This was a very odd episode of Daiya no A. It meandered through a alarmingly random subplot that seemed to drop out of nowhere, mixed in a larger than normal dollop of comedy, and seemed to be going nowhere of particular importance. But I hope you stuck it out, because in its final moments it delivered possibly the most important moment of the series so far, and certainly one that makes next week’s episode one well worth anticipating.
So just who were those three scrubs who popped up out of nowhere – have we even seen them before? Are they first or second-years? Their appearance did give us the always odd prospect of Ishida Akira playing a high schooler (Hisashi) – I give him props for being game, if not convincing. And yes, that was Matsuoka Yoshitsugu as Shinji. But I don’t really now why we’re supposed to give any damns about these kids and why they’re apparently thinking of quitting. It seems their importance will continue for at least one more ep, as it certainly wasn’t resolved here (and apparently isn’t about quitting the team after all, at least not solely about that).
This all felt fillerish, but it was manga material. So was the gag where Eijun gets the smallest slice of the team pie (ironic timing), and where he’s shown crying in class while reading a shoujo manga – though the anime changed it from Kimi ni Todoke to Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. There’s a nice moment where ‘Zono reveals how much he respects Eijun for his hard work and for not being intimidated by Furuya, which I especially loved because it’s so rare anyone on-screen shows any respect for him whatsoever. ‘Zono probably should have been the captain after all…
Apart from the new guys that was sort of what this episode was mostly about – that and general “day before” sports anime stuff with the second-round game on the horizon. But the game everyone is thinking about is the one after that, against Inashiro. We get a little check-in with them – Mei is still an obnoxious brat, except now he’s directing most of his snark at his new first-year catcher. There’s a lot of buildup for this rematch, this revenge game – but I have a nagging feeling we’re being set up here, and Inashiro may just lose their second-round game and spoil the party. We’ll find out soon enough.
There is a headline here though, and it’s a whopper. Kataoka reveals that he’s going to play Furuya in left for that second-round game (if we’ve even been told the opponent, I’ve forgotten who it is). And that means Eijun, at long last, is going to get a chance to start. To say this was a long time coming is an understatement, but I think he’s earned his chance – by his hard work and by his unwavering commitment to the team. Part of this is a test for Furuya, no doubt – to see how he responds to being smacked down a little for his deplorable behavior in the last game, and whether he can put the team before himself. “He can still act like the ace in left field”, Kataoka says – and it’s one of the smartest things he’s ever uttered. But even if this is as much about Furuya as Eijun, it’s still both a reward and an opportunity for him, and possibly the pivotal moment in the entire series. Now Eijun has to seize the moment while he can – prove he can pitch inside, and prove he deserves to be in the mix for the jersey he so desperately wants to wear.