This Koshien is Sawamura’s last chance to plat at Koshien with Miyuki and who’s blocking the mound? Furuya, obviously. Act II started off by praising Furuya more than ever and getting more and more time by that assh*ole coach, who loves his own personal wunderkind so much. Just great. Even though Sawamura worked so hard and achieved so much, Furuya is praised to heavens for every little thing and is the king of the mound. After only 4 chapters Act II is already pissing me off more than Act I was for a pretty long time actually.
I guess what’s pissing me off so much is that instead of making progress, we’re actually going backwards right now. You don’t always need the Pince of Tennis- like genius who stands above them all, not at all. You also don’t need the likable rookie that you see in Baby Steps, who slowys clibs his way up and makes tons of friends with all kinds of other players – inclusing those who’re better than him and he learns from them. He doesn’t really has an archrival like Sawamura does, so it’s less… “charged up” in general, I guess.
However, there is a manga with a somewhat similar setup and the genius archrival who rules them all and it’s done amazingly well. I admit I’m very biased, because frankly speaking, Slam Dunk by Takehiko Inoue is my faorite “classic” sports manga and I admit Takehiko Inoue is my favorite Mangaka, but Slam Dunk is incredibly well written. And guess what? It’s not even nearly as frustrating as Ace of Diamond is.
The reason is rather simple. Sakuragi, the main character, has never played basketball before, he’s a rookie and way too full of himself. Rukawa deserves all the praise he gets and Sakuragi does not. However, as he grows stronger, Sakurai’s talent and achievements are met with appropriate praise by his team-mates and his coach. Obviosuly, Rukawa still has his fanclub and is the ace and everything, but Sakuragi grows into a well deserved and valuable member of the team. The entire team grows and the manga makes a much bigger effort to develop Sakuragi as a character, compared to much time is spent showing Rukawa in the spotlight.
As for Sawamura, he’s very likable from the start and you know he has a huge potential as a pitcher, combien that with his wish to become the ace of the team, a very realistic dream, you root very strongly for him from the start. Even more so after his first encounter with Miyuki. Sakuragi on the other hand is so laughably bad, his jealously against Rukawa is absurd, because he’s no match for him at all. You root for him, but he’s not a good character and on the field, he literally has nothing to prove himself with. He earns every single ounce of respect by hard word and this is met with appropriate acknowledgement by the other characters and the reader.
Diamond no Ace is already 400+ chapters long, by now, Sawamura should have moved up, but instead re recenly seems to drift farther away than ever. This is very hard to stomach teasing. Sawamura needs the number of the ace during this tournament, because this is Miyukis last tournament. We’re running out of time.
Still, Diamond of Ace is a great sportsmanga and I still celebrate every single time Miyuki walks through a panel (I love that devil), but after 400+ chapters, I really want Sawamura to come visiably closer to his dream.