Ep 11: The Beginning of Summer

 

Over a hundred teams wait intently for the first National High School Baseball Summer Tournament meeting. Sakaeguchi exclaims at how everyone is tall and big, including Hanai. Tajima assures him that there is still hope for them to grow. After all, they are still freshmen. The crowd overhears, stirring their curiosity. Suddenly, Sakaeguchi and Mihashi feel the urge to go to the toilet.

After relieving himself, Mihashi is asked to find some toilet paper for Sakaeguchi. Without luck finding any inside the bathroom, he tries to run off outside to get some when he bumps into someone and falls on the floor. When he looks up to apologize, he is shocked to see a familiar face—Haruna. Akimaru barges in and saves Mihashi from further scolding, much to Sakaeguchi’s relief. Afraid that Mihashi might have been injured, Haruna quickly lifts Mihashi and asks if he is alright. Seeing how Mihashi is fine, Haruna and Akimaru go about their business.

Mihashi blurts how he thinks Haruna is a nice person when he gets a call from Abe. Haruna corners Mihashi and asks whom he was talking to just now. With Mihashi in a panic, Sakaeguchi butts in, telling Haruna that it is the same Abe whom he worked with in SENIOR. Akimaru, knowing that it is their first time joining, wishes them luck. When asked about Nishiura’s pitcher, Mihashi reluctantly points to himself. Haruna then places his hand on Mihashi’s shoulder. With a smile, Haruna tells him that they should all do their best. Sakaeguchi breaks up this little moment, reminding Mihashi of his toilet paper dilemma. Akimaru volunteers to help and gets two rolls of tissue from the girl’s toilet, with the help of someone else inside.

In the meeting hall, after being seated, Sakaeguchi informs Abe of their chance meeting with Haruna. Mihashi gleefully reiterates how great a person Haruna is and shares what he said about doing their best. Abe is annoyed that Mihashi does not realize that Haruna was looking down on him. His mood quickly changes as he knows that once Haruna throws those 80 pitches, his team will lose for sure. The one who will emerge on top will be the pitcher he belittled—Mihashi.

The ceremonial music starts blaring and the meeting finally starts. The announcer invites the team captains to come up to the stage to do the lottery, which will decide their match-up for the first round. Mihashi, Sakaeguchi, and Izumi talk about the seeded teams. ARC gets the number 1 slot while Tosei, last year’s champion, takes 85. Looking around the hall, Mihashi realizes that there are still a lot of teams, players, and amazing pitchers that he does not know about. Mihashi wants to win and to experience that feeling of winning again. While waiting for their turn in lottery, Tajima tells Hanai to get #128, so they can go up against Musashino. Hanai is slightly anxious when Abe asked about his luck with lotteries. When Hanai makes his way to the stage, Abe encourages him to not give up, even if he sucks at lottery.

On stage, Hanai is impressed at the sheer massiveness of the board holding about 170 slots, indicating the number of teams participating. After Hanai hands out his lottery number, the hall bursts into applause as the official announces that Nishiura has gotten #85 and will face Tosei for the first round. Reporters corner Hanai, wanting to get a few words from the captain whose team will go up against last year’s champions.

Momoe quickly neutralizes Izumi’s pessimism over their match-up with Tosei. The others adhere her warning and keep their opinions of losing to themselves. Mihashi hopes for a chance of victory, since everyone, including himself, wants to win so badly. Tajima thinks that it is quite possible to win, shocking the others. Abe explains that most people would expect them to lose to Tosei, being an all-first-year team.

Tajima wonders if Abe is scared too. Abe answers that he is not because Tajima would surely score, given some work on the batting order. Abe compares how they had no data during their first game, but it is different now. Tosei has a lot of exposure. With good analysis on the batters and battery, along with solid defense, Mihashi should be able to seal the deal for them.

Momoe points out that the difference between the strong and weak teams is their time spent on practice. That is why Momoe wants to start practice at 5AM. With other clubs using the grounds in the afternoon, the best time to practice their offense and defense would be from 5PM to 9PM. The others are inspired in doing their best, seeing how Momoe is doing hers as well. The Tosei team is equally pumped as Kazumi declares that victory is theirs.

After a bit of chaffing between Tajima and Mizutani, a person comes over and asks Mihashi how the raffle went. Mihashi mistakenly answers that there were many people, though the person wanted to find out whom they would be up against. Mihashi reveals that it is Tosei, much to the person’s surprise. Tajima recognizes him to be Hamada, his classmate. Izumi thinks that it might be a case of mistaken identify when Hamada wonders if Ren is the same Mihashi he knew back then.

“I knew a Mihashi, we lived in the same apartment, though that place is gone now… Yamagishisou.”

“Gishigishisou!!!”

“That’s right! Gishigishisou! So, it is you! I wanted to ask you so badly in class! Ahh, I finally got it off my chest!”

It seems strange to Izumi for Mihashi to have lived in an apartment because his house is so big. Mihashi reveals that his parents eloped. Finally, Hamada asks Mihashi the million-dollar question: “Would it be alright if I, your friend from Gishigishisou, make a cheering squad for you guys?”

Thoughts

This episode was mostly uneventful since it only featured the lottery part of the summer tournament. Though, getting Tosei is quite an achievement. Nice going, Hanai! Also, a new character was introduced, Hamada!

Hamada, Tajima’s partner-in-crime?

I think the Nishiura team is only going to get crazier with him around, not to mention the heightened chance of BL potential. He is bubbly and energetic like Tajima, which is why I am expecting twice the mischief and antics. Though, Hamada would have been a good addition to the team. He has the bulk and height that is fit for a clean-up batter, I reckon. But heck, cheerleader? This should be interesting.

I loved how Tajima said that, “Mihashi is an idiot! He would not be able to remember a classmate’s face.” Tajima, Mihashi, Izumi, and Hamada are all in the same class.

Toilet funnies

I loved the toilet humor in this episode. Sakaeguchi’s butting in (pun intended) during Haruna’s conversation with Mihashi was simply priceless. If you were to imagine it happening in real life, it would be weird. Sakaeguchi’s voice is weird enough, add the awkward bathroom situation and you have a winner.

Japan National High School Baseball Tournament

Apparently, the tournament is a big deal over at Japan. There are two tournaments, an invitational held during spring and the open championships held during summers (Summer Koushien). Though, the latter is more popular because of the sheer number of teams joining. A lot of scouts come to see the different teams slug it out. It is said to be quite a spectacle. The games are televised both locally and nationally.

The first round match-ups and byes are decided with a lottery, like what they did in the anime. It is really quite fascinating reading about the high school baseball culture of Japan. If you guys have time, I’d like to recommend websites for further reading on the topic. The bit about the sacred dirt of Koushien is a must-read.

Further reading:
National High School Baseball Championship @ Baseball Reference
High School Baseball In Japan @ Wikipedia
National High School Baseball Championship @ Wikipedia
Kokoyaku Journal (Read the entry written on March 24, 2003 entitled “Greetings from Osaka”)