Gurazeni – Episode 11

Once again Gurazeni comes around this week with quite a charming episode. As I told a commented last week, I pretty much gave up on the idea of the young woman from the opening and ending credits to show up by now, so Gurazeni will definitely end up disappointing viewers that didn’t adjust those expectations early on, but as a show that shows some sides of adult and professional life in Japan, even if fictionalized, I’d still say it’s pretty enjoyable.

The three games with the Setouchi Carnabeats have the team travel from Osaka to Hiroshima. Bonda is really excited as he gets access to watching a TV show from a local channel that features one of the players from the Carnabeats, Haratake Hiromi. Soon enough I find out why as the segment is really funny and quirky, this is a great introduction for Haratake who is the most entertaining character so far in the show besides Bonda!

It turns out he’s been a pro for 14 years, he’s currently 32 and he has a contract of 29 million, which seems quite generous for a middle reliever pitcher, but he says himself he’s not much of an athlete. I found the duality of his TV persona and his real life demeanor really funny too as he plays this super aggressive ‘banchou’ delinquent-type character, but he really seems to be more laid-back in person. He and Bonda have a nice rapport and treat each other like they’re on friendly terms and Bonda openly admits he really admires Haratake and soon we learn why.

Hatarake has quite a bit of fame due to his TV show and public persona, but he also has particularities that make him well-known in the baseball world, the fact that he has ‘no pitch’ a lot of times, as in he can’t really decide on an effective strategy so he wings it a lot, but things end up more or less falling into place. It’s obvious to the viewer and the crowd that Hatarake struggles to perform his job properly. His pitches aren’t very good, so he takes a long time deciding, but he has good instincts against batters and although it’s hard to imagine why he’s been a pro for so long seeing that weak part of his performance, it’s still pretty impressive to see him pull off a feat with his attitude of faking it through and suddenly giving up and not caring about results and getting a breakthrough.

Still, Bonda can’t help himself and he ends up getting some glory by batting a home run that gave the Spiders the winning run! In a game with the rare sight of the middle reliever pitchers squaring against each other at bat, Bonda was able to strike out a distracted Hatarake. I really liked the fact that they made it seem like Bonda was able to get that homerun precisely because he admires Hatarake, because they are both middle reliever pitchers and because he understands him. I can’t but imagine Bonda would feel both excited and guilty about being responsible for sending Hatarake down to the juniors, but it’s also a contest of the pro baseball world being a harsh one!

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