Episode 16 — Only After You’ve Won is my much anticipated follow-up to the amazing episode we had before it. I was quite disappointed that Seido did not get the win, but that is more realistic with how many runs they were down and the situation of their batters really struggling against Amihisa’s sliders, curveballs, and well placed fastballs. I feel like this episode was serious, but it was also a learning point for Coach Kataoka and I feel everyone will view our main character differently going into the much-more important Summer Tournament.
One thing I noticed about this episode from the very beginning was a recap on Sawamura when he was praised by Takaoka; this was something I explained in the previous episode impression as a show of guilty conscious and a failure to be equal to all players. Immediately Sawamura knew that he would have been swapped out way sooner if he was pitching how Furuya did, realizing that their numbers (Sawamura – 18 | Furuya – 1) were entirely different and that is the trust given to an Ace versus one given to the relief pitcher. Performing well is magnificent, but I believe their loss and Kataoka’s late swap will add more fuel to the fire for Sawamura to double-down on his techniques to become someone that is unquestionably meant to be Seido’s Ace.
Something this episode attempted to do was use humor so that this episode did not feel so dark; Sawamura getting his head patted by the entire team, his interaction with Amihisa, and even the entire collective reaction of Seido to the double he pulled off from his first at-bat. However, something that made the character of Sawamura feel real is his anger from the actions of the coach which confirmed that Furuya was more important within his eyes, and possibly the team, than he was as a relief pitcher. I especially felt his rage when Eijun asked Kataoka to close out a game and instead he gave it to Furuya, as he said it was his responsibility as the Ace to do so.
One of my overall favorite pitchers is the sidearm Kawakami, I liked how he made snide comments to Furuya about Sawamura’s intensity and pitching in a passive-aggressive sense. I love how he acknowledges, and probably always has, recognized Sawamura as an integral part of Seido, even if we are only talking about his attitude towards baseball to lift the entirety of the team’s morale in bad situations.
The Summer Tournament is the next big event happening and I am curious as to how this particular moment will change things for the anime; will Seido finally make Sawamura the Ace? Will they go back to utilizing a consistent rotation where Furuya does not get as much limelight? This to me shows a drastic turning point within Ace of the Diamond that will provide us with more Sawamura going forward (hopefully). Cannot wait for the Summer Tourney and the growth we get to see from our main character in the meantime!