Saigo wa, straight…
There’s a new ED this week (#7 of the season if you count the first three episodes, believe it or not) but forgive me for not posting screencaps – I’ve learned the hard way not to watch OPs and EDs of sports anime too closely. As for the episode itself, well – it was yet another build-up ep, but at least it was an interesting one and managed to avoid pissing me off (much). And it almost has to be the last one, considering that it ended right before the first pitch.
There’s the requisite warm and fuzzy sentimentalism to start things off, with all the third-years back to try and help their kouhai stay calm and motivated the night before the big game. That includes Ryunosuke of course, who delivers a new wooden bat to his brother (Ochiai will be less than thrilled). And it’s a party in the bullpen, where the irreplaceable Eijun delivers the best moment of the episode with his “Thank you all for gathering here for me!”
I liked Chris-senpai’s description of what was going on with Eijun’s straight fastball – “like a reverse change-up”. In the States we would say his fastball has “late life” – that is, it seems to speed up as it bears down on the hitter. It doesn’t of course (damn physics) but because most guys’ fastballs slow down as they near the plate, a pitcher who puts a lot of spin on the ball and helps it retain velocity looks like his pitch is speeding up by comparison. And Kataoka is right about one thing – an effective fastball is pretty essential to making breaking pitches effective. Eijun is a growing boy both physically and in terms of technique, and it’s nice to see that starting to show in velocity.
So what’s going to happen in the Yakushi game – and after? Well, the doctor gives Furuya permission to throw one inning if he’s not in pain (like he’d admit it) which is likely a Chekov’s gun. Kawakami starting is a no-win narrative, because if he pitches well after the way he’s been portrayed it’s a complete asspull. Eijun will get his chance, obviously, but I’d just as soon not see it be a short stint in between the likes of Nori and Furuya.
The other interesting elements going on here are the dynamic between the coaches, and Kuramochi’s dilemma. I think we’ve progressed to the open admission that Ochiai is a better technician and teacher and Kataoka a better motivator in reasonably believable fashion, but what happens if Seidou wins this game? Can Kataoka really leave under those circumstances (Ochiai certainly doubts it)? And Kuramochi is stuck in the same terrible position he was in with summer Koushien – he knows a teammate is hurt, and he’s more or less forced to keep quiet about it. As with Ryunosuke I hate to see the selfish act of playing while injured and hurting the teamcelebrated as heroism, so hopefully Miyuki’s effort turns out better than Onii-san’s.