Let’s see – the series continued without an interruption, so I guess this is Episode 76 of Diamond no Ace. Except there was sort of a break – so it’s Season 2, Episode 1. Or do you count the three recap episodes, and make it Season 2, Episode 4? There’s no hard protocol for this – it’s pretty much an arbitrary decision no matter how you slice it. The credits do indeed say “Second Season”, so I guess we need to start the count over – and there was a smidge of new material in those recaps… So I suppose we’ll call it Episode 4 and get on with our lives.
The circumstances make it seem pretty likely the decision to continue Daiya no A came very late – the announcement sure did, and the first three eps not only recycled content, the first OP and ED as well. That’s a pretty awkward way to start a season but I don’t blame Madhouse and Production I.G. – I’m sure they did the best they could. Fortunately there’s a ton of unadapted manga material, and as Samu-kun (aye) and I discussed on our last podcast, Ace of Diamond is a series that actually seems to have made the jump to “new school” sports anime popularity despite pre-dating the boom. So we should be able to proceed from here without any issues, and for quite a while too.
It took me a while to get back in the swing of things – pun intended – because I just can’t sit through full-episode recaps. If you remember, the first season stumbled pretty badly in the late innings but rallied nicely in the finale. We pick up right where we left off, for better and for worse. Seidou is getting ready for the Fall Tournament, the third-years (Ugah!) have ceded the field, and the draw hasn’t ben kind – Seidou faces powerful Teitou High in the first round.
Teitou is the real deal – 21 Summer Koushien appearances, 2 titles, Best 16 this summer. They’re led by 65 year-old red-ass coach Okamoto and cocky first-year southpaw Mukai Taiyou (Saitou Souma), as well as second-year catcher Kengo Inui (Sugita Tomakazu, who sounds ridiculous as a 2nd year-high schooler but at least Inui looks about 40). Taiyou’s game is pinpoint control – he sees the strike zone as fully three-dimensional, as all great control pitchers do – and a dominant screwball as his out pitch. He’s also a submariner, which is going to have a very specific impact on the main storyline.
On the Seidou front, Daiya is still on-course to turn Ochiai into a full-on ogre for the audience to hate. He’s certainly earning it – this time around, he tells the resurgent Eijun (who calls him “Sarge” and treats him like a transfer student) that he’s “worthless” to the team as he is, so he may as well switch to sidearm so he can at least be a measure of use as a BP pitcher. It’s a measure of how fragile Eijun’s confidence is and how much of a team guy he is that he immediately agrees, though the results are disastrous. Fortunately Kataoka gets a pretty quick read on the situation and puts a stop to it – and doesn’t blow up on Eijun when he’s clearly the victim here.
Compared to what Ochiai is being turned into, anyone would look good – and even Kataoka does. He actually seems sort of liberated by the fact that he’s leaving, and may even be loosening up a bit (for him, anyway). The fact is that even if Ochiai weren’t written as a scumbag the situation the coaches are in is fraught with potential disaster – it’s like Ochiai bought a car but has to ride along as the old owner keeps driving it. It takes a back seat for the moment, though, as Eijun is still a pitcher and the Teitou game is upon us – and we’re back in the familiar pattern of waiting for Furuya to screw up so Eijun will get a chance to pitch…
ED6: “KIMERO!!” by OxT