The sixth and theoretically final cour of Diamond no Ace kicks off with a very solid transitional episode, though I would strongly advise against watching the new ED (listening is fine) unless you want to be spoiled about the biggest cliffhanger the series has going at the moment. I’m also not convinced that this is indeed the final cour, at least in the long-term – Ace of Diamond continues to sell well on DVD and move gajillions of manga volumes, and there’s plenty of source material left to adapt. I’d suspect a break of six months or a year, and then a return.
In the meantime, the series is in a rather awkward stage at the moment, what with the drama of the quest for Koushien having gone out in a blaze of drama and half of the main cast more or less exiting stage left (not that I’ll miss them). There’s a lot of unfinished business to be sorted out, with the fall tournament the next milestone on the schedule, and the Seidou team is in a state of transition in every way that matters.
The first order of business is the selection of a new captain, and it doesn’t yield any surprises as far as I’m concerned. As many communication issues as he has and as weird a guy as he is, Miyuki is really the only one that makes sense. Nori is a head-case and I don’t see leadership coming from Kuramochi (and as for Maezono, I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out of a lineup – police or baseball – before this week). The only part that did strike me odd was that the coach seemingly chose the new captain (with Yuki’s recommendation) – I would have thought the players would vote on that.
I like Miyuki’s choice of words – he vows to be “greedy for victory”, which suits his personality and sums up the task at-hand for the Seidou squad. The underclassmen who actually got to play in the Koushien preliminary tournament are hanging their heads a lot more than the other freshmen and sophomores, who’re (rightfully) more focused on their intense desire to actually get a chance to compete, and the opportunity the seniors’ departure provides them. Guys like Haruichi will come around soon enough and don’t bear much worry, and since Furuya is so intensely focused on himself rather than the team his motivation is never in doubt.
It’s Eijun that remains the big concern here, given the nature of his exit from the Inashiro game (unless you care about Nori’s situation a lot more than I do). But as suspected, Furuya unwittingly did Eijun a favor when he unilaterally declared himself the next ace. Eijun may have been upset about hitting a batter on the head and watching Kawakami blow the game, but he’s never one to back off from a challenge. A lot goes into this “Ace” thing – in Japanese baseball (especially schoolboy) it’s symbolically far more important than in American baseball. It’s about more than just having the best raw stuff, though ultimately that’s mighty important – there’s the matter of how one carries themselves, and how much their teammates can rely on them. Kawakami isn’t even in the game here as far as I’m concerned, seniority be damned, but Furuya and Eijun certainly make a fascinating study in contrasts.
There’s a curve-ball delivered late in the count this week, and that’s the news that Kataoka is resigning after the fall tournament. I’m not completely shocked by this, as there was a vibe in the air that this might happen, but it’s still somewhat unexpected. It’ll be interesting to see where Daiya no A goes with this – will they follow through with this course and introduce a new coach into the cast, or might Kataoka be persuaded to change his mind? He’s slightly more interesting that most of the departing third-years, but I can’t say I’d be crushed if Kataoka really did leave – both as coach and character, for me he’s decidedly middling.
ED5: “PROMISED FIELD” by Seidou High School Basebal Club