Diamond no Ace – 58

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Yeah, you had to know that’s where they were going to end it.

The peculiarity of Daiya no A, no doubt, is that it practically grinds to a halt every time the focus turns to one of the Seidou third-years – yet it still manages to be a pretty compelling series overall despite how often that happens.  This episode is a perfect example of that – it has a black hole named Isashiki in the middle, sucking dramatic tension into oblivion, and ends with a focus on a complete cipher in Yuki.  Yet it still manages to be a very good in-game episode.

How is that?  Well, the most obvious answer is that the first part focuses on Haruichi, which is an incalculably better idea.  And there’s no question his segment is good (those bashful fist-pumps never get old) but in truth, it’s mostly over in five minutes or so.  It’s a darn good five minutes, with a flashback to the first time he bought his wooden bat – over his brother’s objections, naturally.  But as Ryou says, “If you can master the wooden bat, you’ll be a truly exceptional hitter”, which is true for more or less the reasons I discussed last week.  I like Haruchin’s reasoning here – if he wants to surpass a brother two years older (and to boys, two years is like two centuries) than he has to do something in an exceptional way.

I hope Haruchin has another bat, because one of the reasons kids don’t use wooden bats much is that they break, and money is an important consideration in supplying youth baseball.  But he manages to muscle a bloop single to left despite Mei breaking his bat, once again baiting an older pitcher to throw inside by standing on top of the plate.  I’m not sure why the runner (I still can’t remember his name, which tells you something about Daiya’s weakness with secondary and tertiary characters) didn’t score, as he should have been off with the crack (literally) of the bat with two outs.  But he didn’t, which left Haruichi standing on first, apple-cheeked, and Furuya actually so excited he’s mimicking Eijun’s “Yosh!”.

Isashiki draws a walk (after a thoroughly tedious flashback with another character I don’t care about) and clears the stage for Yuki with the bases loaded.  Here’s where the episode really should have broken, because Yuki, too, isn’t terribly interesting.  Despite being the clear best player on Seidou, we’ve gotten almost no opportunity to get into his head – even compared to the other third-years, he’s gotten almost no real development and exists more as an image than a character.  But it actually works pretty well, because in fact Mei and Masa are way more interesting than Yuki.  And this moment ends up being more about them than the batter.  This dynamic has saved Ace of Diamond on a number of occasions, and though it’s hardly the first series to develop opponents more than some of the heroes, it’s rarely quite so stark as it with this one.

We have our answer as to why Mei doesn’t throw the changeup more late in games – as he tires, “each one is higher than the last”.  While based on a sound principle this is a bit silly taken to this extreme, and the same weariness that causes him to hang changeups would also effect his forkball and slider.  Nevertheless it explains Masa’s strategy – use it often to get inside the hitters’ heads, and then have them expecting it when Mei is no longer using it.  But against Yuki, Mei really has no choice – he starts shaking Masa off, presumably because he wants the change but perhaps because he wants to challenge Yuki with the fastball.  Which he does, to the tune of a couple of fouls – but it’s clear he can’t close the deal with that pitch (and can’t risk throwing it for a strike).  It all comes down to one pitch, when Masa finally gets the coach’s OK and calls for the change – and though this is only the 8th inning, one gets the sense that the result is pretty much the game.

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  1. K

    I will be extremely disappointed if Yuki doesn't get the hit after that built up. We already saw Mei strike out Yuki. We already saw Mei throw a perfect change up (who cares if he has trouble later in the game that's not compelling enough)

    The only thing that would be worthwhile of this cliffhanger is to see Mei throw a perfect Change-Up and for Yuki to hit it. Otherwise I am going to be super annoyed.

    Also the Haruichi part was great but too little too late. Of course Haruichi is a first year so I guess he will have plenty more time to shine but will we see it animated?

  2. K

    Also while Yuki may not have much in terms of character development I like him more than Mei who is just arrogance. I like Masa as a catcher but not enough for me to root for his battery with Mei.

  3. S

    I did kind of wonder why we got so many flashbacks this episode. While I'm not quite so anti-Ishigaki as yourself, I can't help but wonder why there was a need for his backstory at this point in the game. It really did kill momentum.

    As for Yuki, I honestly don't have such great expectations of the guy. Beyond being a cipher as you put it, he really hasn't been able to perform much at all in the match. He's mostly been shut out by Mei, except for that one hit he did. I dunno, I get the idea that the show wants Yuki to appear like this image of Seido's most powerful player, and be more of an enigma and a symbol, but the actions and events work to contradict it all.

    Yuki hasn't surprised or impressed in the same way that Haruchi, Eijun and even Furuya have. In fact, I feel like the fact that the third years constantly seem to let you down, and rarely do anything interesting or have any interesting conflicts.

    Its rather telling that Yuki's "flashback" (adding the count to an annoying three) was from Kataoka's POV instead of something that actually gave him some depth.

    And again, despite all of this, I did enjoy this episode too. I guess I'm more interested in seeing the Eigth Inning go, and have Eijun back on the feild now.

  4. g

    Of course, he couldn't perform in this match. Because he's a one person in Seidou, who Mei is afraid and goes 100% at him. I'm sorry but there was a suggested conclusion couple episodes earlier, when everybody else in Seidou had to swallow a bitter pill, Mei is underestimating all of them as batters except Yuki.

  5. I noted exactly the same thing – even Yuki's flashback wasn't from his perspective. This remove is obviously intentional, but it doesn't make him any less uninteresting.

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