Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Hajime no Ippo: The Rising, Log Horizon, and Ace of the Diamond

Saturday’s slate is, as usual, packed. It’s also, in a less usual twist, clogged to the brim with sports. I’m saving Kuroko s2 for the nightcap, and for now going over the two adaptations of KMA-winning sports manga, old and new.

The 3rd season of Hajime no Ippo was a blast back to 10 years or so in the past, in the best possible way. I mean that two ways. First, it was a literal flashback episode, and a fairly deep-cutting one, at that. But the real big plus for me going in was the sound handling during the scenes when Ippo was waiting for his dad to come back; there was silence being used on-point and effectively, and the original Tsuneo Imahori beats were oh-so-back. The pacing was seriously fast, progressing almost immediately to the first match of the season. That pacing actually led to a kind of choppy feel for the second half of the episode, though, so I hope it can slow down a little bit. I had high hopes that this installment of the series will blow away New Challenger’s lackluster performance since I heard they got the original series’ sound director back, but I don’t feel totally comfortable with it so far. Even in a worst-case scenario, this is getting 2 episodes of time.

Log Horizon tried to do something, working a mass amnesia gimmick into the .hack.trapped-in-a-game premise. But it was also incredibly slow paced, and featured storytelling that was the opposite of gripping. I’ve seen numerous faster-moving intros in slice-of-life series, where such a thing isn’t really required. This one is a drop.

Since Ace of the Diamond’s strongest feature (the realistic management of a team with 4 flawed alpha dog pitchers) wasn’t going to show up in episode 1, I was on the lookout for how the anime would handle two things: Sawamura’s overly emotional personality and how that leads him to a difficult choice between baseball with his friends and baseball with a contender. Well, it’s a success on both counts; the anime did a really good job introducing Sawamura’s bond with his old team and the forces pushing him towards his new home at Seidou, and it did so in the slightly more grounded way that made the opening chapters of the manga stand out from the norm. I liked it a lot, and am giving the series 3 more episodes to keep the meat grilling.

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