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.