Gurazeni – Episode 9
Gurazeni brings us yet another interesting side of Japanese culture and the pro baseball world this week. At first it was a bit difficult to get into this episode because the relationship between Bonda and his senpai Kuriki, another pitcher, feels a little uncomfortable at times. I soon realized this was probably deliberate considering what Kuriki’s development as a player means for Bonda’s future.
Through some flashbacks we get a summary of different times at which Bonda has gotten advice from Kuriki. Before Kuriki retired he had the same position that Bonda has now, so he feels like he has a sort of duty to school Bonda and Bonda feels that he has a duty to listen to his seniors. The advice range from running a lot to strengthen lower body and improve pitching control to weight-lifting to improve pitching speed, but even if they both are valued due to their good control, these two pitchers can’t let go of speed. Pitchers who can pitch fast are very much revered in the pro world, it seems.
Now Kuriki has retired at 30 and he works as a batting practice pitcher and as a scorer. He’s been getting used to his new positions and he’s been figuring out some stuff regarding pitchers and batters lately. I must say that they did a pretty great job in this episode to portray a range of emotions on Bonda’s face this time around. Like when he seemed king of reluctant and distrustful of his Kuriki’s advice, it was priceless! Either way Bonda feels in a bind, based on experience his senior’s advice has always been questionable at best, but he also feels like this time around it could work out after all.
It’s also funny that the guy seems to give this superior aura of a know-it-all, probably trying to impress his junior, but his lack of proper results just make the whole situation laughable and a bit sad. Bonda is right in considering him both his teacher and his cautionary tale as Kuriki’s current state of being retired at 30 could be where Bonda ends up if he’s not careful.
Despite all the cautious thinking Bonda does and his annoyance at Kuriki’s ways of just trying to rehash existing strategy moves, he still follows his senior advice and soon enough he gets some good results. Another thing I appreciated in this episode was the fact that Bonda emphasizes the fact that when you’re getting good results people give you positive feedback to encourage you to continue on that path, but while saying this, I’d say it’s obvious that he’s coming from a place that is still not all-convinced of this being his best course of action after all.
Eventually, despite all the positive results, once he faces off against a powerful batter (one we previously met in episode 6 and who Bonda defeated then), he ends up getting hit spectacularly and he realized that he shall go back to his previous ways of prioritizing control over speed when it comes to his pitching. It was definitely interested how there was focus on the fact that giving priority to one of this necessarily affects the other quite a lot and each pitcher will probably have a different combination of what they prefer to what degree.