Review by David Cirone
Harassment of the baseball club escalates as their clubhouse and classroom are vandalized by unknown enemies. Shinjo (Yu Shirota) tracks down the culprits and challenges the gang to a fight. Shinjo’s friends aren’t about to let their friend defend their honor alone, and they rush to his aid, but Kawato (Ryuta Sato) stops them first. He insists that they defend their club with honor, and designates the inevitable rumble as a “club training activity.”
Principal Murayama (Masato Ibu) has had enough, and he wants to expel the whole whole team, but Kawato takes responsibility and bravely challenges Principal to defend his students. Shinjo and Aniya still aren’t ready to commit, but Aniya’s getting fired up enough to coach the neighborhood kids.
The power of this episode is how it reveals the true essence of this team. You can see that these aren’t new relationships, but strong bonds that have been reawakened by a shared passion. There’s plenty of fun banter and some great comedy as they band together to “recruit” more players for the team. Even Kawato is coming back into his own, as he gains strength from the trust he’s built in these young, rough students.
Kawato knows that everyone’s waiting on Aniya, and fellow teacher Mayumi (Kazue Fukiishi) wisely points out that Aniya is the one who’s set his bar the highest. Aniya knows what it takes to win, and he won’t commit until he’s sure he won’t be let down again.