What can you do when you have a coach that's good for the team but not for the players?
What They Say
The coach invites Aoba to the team's batting practice. When Ko, Akaishi and Nakanishi hear of it, they go over to confront Daimon. Aoba is getting warmed up when she starts striking out the varsity batters. But when Azuma steps up, she may be too tired...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When it comes to coaches, reputation is certainly important and Coach Daimon has come into the school with quite a reputation behind him. Akaishi, Ko and Nakanishi all converse about his past and we learn that Daimon has had quite a track record over the last few years as he's led four teams to great success before moving on to something else. His last one ended with some kind of disturbance that involved fighting among students and people being reported, so he's definitely a bit darker in tenor this time around than one might suspect he was in the past. But you can also easily tell that he's a harsh man when it comes to the game and what he wants to impart.
With the reputation he has, there's also the knowledge that those he coached rarely went on to be anything else afterward. A few made it to the pro level but because of how he coached them in high school, he essentially burned them out. That has our trio uncertain of how they want to interact with him, but Akaishi floats the intriguing idea of just removing him from the picture entirely. Watching how Daimon coaches is fairly standard, a kind of stern distance that he uses on the players, and they react with a touch of resentment to their expression. They do follow what he instructs though because of his reputation but some of that comes from the fact that he'll cut you in an instant if you aren't living up to what he feels you can do.
Daimon does do some things a little differently, but it also cements a strong dislike for the man from our main trio. Daimon's brought in Aoba to do some pitching against the high school batters but it's revealed that he's done it just to have someone to throw, not for any real training or intent to use her for anything. In fact, Daimon even tells Ko and the others that the Portables will never play in an official game and that he's not cultivating them as a "farm team." The only reason for the Portables is to be used for the training and betterment of the varsity players, a blunt truth that Daimon has no problem in telling them so that they're clear about their position on the team.
It's really not hard to dislike the man to say the least.
Ko's secret talent of mimicking voices comes out to good effect as we see him push back gently against the varsity team manager, a snobbish girl who is all about looks and status. Cross Game does a really solid job of working Daimon into the show at this point and making it clear both why he's a good coach and a bad coach. A good deal of information is brought through in exposition that's nicely done and we also get to see that he has no problems in explaining to the players who is useful to him and who is not. Of course, we'll see that he can misjudge as well, such as with Aoba, but that just helps to paint him as a little more human. There's a lot to like here and I particularly enjoyed how Ko and his friends are making their own plans to take over the team in some for while also making sure that Aoba is as protected as can be, while still making sure she's not treated daintily. It's hard to believe we've gone through seven episodes already as it's covered so much ground and has become so completely engaging from the start. I'm already dreading the end of this series.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.