Manga of the Month: Ace of the Diamond

Ace of the Diamond by Yuji Terajima

I can go on for a long LONG time about how much I love Ace of the Diamond. That podcast is a spoiler minefield by the way. Yet, I haven’t put that love into writing here on the blog before. In fact, the only time I talked about it on Reverse Thieves proper, I wasn’t actually very taken with it. It is a series with a slow roll; after giving it a second chance, I discovered it pays off big time.

Eijun wasn’t planning on playing baseball seriously, he just wanted to spend time with his friends. But after he is invited to see a major high school team’s practice, everything changes. He gets to pitch a few, piss nearly everyone off, and gets recruited thanks to star catcher Miyuki and coach Kataoka.

Eijun, however, is not the ace of the Seido baseball team. He dreams it. He wants it. But he isn’t it. You might think it is obvious that Eijun will become the ace, but the series has a lot of uncertainty. As I see it, there are many aces of the diamond because this, as with all good sports series, is about a team and not a single player. Different moments have different aces.

At first, Eijun is hard to like. He begins the series as a sincere baseball lover but also a bullheaded jerk. More than likely you’ll be like me and become very passionate about the stories of catcher Miyuki, captain Yuki, injured Chris, the Kominato brothers, and the many other players. However, Eijun, for all his flaws, learns so much in the early parts of the series thanks to the stellar cast. It doesn’t take too long (but certainly more than a couple of volumes) for him to realize the error of his ways and start down his true path.

And finally what keeps me glued to Ace of the Diamond for the long haul is the emotional resonance. The series is top-notch when it comes to showing the determination and heart of the Seido team. I have cried harder, cheered louder, and raged more fiercely when it comes to Ace of the Diamond than I have for any other sports series.

So you may not like Eijun at first. And the series is more than 50 books and climbing (Ace of the Diamond is 47 book, Act II is 8 and ongoing). But I am here to tell you that it is absolutely worth the investment.

I’ve been beyond elated with the recent offerings of sports manga in English. Ace of the Diamond is another series that is getting a digital release which is a great way to go with these long-running series.


Fate/Apocrypha #07: Castle Crashers

hisui_icon_4040_round I praised the last episode for sort of being the ideal mix of what people like about Fate episodes when they are firing on all cylinders. You have a good mixture of lore, characterization, and action that all complement each other in a way that makes the whole stronger than its parts. They all help prevent the show from either feeling ponderous or vapid. When people praise Type-Moon shows it is for episodes like that one. The problem is when people slag on Type-Moon shows they usually bring up episodes like this one.

This is entirely a setup episode for the first full on Red vs. Black battle. That means a lot of people having chats in throne rooms and gardens or while eating food. The small amount of combat that occurs is just to wrap up the interesting parts of the last episode. As a die-hard Type-Moon fan, I tend to get a good deal of enjoyment out of episodes like this while I admit they are far less exciting. They are the workmen episodes of Fate/Apocrypha.

In the defense of episodes like this, I would point at the current season of Game of Thrones. In previous seasons people loved the writing but often complained that pace seemed a bit too glacial. While there were major plot developments and shocking events it often seemed they were too few and far between in the sea of setup. Season Seven of Game of Thrones is blazing by at a breakneck pace. Every episode is nothing but plot point after plot point. The problem is to get that rapid pace of development characters all seem to have gained either the ability to teleport or found Seven-league boots off-screen. In return for their amazing speed, they make some silly and out of character decisions. The complaints about the pace being too deliberate have disappeared but a whole slew of new complaints have taken their place.

Episodes like this are important connecting tissue. They are far from glamorous but they enhance the flashy episodes when they appear. When they are done correctly they make the big fights and the huge reveals far more compelling. The best of these episodes can stand eye to eye with an action filled episode but even when they are not in the top form they have an important job of holding together the show in a rather thankless fashion.

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Otakon 2017: General Impressions

hisui_icon_4040_round This was a critical year for Otakon. Their attendance numbers have gone down ever since they announced they were leaving Baltimore. On top of that the year a convention moves they always experience a drop since they lose some long time local attendees who are rarely equaled out by fresh blood in their new home. A good number of people take a wait and see approach just to make sure the convention does not implode in the new location before they start going again. While this year could have been a disaster that Otakon could have recovered from it would have been a wound that would have taken years to recover from. A good 2017 would put them on the fast track for recovery. Many of fence sitters (and their friends) could be swayed by a great debut year.

Thankfully Otakon was able to pull off an amazing transition year. Did everything go smoothly? Certainly not. They had the normal mix of standard convention mishaps you would have even at most stalwart of locations alongside some inevitable problems you always get from any change of venue. That said it went about as well as a move could go. I think they really hit the ground running in DC and proved the move was a much-needed and appreciated change. While the road to this transition was rough I think it will benefit the convention and the attendees in the long run.

At this point, I could be accused of getting ahead of myself with this introduction. You usually save a sentiment like this for the conclusion. In this case, we are going to have a lot of people reading this review just to see if Otakon pulled off the move. I think it did so brilliantly. Anyone who just wanted a simple yes or no was probably just going to skip to the end anyway. Everyone else probably wants the initial verdict and then the reasons why we came to that conclusion. The best conclusion would be some ways that Otakon could up its game to be even better for their big 25th anniversary.

narutaki_icon_4040_round A move could result in a disastrous first year even for the veteran staff of Otakon. However, I’m happy to report that Otakon’s debut in Washington DC was anything but a disaster. (OK, that unexpected waterfall in artist alley on Saturday night would count as a disaster.)

From lines to where events were in the convention center, the staff did a masterful job in the new space. There were some minor adjustments after Friday, and at con feedback they already said somethings will be shifting around in 2018, but overall there was a enough room for everyone and everything.

As someone who didn’t really want to leave Baltimore, I have to admit that I quickly became an evangelical for DC after a single day.  Continue reading