It seems pretty clear that this is going to drag on for a while, so all I have to say is thank goodness for Todoroki Raichi. If the focus were solely on Seidou’s B-listers, these episodes would be pretty close to unwatchable.
When I see Diamond no Ace turning Nori into a hero, I have to wonder – does Terajima-sensei not realize what an anti-climax that creates? It’s a narrative no-win, but at least if Kawakami had flamed out things would have been consistent. As is, we have a guy that’s been built-up a certain way for more than a hundred episodes, and now he’s something completely different. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and worse, it doesn’t feel remotely engaging.
There are a couple of elements that save this episode from being a write-off, and not surprisingly they involve the more colorful members of the cast. Haruichi opens his eyes – that’s always news – and smacks a double off Miss-shima using Ryou’s batting gloves. The whole brother dynamic has always seemed a bit dubious given that Ryounosuke isn’t all that impressive generally speaking, but hey – that’s how it often is with younger brothers. Haruichi has been pretty quiet this season so it’s nice to see him have a spotlight moment.
The real saving grace of the ep, though, is Raichi coming in to pitch at last. Diamond no Ace has two really charismatic characters as far as I’m concerned, Eijun and Raichi – and the more we see of Raichi the better he comes off. Seeing how incredibly awkward and shy he is off the field somehow makes him even more interesting on it, and as a pitcher he’s exactly what you’d hope he would be. Raichi is what we call in baseball terms effectively wild – even he doesn’t really know where the ball is going, so it’s impossible for a batter (especially an analytical guy like Miyuki) to read him.
What I’m really hoping is that Raichi stays on the mound long enough to face off against Eijun, though I suspect Sanada will probably take over by the time Eijun is in the game. It just makes such a difference when one of those two is on-screen, and the series really shines when they both are. Even something as awkward as nearly beaning Miyuki is entertaining in Raich’s hands – Mei definitely picked the right time to finally show up. Now if we can just get Nori off the mount and Eijun in the game, Diamond no Ace will finally be firing on all cylinders.