  The bigger problem is that Seidou at this point is staying afloat with a mixture of dumb luck and stupidity, and that’s not especially compelling.  The fact is that Inashiro looks like the better team, and they’re not doing anything (arrogance, dumb moves – apart from too many bunts – Hollywooding) that makes me especially want to root against them, or say they don’t deserve to win.  So what’s the motivation to root for Seidou, especially with the game in the hands of their charismatic as plywood third-years?

There are two main problems here, Ryou and Tanba.  In Ryou’s case, this is a syndrome we see pretty often both in real and manga sports – guys who put the team at risk by keeping their injuries a secret are made out to be heroes for doing so.  Ryou shouldn’t be in this game, and he shouldn’t have put it on Kuromochi’s (a 2nd year, remember) shoulders to make the call.  And Kataoka-san should have spotted Ryou’s obvious laboring and put an end to this.  So what happens?  Ryou gets incredibly lucky on a ball his brother would have made an easy play on, and Kuro bails him out.  Two runs are saved – two runs that likely would have put the game out of reach.  And I’m supposed to be happy to see that kind of thing rewarded?

The problem with Tanba is simple – he just isn’t very good.  He’s barely surviving – again mostly through dumb luck and poor managing by Inashiro.  It’s hard to root for characters who simply aren’t very good, especially when they’re third-years without any especially inspirational back-stories (or personality) behind them.  Again, it’s hard to get excited to root for a player and team surviving mostly by luck – Seidou is doing nothing to give the sense that they deserve to win this game.  Indeed, the most inspirational play came from the rookie Furuya, who bailed Tanba out (again, we see that theme) with a laser beam from left field which forced Masa to stop at third.

It’s easy to see where this is going – the pressure is now building on Inashiro because of their missed scoring chances (that at least is totally realistic), and we’ve had voluminous hints that the mentally-fragile Mei-chan is going to go on “tilt” sooner or later.  So Seidou will obviously win, deservedly or not – and given that, let’s just turn the game over to the diaper dandies (and Miyuki) and let them dominate the narrative, because those three (yes, even Furuya) are a lot more interesting than the stiffs in focus at the moment.

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  1. s

    Going from what I still remember, next week's episode won't be much better, though it does improve afterwards. This also seems to be one of the cases where I'm glad I've read the manga, since you can get through this part way quicker than with the anime (though I pity those who had to endure this match while those chapters were published).

  2. S

    Great scorching review. There's nothing I like about this matchup so far. I chuckled when I heard that poor #5-at-bat cardboard character say "Uga" for the third time in one episode. At least mr "Kyaaaaaa" got to say a few real lines this week. I anticipate "blows air through nostrils really hard"-guy to be my new favourite character to hate by next episode.

  3. g

    I share your irritation at how everything seems to be breaking Seidou's way – but for me, I can't help but think it's all being used to set up a crushing defeat.

    I haven't read the manga or anything, but the overall tone of the new OP makes me think everyone is mad/reflective about something bad that happened. Just a guess though.

    If they do win thanks to a series of lucky breaks it will irk me – but there is a part of that kind of story telling I can respect, if not enjoy. Bullshit lucky breaks do happen in sports all the time (though they never seem to happen for the team you root for…)

  4. k

    Watching the episode, I was thinking the whole time, "When will the brother Haruichi come in? I wanna see him play! Get lost, Ryou!" I was really wondering, what's the sense of putting Haruichi on the OP and ED when he's almost absent inside the game in the whole series run? So all throughout, I just try to think that maybe he's sort of a secret weapon that they will use when they're in a pinch or something.

    Another thing, Tanba, GET LOST! YOU'RE A BORE TO WATCH!!!! (sorry XD)

    Oh, yeah, I forgot. How many episodes is this series?

  5. Apparently 20 more, roughly. Thought the DVDs are selling well and the manga continues to be a powerhouse, so they might just decide to animate the whole thing eventually.

  6. A

    You see this is why I like to read your reviews. I don't have baseball whatsoever in my country so I'm learning the game through this anime and reading your reviews helps explain a few things lol.

    As for this episode, I too wondered why Ryo didn't realize that he's doing more harm than good and step down after that play. I mean doesn't he feel any guilt? Or am I overlooking some male bravado that I don't quite understand?

    Poor Tanba, but from the start of the series they noted that Seidou's problem is its pitching so I see Tanba as part of the problem that they described. He will always be overshadowed by someone else so that leaves his very meh personality to contend with.

    Also, I feel that maybe Seidou's coaching isn't as polished as we thought (or at least for me).

    Sad to say, I don't think Seidou deserve to win…

  7. I agree – Kataoka is no Joe Maddon. He has his issues.

    There is indeed a male bravado thing at play here. You see this not just in manga but RL sports – guys who play hurt, damage the team in the process and are hailed as heroes for it.

    The problem with AoD specifically is, why exactly am I supposed to be rooting for this team again? The "Ugah!" guy? The playing injured guy? The pitcher who isn't that good and knows it? The third-years have always been the Achilles' heel of this series, but now that they're in the spotlight for such an extended time it's becoming a major problem.

  8. A

    Well they did call them the hopeless year in the flashbacks 😛

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