12 Days of Anime – [7] Daiya no Ace

Sawamura Eijun will always be the ace of the Seidou baseball team in my heart for his spirit and potential, regardless of the actual number on his back. We’ve seen him grow with agonizing slowness and meet with extraordinary challenges instigated mostly by others, but also by himself. He redefined my definition for “ace” and continues to surprise me with his ability to adapt and stand tall in the face of adversity.

There are usually one or two people on a sports team others will unanimously voice as the best. Frequently, the votes coincide with highest scorer, or most senior teammate. That person may seem talented, and their effort not as frequent or forced as others. Eijun is neither the best nor the oldest. For the longest time, he could not even step on the pitcher’s mound. The surprising movement of his natural throw also revealed his complete lack of control. This inconsistency and unreliability made his dream for the ace position seem impossible. But if there are two things his teammates can say he excels at, it is his work ethic and his unflagging spirit.

In stark contrast, Furuya Satoru stands mostly alone. He wears the ace number, and leads the pitch in almost every game, but he is quick to depression and utterly selfish in his role. Yes, hunger for the mound is good, but not when it harms the pitcher’s judgement of the game and his influence on others. We have witnessed Furuya battle his own lack of endurance, particularly in the heat, as well as his own pride when opponents crush his best throws. The progress is slow, and I don’t think he has yet developed a mindset beneficial to the team as a whole.

Eijun fought to improve himself, and overcame the yips in his desire to lead his team to victory. He is greedy for the mount, but he does not sacrifice his team because of it. No one else runs as much as he, and no one cheers as loudly for the team no matter the score. Eijun has a beautiful gift for motivation; his upbeat attitude catches and brings everyone together, even when the prospect for success looks bleak. Go, go, Eijun! Seidou, fight-o! I’ll be waiting for you to make it to the final stage with my heart’s ace leading the line-up.

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