What They Say:
Eijun Sawamura finally makes his first appearance at the spring invitational! He wants to restore Seido’s reputation as a first-rate team and make them national champions! Seido High School Baseball Club’s new run is about to begin!
Episode 43 – “Summer Training Camp”
The Seido baseball team is holding their summer training camp. The managers are working hard to prepare onigiri for them to eat. Sawamura is trying to eat natto, his least favorite food, in order to gain the stamina to pitch for nine innings without getting tired. The players are keenly interested in who will perform well in the training camp and earn a numbered jersey for the summer tournament. Will Sawamura, Furuya or Kawakami earn the right to wear the ace number?
Episode 44 – “Setting Sail”
It’s the final day of the summer training camp. The batters of the Seido nine are doing all they can to prepare to face top-tier pitchers like Narumiya and Amahisa. That evening, Coach Kataoka starts fielding drills that work the players to the bone. The next day is the drawing to decide which block each school will play in for the summer tournament. What teams will Seido High School be up against?
Episode 45 – “Go EXCEED”
Showing the sum total of his pre-tournament training, Sawamura pitches impressively against powerhouse school Kokonoe, holding them to two runs in eight innings. Meanwhile, Ochiai still holds esteem for Furuya who wore the ace number and still continues to improve. Will Seido’s ace for this summer be Sawamura, or Furuya? What will Kataoka decide?
Episode 46 – “Encouragement”
Seido awaits their first game of the summer tournament. Sawamura wants to get used to wearing the ace number and so begins to sleep in his uniform, earning him a teasing from his roommates. Coach Kataoka receives an stimulating call from his former mentor Coach Sasaki, the coach of Yura Sogo Engineering High School who they are about to face. Yura Sogo competes in the first round anticipating their game against the seeded Seido. What does the cunning Coach Sasaki have up his sleeve?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s still a middle point between the final days of training camp and the beginning of the summer tournament proper, but there’s still a lot going on at Seido. Maybe my favorite parts of these episodes is where Kataoka really shows his chops as the coach of this team. Ochiai may know as more or more than Kataoka in terms of baseball, but he doesn’t have near the interpersonal skills that Kataoka does. His third years he left off the roster are still around practicing with the rest of the team, and he even stays around with them through well after the end of practice to let them get those final reps they’ll ever get as Seido baseball players. It just goes to show how much of a leader he is, and how trusted he is by all of his players.
But there are also moments of levity within the show, especially when there’s not any baseball being played. As a way of team building, they play Smash Brothers in Sawamura, Kuramochi, and Asada’s room. I hope they all know how to wavedash, at least. Yuki and Miyuki are playing shogi, at the behest of the elder Yuki, who says that Miyuki is the best player on the team. Furuya, it seems, likes being a gofer for everyone else, which is weird, but also very fitting? These moments are good, and remind us that this baseball anime is not about professional players, but high school players.
On the baseball end of things, Sawamura is pitching into the high 130 kmh, and might hit 140 at the tournament (a comment from Miyuki that, as of the first game, proved ominous). Furuya is hitting 148 kmh, and seems to be back to his usual self. On the batting side, Kuramochi has switched to being only a left-handed batter, a callback that goes way far when Ochiai said he should focus only on hitting from the left side. It ended up being great for him, as his average is up, not that average should be any sole determiner anymore.
The few games they did play in this range of episodes were not shown either at all or only in bursts where nothing substantive was learned from it. What we were told (in typical Ace of the Diamond fashion) was that Sawamura pitched well in the hardest game among them, against Kokonoe. He pitched 8 innings, allowing 7 hits and 2 runs, which should be enough to get them a win against most any opponent in the tournament. It’s at least better than a quality start, for what those mean anymore.
Sawamura wants to be able to pitch a complete game in these tournaments, ace number or not, because he wants to be able to carry the team as much as he’s able (yet another foreboding comment, in hindsight). He’s also trying too hard in practice, leading his stuff to be a little diminished, but not so much that it’s immediately concerning to Miyuki. He’s tensing up because he wants to live up to some lofty expectations, and he doesn’t want to send these third years the same way they were sent home in the last summer tournament.
In all the work Sawamura has put in though, compounded with Furuya’s struggles and injury, means that Kataoka entrusts the ace number to Sawamura over Furuya. It weighs heavily on Sawamura, and he trembles as he takes the number, but he’s finally reached the pinnacle he’s wanted to within the team. From here, he just has to lead them to victory at Koushien.
The full roster is as follows:
- Sawamura Eijun, LHP
- Miyuki Kazuya, C
- Maezono Kenta, 1B
- Kominato Haruichi, 2B
- Kanemaru Shinji, 3B
- Kuramochi Yoichi, SS
- Aso Takeru, LF
- Tojo Hideaki, CF
- Shirasu Kenjiro, RF
- Kawakami Norifumi, RHP
- Furuya Satoru, RHP
- Ono Hiroshi, C
- Yamaguchi Ken, 1B
- Kijima Rei, 2B
- Yuki Masashi, LF
- Nakata Ataru, SS
- Higasa Shoji, 3B
- Kaneda Tadahiro P
- Yui Kaoru, C/OF
- Okumura Koshu, C
Unfortunately, this span of episodes didn’t have much going on in terms of really in depth character growth, just a lot of plot points that these kids had to go through to get to the tournament at all, most importantly, the giving out of the numbers. The review, thus, feels kind of light.
But this is the culmination of Sawamura’s dream since he came here. They flashed back to the first moments of Sawamura being here (not against the former third year, but when he officially joined) when he called out that he’s going to be the ace. It’s taken two years, but he’s finally here. He’s gone from jersey number 20 to 18 to finally 1. He’s become, one might say, the ace of the diamond, at least until perhaps Furuya or another pitcher wrestles it back from him.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Equipment: LG 47LB5800 47” 1080p LED TV, LG NB3530A Sound Bar