Diamond no Ace – 57

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Watch out, Inashiro – Seidou’s got wood.

After a one-week break, Ace of Diamond is back on our screens.  And while the Inashiro game has had its peaks and valleys, I definitely find that I missed this show – all the more so because the last episode ended on a real high, with Eijun at-last entering the game and breaking up the monotony of the focus on boring third-years.  And while he’s not much involved here, this episode will go down as one of the best that didn’t feature Eijun heavily.

The glacial, Oofuri-like pacing does continue – the entire episode covers 2/3 of a half-inning, with both outs being gifted from Seidou to Inashiro via bunts.  But it’s pretty exciting stuff, and an interesting lesson on the differences between Japanese baseball (especially high school baseball) and American.  There’s a lot of tension in the air here, because Eijun has worked his magic and lifted the pall of defeatism that was hanging over Seidou, and because the pressure is building on Inashiro.  The weight of all those missed scoring chances is adding up, and the painful memories of Mei’s Koushien meltdown are never far from his mind – and I think even more importantly, from Masa’s.

There’s an interesting discussion in the Seidou dugout regarding Mei’s use of the changeup – Chris wonders if there’s a specific reason why he generally throws ten per game, and Mei’s reaction after Isashiki lifted a harmless fly to left off one may be a clue.  But Kataoka tells his guys to forget about it – if they’re this obsessed with it, Mei has already won.  And indeed he throws no more in this episode, and the Seidou hitters seem liberated.  Furuya starts things off with a single to right, and Eijun advances him with a perfect (as usual) bunt.

Now, in American baseball you’d very rarely see a sacrifice trailing by two runs in the eighth inning – though with Eijun apparently being a pretty hopeless hitter and Kataoka not wanting to burn him after 1/3 of an inning, it’s not impossible.  But after an infield hit leaves men on first and third, you get something you’d never see in American baseball – a squeeze with one out trailing by two runs in the eighth, and with a decent hitter (Kuramochi) up to boot.  And not only that, Kataoka has him bunt with two strikes!  Very, very Japanese, and pretty out there even at that – though it does work, and does seem to further rattle Mei (and Masa).  Masa is a very good player and leader, but he does seem to have a character flaw – he thinks too much, and worries too much.  He’s somehow intrinsically negative in his outlook, and I think his lack of confidence in Mei’s stability comes through, and weighs heavily on Mei’s shoulders.

At this point, it’s finally time for Haruichi to take the stage – yes, his older brother (far too late) finally admits he’s been hurting the team and tells Kataoka he wants a pinch-hitter.  I can see where this is hard for him – it could be his last game, and it’s clear that Haruichi is going to end up surpassing him as a player eventually.  But this was allowed to go on for far too long, and Ryounosuke is mostly to blame (though Kataoka or his butt-monkey advisor – or Chris – easily could have noticed the problem). 

As for Haru-chin, he finally gets his moment – wooden bat and all.  That in itself is interesting, because the idea of using a wooden bat by choice in a game seems very strange.  But there’s more to this than most people understand.  Practicing with a wooden bat makes one a better fundamental hitter – you’re forced to use your lower-body more, and to try and hit the ball on the sweet spot (much smaller with a wood bat).  That’s not news – but it’s also true that if you can hit a ball on the sweet spot, you will actually hit it harder with a wood bat than an aluminium one.  The wood bat has more potential power – if you can generate the same bat speed and hit the sweet spot – but it’s much harder to realize it.  Using a wood bat is a gesture of confidence, even a bit of swagger – superficially out of character for the mild-mannered Haruichi, but I’m thinking not so much as it seems.  With he and Eijun in center-stage next week, it should be a fascinating episode.

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  1. S

    I feel like that week off for Diamond no Ace definitely killed some of the momentum from what is otherwise starting to shape up to be a very interesting game.

    I think I really do enjoy seeing Narumiya getting taken apart by both Eijun and Furuya. I have to agree that Eijun really is the reason that the team has any shot of winning this at all.

    What I think shocked me the most, even more so than last week, was Kataoka. I recall last week you being pretty darn pissed off at him, more so than myself. This week I think roles reversed.

    When Ryounosuke finally manned up and did the nobel thing by telling his coach about his issues, Kataoka's damn response is: "Are you sure?"

    Not, "I applaud you for your sacrifice, and for putting the team ahead of yourself" or something encouraging like that, but he genuinely was asking Ryounosuke is he for sure wanted to bow out?

    As a coach, and an adult supervising and guiding these players… that just seemed to so damn irresponsible and stupid. I literally screamed at the screen when I saw that.

    I dunno, generally in sports shows, the coach has a very sweet mentor like relationship with the team, one that generally is a big part of what makes sports anime so great where there's eccentric characters like Eijun.

    Kataoka though… I seriously wonder if he should be coaching anyone…

  2. Yes, I would agree – Kataoka didn't exactly impress in that moment. Not to mention he should have noticed in any event, but "Are you sure?" is not exactly what I would have been hoping for.

  3. j

    We don't need the usual congratulatory BS. Both Kataoka and Ryounoske know what had to be done at the time. The answer to "Are you sure?" wasn't going to change the outcome, but I like how Kataoka is letting Ryounoske speak up for himself how he decides to impact the team.

    When a coach says "thank you for your sacrifice" that's essentially telling the players what they are supposed to do. With Kataoka, players are expected to man up and take responsibility. Thank you? No, you do what you are supposed to do.

  4. I wasn't looking for any kind of gesture of gratitude – far from it, as you'd know if you've read my prior thoughts on the topic. Ryou was no hero – he was selfish and stupid, though Kataoka's reaction is part of the reason why. The issue at least for me is that Kataoka's "Are you sure?" implies "So you're not a real man, then?" It's exactly this sort of attitude that celebrates idiocy like Ryou staying in the game when he should have been on the bench.

  5. S

    Agreed. See the normal reaction to someone doing the right thing is to incourage them to do the right thing.

    And I think Enzo just so eloquently put what took me a wall of text to TRY to say:

    — The issue at least for me is that Kataoka's "Are you sure?" implies "So you're not a real man, then?" It's exactly this sort of attitude that celebrates idiocy like Ryou staying in the game when he should have been on the bench." —

    This is the issue IMO. The fact that Kataoka was actually entertaining the idea, that… despite how it would hurt the team and potentially have them lose the match, he was more or less suggesting that if Ryounoske wanted to continue playing… He could.

    And Maybe Kataoka's response wasn't going to change anything, and Ryounoske was going to quit anyway… Its still the wrong response. At least… That's how I felt about it. =/

  6. j

    I don't see the implication that you two do. He merely asked Ryou if he was sure because he wanted to confirm Ryou's commitment to his decision. This segued into Ryou giving his spiel about reliable underclassmen, because that's the reason why he's comfortable with stepping out.

    When you're in a game of any sport and you're dealing with something like an injury, you have this internal conflict between thinking you need to stay in and fulfill your responsibilities or thinking you should step out and let your teammates do a (possibly) better job than you. So I see Kataoka's question more as a way to see how firm Ryou's resolve is.

    But, you know, nothing is explicitly stated so I'm not saying you two's interpretations are incorrect or anything, I just don't agree.

  7. S

    I think that's totally fine. I mean, honestly I think Diamond no Ace is a great show. Given how few of us actually care enough about the show to comment about it, I'm okay with agreeing to disagree.

    I mean this one scene aside (which really was just that, one scene), it was a fantastic episode and I can't wait for next week XD

  8. Yeah, I obviously have no issue with disagreements when they're presented respectfully, as this was. I just wanted to make it clear that my issue with the scene and the line of dialogue wasn't what Jim said it was.

    I will say though, the more familiar one becomes with the "kaibutsu" mentality of Japanese schoolboy baseball, the less likely one is to view what Kataoka said as being innocuous. IMO.

  9. A

    Nope, sorry I agree with Enzo and Setsuken. That "Are you sure?" meant if Ryou wanted back in the game the coach would allow it.

    I don't know anything about "kaibutsu" but I have been watching this anime since the start and Kataoka's past behaviour is what leads me to believe he had EVERY intention on allowing Ryou to continue.
    Why? Because that coach panders to the individual desires of the 3rd years even to the detriment of the whole team.

    At this point, I want Inashiro to win because as the team stands now it would be foul if they made it to Nationals.

  10. S

    Kaibutsu is Japanese for what I'd roughly translate as "monster" or "insane". Its like how you refer to certain athletes, who do crazy things. In this specific case, Enzo is talking about the Japanese mentality to really push their players past what should really be acceptable. We saw another hint/acknowledgement of this back when Chris had his whole backstory/flashback shown.

    Can't say I'm a fan of this idea… Athletes already have a pretty short half life, so to speak, and needless pushing of the players just makes it worse.

  11. S

    errr… Japanese High School Baseball mentality (Not Japanese in general XD)

  12. K

    Random comment but they now have plushies for this series: Sawamura, Miyuki, and surprisngly Kuramochi (I had no idea he was even popular)

  13. For what possible reason could he be popular? Next you'll be telling me the "Ugah!" guy has his own line of doujins.

  14. K

    But here it is http://myfigurecollection.net/search.php?type_strict=1&type_id=75347

    The plushies are pretty ugly I must say but I don't think this type of merchandise gets made unless a character has a certain level of popularity, especially when it is not a main character. But I am as surprised as you.

  15. A

    Whoa Whoa! There is nothing wrong with Kuramochi and he deserves to be popular Lol

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