Diamond no Ace – 70

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This is getting seriously depressing.

I pretty much know where Daiya no A is going with this arc, and it’s not fundamentally different from a very standard theme we see in a lot of sports anime.  But damn, it’s frustrating to watch.  Eijun deserves better than he’s getting from his seniors.  And his coach, too, though I’ve pretty much given up on him.  I’m sure he’ll be painted as some kind of tough-love genius when Eijun finally blows past this (which he must, or the series is pretty much owari) but he’s handled Eijun’s crisis with incredible clumsiness and insensitivity, even by his woeful standards.

Then there’s Furuya.  I’ve made many attempts to like or at least respect him, and I’ve justified his general attitude as not atypical or unhelpful for someone who wants to be a #1 starter (and it’s not).  But I’m sorry – he’s a dick, and I hate him.  “We don’t need two pitchers on the mound?”  As usual, Eijun – despite being at the low ebb of his career and possibly his life – handled the situation with a lot more class and respect that Douchebag-kun.  I acknowledge Furuya has massive talent and a huge drive to win glory for himself, but I don’t think I can ever root for Seidou as long as he’s on the mound.  I want him to get lit up like a Christmas tree every time he takes the ball – to learn a little humility, preferably by humiliation.

I did have a brief flareup of hope when I saw Chris’ face, because he’s the only sempai who’s ever been a damn bit of good to Eijun.  But no, this is Japan – so we have to fall back on that “pick yourself up by your bootsraps” trope and dispense with the notion of compassion or help for the emotionally hurting if that person is a boy. Again, it’s a given that eventually Eijun will beat this (with the help of Musashi Miyamoto, it seems – and not even Vagabond, but the Book of Five Rings) at least well enough to become what he was in the Koushien qualifiers or we don’t have a story.  But Ace of Diamond is going to be a bit of a chore to watch in the meantime, and it’s hard to imagine his comeback isn’t going to feel a little hollow if it plays out as I expect it to.  We’ve seen the yips before in baseball manga (most prominently in Major) so this isn’t exactly fresh ground for Daiya to cover.

With things so bleak around Seidou, the cutaway to Inashiro felt like a breather if nothing else.  As the reigning Koushien runners-up, their lives are very different from Seidou: their third–years are still working with the team in preparation for the sports festival and international games against the USA.  Their preparation for the fall tournament takes a back seat to their responsibilities as a celebrity team, which may in fact set them back some for not just the fall, but the next year.  They have at least chosen a new captain – Fuku-chan, a scrub who Masa says isn’t likely to ever be a starter, but is widely-respected – even by Narumiya (I find that hard to believe) as a support guy.  They have a new catcher too, Itsuki Tadano (Yamaya Yoshitaka), who looks to be a first-year.  He’s worried (justifiably) that the time he should be spending bonding with his Ace is unavailable to him because Masa is still the first-string, and Mei is wisely being shut down to rest after the insane Koushien workload.  Replacing Masa is already a huge burden, so this kid has a lot on his shoulders.

Really, at this point my favorite team is definitely Yakushi.  I love the way Raizou disdains Kataoka’s pompous stick-up-the-ass bullshit (even if he doesn’t do so out loud).  I love the way they dispense with the protocols of Japanese high-school baseball and just have fun – they play ragged, loud and exciting baseball and they have a blast doing it.  Raizou is no Saint – he focus on his son’s dollar value is distastefully in its excess, but at least it’s honest.  And they sure as hell are a lot more interesting to watch than a Seidou team led by Furuya and Miyuki.

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13 comments

  1. l

    Now that they have brought Chris into the picture on Eijun's problem, it is a given that Chris will help Eijun in his recovery. As to how, watch on.

    Kataoka is the typical strict Asian father figure type with a soft spot for his charges that he hides behind a strict visage. Also like that archetype, he's not good at communicating with his charges and only knows how to do so but giving them commands and instructions. If you watch through so many episodes, you would have noted that Eijun is Kataoka's wildcard. That said, he fouled up massively in letting Eijun get pummeled by Yakushi instead of pulling him out early when it started to go pear-shape instead of waiting until it went pear-shaped. I now the answer to this but wish to know from you: Do you think that Kataoka has given up on him? And the reasons behind the answer.

    As March 2015 rapidly approaches, there is still no word of any extension. It would be awkward if they end this run just before the fall tournament. *crosses fingers for a continuation instead of waiting for more*

  2. Yeah, and I'm sick of that archetype. Never liked it much to begin with.

    Of course Kataoka hasn't given up on Eijun, because there's no series if he has. But that's not the point for me – the point is that he's a lousy communicator and a terrible coach and when Eijun miraculously recovers and we're supposed to think Kataoka handled this just fine, I'm going to call bullshit.

    Borderline manga spoiler comment, by the way. Frankly, over the borderline, but whatever – cannot unsee.

  3. K

    I understand this will lead to character development and Eijun being even better than before but the issue is Ace of Diamond episodes can really drag at times so a dragging storyline of Sawamura being in the dumps just isn't very compelling for me.

  4. Y

    Hello~ I think I first found your blog through your first impressions on AoD, and now found you again with the series nearing its end.

    I really like the fresh perspective you give on the characters. I actually thought Kataoka was pretty close to his players, but now that I look back at it, maybe that's just with the third years' batch and all the drama brought up between them, Yuuki especially. I've also never really had a problem with Furuya, since he's basically perfect as a comparison study subject against Eijun, and that's pretty much where I'm getting my tolerance for his unsupportive attitude from, but I do admit that the story has been progressing far too smoothly for him and far too roughly on supposed the supposed MC. It might just be me being overly attached to Ei-chaaaan, but honestly, at this point, I do feel that the plot is pushing towards an Ace Furuya storyline, wherein what's left for Eijun is the captain position (since he's basically the aniki of the first years; osana najimi peeps will attest to that, and even Kanemaru can't disagree). But that's pretty much the opposite of what each of them came to Seidou for, so yaaaaaaah.

    Basically, this entire transition arc is messy and draggy and emotionally draining and the only saving grace it has is Yakushi's appearance. T__T After 70 episodes of Eijun's utter preciousness, no amount of preparation could have prepared for his extended Break the Cutie moment.

    As an extra note, it is increasingly seeming more likely that the anime will be stopping just before the fall tournament; it breaks off at a nice point, buuuut, yeah, it would be kind of awkward to stop there since the manga (which is on break itself) has been projected to restart in the spring. TBH the fall tournament has plenty of material left to animate, though the anime is definitely fast catching up on the manga.

  5. L

    Actually, every time Sawamura pitches, there's that little heartache I'm feeling for Furuya. This is why I can't CAN'T ever hate him. I don't know if you have seen this or not but Sawamura is closer to the team (Furuya is also close to them but when Sawamura's up, it just gives me different vibes) and you can really see that his attitude is more suited for being the Ace. I think Furuya kinda has a complex about that. He sees Sawamura as an equal or even greater existence to him. All his teammates before he went to Seido gave up on him. He went to Seido because he wanted to find a place where he belongs. I think he values connection among his teammates greatly. Sawamura's natural and effortless way of getting along with all kinds of people is like what we see as Furuya's great baseball sense in Furuya's perspective. If the story is written with Furuya as the center, I'm sure many people will end up not liking Sawamura. I think too many people are so much focused on Sawamura that they also take his natural ability to be at the center of people for granted.

    I hope this makes you see it from a different perspective~

  6. No, but points for trying. ;-P

    I would feel more inclined to have some sympathy for Furuya for the reason you suggest if he'd ever shown the remotest interest in supporting his teammates, or respecting Eijun as a colleague and rival.

  7. S

    " But I'm sorry – he's a dick, and I hate him" Haha, I love it. I'm starting to agree with you there. The worst one of the cast is Kataoka though. He's a stupid and tired stereotype which wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't such a dick.

    I was really amped about this arc two weeks ago. The cardboard third years are finally gone and I was ready for a nice little montage of progress and a revolutionising change of coaches. Instead it chose a really depressing route (with not even that much of a leg to stand on!) and, since it's Diamond no ace, it's going to drag on for ages. Torture squared!

  8. n

    I completely agree with you, Enzo, the behaviour of Furuya was really despicable during the game : putting a lot on pressure on Sawamura because he wanted to return on the mound and not a word of compassion when they switched. I'm starting to wonder if the author could have did this on purpose.
    I can't believe that we so Eijun read Musashi's book. I was hoping for more development (Musashi, when he was young, was quite like Eijun, that could have been inspiring for him).
    I still hope they won't stay on the yips for too long …

  9. Musashi, when he was young, was quite like Eijun, that could have been inspiring for him.

    Now picturing Eijun as Takezou…

  10. S

    Oh my GOD Furuya. If I had been in Eijun's shoes, I would've smacked the asshole. I think the way Eijun handeled his failure with grace is unheard of. Even his teammates were surprised, but that's all the were. No one even gave a little support, its quite sickening.

    What a douchebag. I mean, He can never ever be the ace, because someone as selfish and self centered as Furuya is the very anti-thesis of team player. And Baseball, even with its focus on the Ace, is still a team sport.

    Again, as you said, the thing that seems to be bugging the hell out of me, is that no one is pointing out how much of a failure of a human being Kataoka is. I'm not against the tough love fatherly type figure, Anime has done it again and again and done it well.

    But Kataoka isn't the tough love, strict figure that's giving up on Eijun. He's a COMPLETE failure of a coach. I think its even more telling given that we've seen more caring, interested coaches in this very series, that it makes it all upsetting.

    I was honestly very surprised that Chris didn't do anything to help Eijun immediately.

    If I was Eijun, man, I'd be depressed and would have quit the baseball team by now. I mean… Wow. NO one whatsoever is lending him a helping hand, and everyone is just observing from afar at how "he's down in the dumps".

    Jesus…

  11. Well, two words: Roger Clemens.

    Douchebags can be aces – or #1 starters at least – if their performance (enhanced or not (speaks loudly enough). But it doesn't seem like they can fill the Ace role as this series wants to define it.

  12. S

    True. I guess in terms of REAL Baseball. That said, This kind of coach bullshit wouldn't be tolerated there for sure XD.

    Like you said, what the Ace means in Dia no Ace is someone who is the emotional, mental core of the team that brings them up, both by leading in terms of skill, and just creating a good mood and pace for the team.

    My mind goes back to a similar moment in the past, when Furuya couldn't let go of the ball, and how kindly and nicely Eijun lead him off the ground, preserving his dignity and cheering him on.

    Forget about returning the favor, Furuya just spit on Eijun as he left.

  13. M

    "But I'm sorry – he's a dick, and I hate him."
    That's blunt, but I would be lying if I didn't say my sentiments exactly.

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