Last episode I commented how the sudden rush to fit this match into only 13 episodes has caused this series to lose one of the things that made it so special: the incredible detail it put into its matches. But really, even without that, this sequel just has more than enough to make up for it. The pacing that suddenly turned fast here brought an entirely new dynamic to this series.
Seriously, if this sequel would have been 26 episodes long, it would have easily surpassed the first season. Here too however: the fast pacing made this an incredibly fun episode to watch; the creators cut the manga very skillfully to paste it into such a short time-frame: this series still is an truly excellent manga-adaptation. I really loved how this episode changed its mood so flexibly: one moment it’s cheerful, then it’s full of tension, then a bit of comedy is there, only to make way for a pitch that could severely change the outcome of the game. This episode was so full of different emotions that complemented and balanced each other out perfectly, and it was all as beautifully animated as ever.
Abe’s absence turned out to be quite an interesting twist here: Mihashi has to work together with a completely new catcher (and you can really see the two of them struggle to get warmed up to each other, and exchange theories). One thing I also love about this series is how often people score. I don’t exactly know how this usually goes in high school baseball, but it’s very refreshing to see these kinds of scores, as opposed to most other baseball series in which the pitchers are so god-moded that they end most of their matches with nearly a perfect game.
I originally did not like this condensation because of the first match of the second season. No offence, but it just wasn’t as good as the other matches. As it turns out though, it just was based on the weakest premise. For all of the other matches, some really interesting plot twists were planned to make them juicy, yet realistic, but there it was just average.
Adapting a manga correctly is often a matter of skillfully copying and pasting: what do you leave in, and what do you leave out to fit the time-frame? Ideally, you of course want the perfect amount of episodes for the story, but alas: anime’s business model just doesn’t fit that. I personally believe that it should be the role of the most successful and rich animation companies to start experimenting with the tried and true anime-format and go with new things. They’ve got enough money, so they should have plenty of resources to take such risks.
Rating: *** (Awesome)