I’d say the lack of recent comments on Daiya no A is a sign a lot of folks have lost interest, but the truth is I’ve never gotten many comments for this series. I certainly hope it hasn’t lost viewers, because for my money this last of episodes has been among the best in the entire series. There’s a kind of quiet confidence in the storytelling now and it’s venturing into some really interesting areas, and the hard truth is that being liberated from the burden of carrying the bland Seidou third-years (Chris is the only one I miss) has freed the series to rise to new heights.
That said, rising to new heights is something Ace of Diamond always does whenever Yakushi is involved. Not only are they by far the most interesting opponent in the series, I think they’re probably the most interesting team, period. I love the way they approach the game, which is to effectively spit in the eye of stick-up-the-ass, militaristic Japanese high school baseball. They’re brash, crude, massively talented and arrogant right down to their coach. But they seem to have way more fun playing a kid’s game than the other teams in this series, and I don’t think that’s by accident.
That leaves the series in a really good place, with the Seidou underclassmen fighting to establish their roles on the new roster and the Yashiro game looming as a crucial test for both teams, all while Kataoka is supposedly getting ready to step down in favor of Ochiai (who of course the players were told is an assistant coach). It’s an interesting dynamic, with a lot of storylines running parallel – Miyuki’s quest to step into the leadership role, Haruichi’s to step out of his brother’s shadow, new faces like Todo trying to make an impression.
Of course the main focus is on the pitching situation, as it should be given who the main character is. Furuya seems squarely in the lead here, with Eijun pitching well in a relief role (though not without Miyuki’s constant rain of criticism) and Kawakami struggling to find some semblance of a usable form. There’s also a couple of youngsters we haven’t heard from before, with a first-year named Kawashima getting into the mix. As usual Furuya is squarely focused on himself – demanding more innings to build his stamina, seemingly taking the Ace role for granted. And while Kataoka refuses his brash request to pitch the entire Yakushi game, he’s given no indication that Furuya is wrong in his assumptions. Each new self-absorbed move by Furuya makes me dislike him more, but aces – like strikers – seem to benefit from a healthy streak of selfishness and cockiness.
As for Yakushi, given the preponderance of first and second-years in their lineup they make a natural foil for the three Seidou protagonists. The main question with them is always pitching, and while Sanada seems to be in good form he still isn’t starting. In the Seidou game that honor falls to yet another first-year, Mishima Yuuta (Suzuki Tatsuhisa). Fittingly for Yakushi he too is big and brash, with ambitions to claim both the Ace and cleanup roles for himself, though the one inning we see from him indicates he still has some work to do to have any real case. The first big dramatic moment here is going to be when Furuya faces Raichi – both of them are on fire and full of arrogance, and it’ll be interesting to see which one takes a tumble.