This review is going to be covering episodes 1 through 75 in the usual format. Since this series spans a long time, I will sum it up as best as possible and give you the best impression of one of my favorite series that debuted in 2014. You can hit the jump below for the full details!
Ace of Diamond is a sports anime that follows the baseball life of Eijun Sawamura and his team at Seido High School. The first season (as I judge as episode 1 – 75), focuses upon Sawamura’s First Year at Seido during the summer baseball tournament. It gives a direct look at the trials, tribulations, and journey that he and his teammates must undertake in order to try and realize their ultimate goal; winning their division’s tournament and making the “Nationals”.
Within this year it covers how Sawamura evolves from middle school to high school and grows as a pitcher and overall baseball player. Not to mention it also focuses upon the players whom he will encounter that shapes his views on baseball, worth ethics, and determination to do well on the field. It also features his opponents whom forces him to either rise of crumble from the pressure.
Story & Plot Impressions
Overall, the story of Ace of Diamond is exactly as one would predict. It covers the main character, Eijun Sawamura, on his transition from middle school baseball to the world of high school baseball. Being the “Ace” of his middle school team, he is scouted by Seido high school’s recruiter. After being wow’d by what Seido has to offer after a visit to see the prestigious baseball club in action, he is determined to do what it takes to make the starting team. Making the executive decision to leave his days playing baseball with his friends behind, Sawamura is determined to get good enough to reign on the mound as the true “Ace”.
Something I felt that was bad early on was that they made Eijun’s friends his primary focus for his struggle on whether-or-not he wanted to go to Seido, only to make them a non-integral part of the story for much of the beginning episodes. Once we get closer towards the end of Seido’s season, we see his friends miraculously coming back to support him, but it would have been nice for the story if they were used as the core motivation as to why he tried so hard during the series. On the other hand, they did make mention of Sawamura’s female childhood friend, yet he was not the one that was really talking to her most of the time, it was his teammates texting her on his behalf. I feel like they do an all right job to touch up on things once they are re-introduced, but this is something that should have been pivotal during the very first half to the series, you cannot immediately drop something that the entire opening episodes focused on as a focal point.
The immediate motivation once he joins the team is everyone wants to go to “Nationals”, meaning that they want to be the baseball representatives for their division’s tournament. Basically, this means they have to win their specific tournament to go to a nation-wide high school baseball tournament featuring the representatives of other districts and divisions, this is no small feat to say the least since you have to be undefeated in order to attend. We see how the team begins to grow and adjust due the things that they encounter over the current summer baseball season. Wins, near losses, hurt players, fatigue, position changes, and much more will effect the mentality and state of players, and also how things pan out overall. I feel like they gave a very good sense of “hunger” from all the players involved within the series, setting a concrete objective makes it easier for the viewer to identify with what everyone is striving for, and also makes disappointments feel that much more real. This sense of longing for nationals creates atmosphere that is felt clearly when games are occurring.
The main conflict within this plot comes from the players’ abilities, errors when performing baseball plays, and adjusting to the other team’s skill set without being intimidated. A lot of the drama early on comes from a very pivotal injury which changes the course of how the summer is suppose to go, which also acts as the main plot twist which enables Sawamura to grow on the baseball team. However, as opponents begin to vary and those they oppose grow significantly more difficult to deal with, he begins to see an evolution of the team, but not without many of them questioning both their ability to function in their desired position and to win.
The singular objective of the plot for the team, as well as the individual goal of the main character, makes Ace of Diamond really easy to follow. The execution of how they arrive at their destination is done in a concise and timely manner, save for some integral parts which drag on longer than they need to, but is justified by the end of those arcs. The ride overall was really good and the simplified goal is good enough to constantly remind us the objectives of everyone involved while allowing us to focus on the characters themselves.
Character Development & Impressions
Ace of Diamond has gone above and beyond any series I have seen to date with the way that they reveal the back stories of the players involved within the series. Both those who are apart of Seido and the opponents that they face are given unique back stories and show different developments to arrive at where they are currently at. While some could argue that revealing so much about opponents and each and every individual character is time consuming and could be seen as “filler”, I find it helps with identifying why someone is particularly strong in a certain area and makes their struggles more real.
To start off, I want to talk about the main character’s development. Sawamura is shown throughout the series as honing his skills to become better at what he is doing, at the same time he has also shown a complete change in mentality when it comes to certain things involving how he views his teammates as well as baseball. As far as honing his skills, he better utilizes the skill set he has naturally, making sure his moving fast ball is a weapon that the team can rely on. At the same time, Eijun has also learned some new skills in order to bring out the best of his moving fast ball while capitalizing on his aggressive play style. His thinking towards the sport as a whole has moved from thinking he has the burden of carrying his whole team, to realizing he only has to do his best while relying on his reliable teammates to finish the rest. Though, towards the end of the first season we also see the eerie side effects of what cracking under pressure can lead to, making for the second season to be more about overcoming adversity.
His teammates have showed tremendous growth through use of their back stories, particularly the Third Years. Showing how they started off as First Years only makes the viewer want them to win even more. Progression is key within any series, you grow closer to characters and learn to love them by watching them overcome their demons and rise to levels they may have thought they could not achieve. Every single individual upon Seido’s starter team has had their own shortcomings that they have had to make up for, personal doubt they have had to knock away, and hard work they have had to put in to achieve the result they have desired. The entire reason why this show is lovable in the first place is that it gives so much attention to detail when addressing characters.
Developments of opponents is also done remarkably well. They do it in a similar fashion as when discussing Seido’s players, but to a much more condensed extent. They are sure to go through their own training regimen, how they arrived at the point they are at, and the hopes and dreams they are fighting for. Sometimes you cannot help but to feel for them because of what they have had to endure to get to that point, but you also understand well that every game has to have a winner and a loser, no other way around it.
The only thing I really did not like was how they did not show much development for the team’s four female managers that help the players out. The head coach of Seido is not really given a back story, but he is shown working for everyone and it was talked about how he did play baseball and gave up being a pro to come and coach. However, we do not know anything about the female managers besides the fact that they love helping out the players and will do what it takes to help them gain victory. We are shown they are appreciated when they are given jerseys, thanked by the players they are supporting, and how they are complimented by opposing teams at times.
Overall, I think that Ace of Diamond did a damn good job when it came to developing its characters into unique individuals, each with something specialized about who they are but heading towards a singular goal. The only thing I did not like about how it developed their characters was how they sometimes dedicated an entire episode to each one of them, limiting exactly how far we could get into a current arc without it feeling like a “flash back” of sorts, even if it was giving new information. The end does justify the means, as you get to learn about everyone on the team and it aids rooting for Seido as a whole.
Baseball is a sport that I have only gotten to really play once. I participated in a joint boys and girls league when I was in the 6th grade with my little sister. I always loved the game because everyone had a chance to be equally important when it came to batting, and I loved throwing and catching the ball. I have never gotten a chance to play it again because I am from a low income neighborhood where the only sports really available to play were football and basketball, baseball was just not something they really cared about. I always had fond memories of the time I had played baseball, but to be honest, I did not know much about the sport.
Ace of Diamond does a good job of explaining loads of terms I was unfamiliar with about baseball. Things like different types of breaking balls, what a pick off is, the advantages of pitches against opposite and same-side batters, and even some situations where someone should “cover” particular bases dependent on where the balls flies after being hit by a better. There is so many things that I learned from this anime that has helped me when I watch actual baseball, I have even become a fan of my home team, the “Rangers”. I really think that anyone who wants to learn exactly how baseball works will really like this series and the knowledge that it gives those of us who love the sport but are ignorant of exactly how it works.
STRENGTHS – Excellent character development, Teaches baseball as you watch, Impressive story progression, Awesome animation, 75 episodes means lots to watch in its first season.
WEAKNESSES – Some games take too many episodes to finish, Some character development episodes feel like fillers, Sometimes takes too long to get back to the main character.
Ace of Diamond is one of my favorite anime of 2014. I absolutely loved every aspect of this series and how they go so in-depth with what baseball is all about. I loved the character development, the diversity in the characters, and the levels of baseball they portrayed as far as how teams played comparatively. They do their best to make every interaction exciting and that every match-up would present its own challenges, and each team that Seido faces boasts its own strengths. While I felt like somethings were dragged out longer than they needed to, nothing really felt like much of a filler (Seido’s final game kind of did in some parts, however). I feel like everything flowed pretty smoothly until the end, and I feel like everyone, opponents included, were represented well.
This anime also gives out enough knowledge that those who do not know anything about baseball would be able to learn along the way in order to truly enjoy the plays made in the anime and could transfer that into the real world. By the end of the anime you know exactly what they meant as far as positions, such as the “Three-Hole”, “Clean Up”, or “Lead Off”, you even know what different pictures are, such as the “Cutter”, “Change-Up”, or “Knuckle Ball”.
This anime is something I would recommend for anyone who likes sports anime, but also likes anime that focuses upon friendship, growth, and adaptation to harsh situations. I think anyone who gave this anime a chance would be instantly drawn into it, and that they would find each of the characters enjoyable in their own ways. I am anxiously awaiting for season 2!