Gurazeni – Episode 7
The episode this week also covers the whole length of the episode time and it was quite an interesting one again! This time around we meet Tohko and Kitamura. Tohko is a junior league catcher who got promoted to the pro baseball league because one of the regular catchers got demoted and the other got injured. Kitamura on the other hand is a successful writer for a sports magazine and he seems to pick on Tohko constantly.
It turns out that these 2 are friends from college and there’s a bit of an awkward situation for them now. Tohko used to be a very well regarded player, a started in his team and he was actually the first pick of his draft, but Kitamura on the other hand was a second-string catcher.
Now their roles are reversed in real life, as Tohko is a junior league catcher with a contract of 5 million a year and who got promoted to pro league without contract increase and technically just out of luck. He’s also 31 which is quite up in the years and he could be forced into retirement if his contract isn’t renewed. On the other hand Kitamura is considered a top writer at his magazine and contracts for writers are estimated to reach 10 million per year.
As everyone would expect with Tohko being a catcher, at some point he gets to form a battery with Bonda. Kitamura warns him that Tohko is bad at game calling and, sure enough, later that night during the game a mistake by Tohka gives up a run and Bonda becomes frustrated. He ends up accidentally eavesdropping in a conversation with Kitamura and Tohka where Kitamura continues to put Tohka down about his skills and telling him to just retire. Tohka is unfazed by all this. You could argue that Kitamura is just jealous that Tohka still gets to play and he doesn’t, but at the same time Kitamura makes more money and is more recognized at his job, so it’s puzzling.
Soon enough we get an explanation: it turns out Kitamura’s family has a business and he’s been offering Tohko a position with a starting salary of his current contract! Bonda is blown away. Tohko has no intention of taking it up now, even though getting older hurts his prospects of maintaining that same salary offer in the long run because he should start as soon as possible in this new field. Bonda things is a great opportunity, although he doesn’t say and honestly, I do too.
Tohka has been in the juniors for a while, he’s not young and his contract might not go up. Eventually he’ll have to retire too and then he might not find a job that pays as much. If he took this one up now, then maybe in a couple years he’ll be even more comfortable.
But this is a story about baseball, not about making life-altering choices, so Tohko will have to prove he can stay in the pro league. He does as much in the second half of the episode where he shows he can actually throw to base-stealers and with good control at that. He also got the team a few runs and even batted a home run, all in one game, the one that will settle his new glory.
The one thing that stopped me from suspending my disbelief this episode was the fact that supposedly Tohko tricked everyone into believing his skills were bad on purpose. This is a really risky move and a selfish one that took the cuteness away from the situation. I would have enjoyed the end of Tohko’s story more if it hadn’t been for that.