I think that if I did not know about the series’ plans to suddenly cut off the series at episode thirteen episodes, I would have absolutely loved this past arc. Still, even though knowing that this arc could have been God knows how much better, I still loved the way that the past match evolved. It really showed how much more interesting your plot can become with a lot of added realism.
In baseball, losing matches are two of a kind: the margin of loss is so small that it depends on just one pitch whether the team would have lost or won, or they’re matches that the main team would never be able to win off, making them lose by a huge margin. This episode however, falls in none of those categories. six versus eleven is a huge difference, and yet until the final pitch I kept thinking that there might be some way for them to get back, or at least close most of that distance. The final pitch here was nothing glorious: it wasn’t your hot blooded pitcher battle between the two most important characters of the game. Instead, it was against a guy who was so scared with the weight put on his shoulders that he only could have hit that ball by sheer luck.
In any case, I’m glad that, knowing the episode count, the creators reserved at least one episode for the aftermath. This episode definitely made a huge impact on the characters, and this doesn’t just mean Mihashi and Abe. The guy who was up at the final pitch also must be thinking very hard about the way he completely blocked back there.
I wish I could say that a potential third season could really make a lot of use of this development, but let’s not kid ourselves: there’s no way that there’s going to be a continuation for this series. I doubt that even the creators knew that this series would only get thirteen episodes, judging by the pacing, or otherwise they would have cut back on the slice of life episodes, or that first match. This series was incredibly lucky already to get a sequel and license. Heck, A-1 only made one other sequel before: Birdy the Mighty Decode, and that was because it clearly planned beforehand. Even their most popular series, Kannagi, hasn’t gotten a sequel, despite being nowhere near complete.
Rating: *** (Awesome)