Hey friends and fellow ani-bloggers! Welcome to Archi-Anime’s stop on July’s blog tour.
July’s theme is: Mentor
“Throughout our lives, we might have encountered someone that we admired as a role model or has guided us in some life dilemma. This mentor could be a teacher at school, a coach, a boss or team leader at work, or a family friend. Whoever it is that person impacted your life in a positive manner. For this month’s OWLS topic, we will be writing about mentors or mentorships in anime and other pop culture media. Some topics we will be exploring include how a mentorship impacted a main character’s life, the types of mentor relationships a person could have, and/or personal stories about mentors or mentorships.”
When I thought about the topic, sports is what came first to my mind, and there were several mentor mentee relationships that I thought about and considered writing about. More often than not we see mentee’s choose their mentor’s because they were inspired by them; they wanted to be like them.
However, the more I thought about it, the more one stood out a bit more.
Today I want to talk about Eijun Sawamura and Chris Yu Takigawa of Ace of Diamond. This mentor, mentee relationship was more than just a mentee acknowledging the skills of their senpai. This relationship was actually akin to a two-way street. However, the road to get there was full of obstacles, of pride and stubbornness.
Eijun starts out as our typical shounen sports protagonist. He’s naturally talented, but has zero skill and finesse to make him a force to be reckoned with. He’s bold, brash and in your face. He’s also overwhelmingly positive in the face of adversity. He once had the opportunity to pitch to the team’s best catcher, a second year, Kazuya Mikyuki, which was a main factor for him to join this particular highschool as he wanted to form a battery with the former.
When Eijun makes the team and is finally allowed to practice, he’s not paired with Kazuya, as the coaches see it fit that he be paired with third year Chris, who is just a back-up pitcher. Eijun makes a big fuss about being paired up with Chris as there are rumors circling the latter about how he ruins peoples careers in baseball.
Communication is Key
Eijun is quick to assume that Chris isn’t serious about basketball and is content with just being on the second string. He even has the audacity to tell Chris that he’d never be like him; someone that’s given up and has settled for second best. Chris’ demeanor changes here, before he decides to agree with Eijun and says “Yeah, don’t be like me,” and walks away.
Eijun also believes that Chris is antagonizing him by giving him tons of regimented work-outs just to spite him, while Chris gets to leave practice early. Yet, he completes them despite his negative feelings towards it. Chris has yet to acknowledge Eijun because of his poor attitude to being paired with him.
During one of Eijun’s rant sessions about Chris’ ice-cold personality and his lack of passion, Kazuya gets really angry and tells him he doesn’t know anything. With that, Eijun suffers a rude awakening and is sent off to find out why Chris leaves so early from practice.
The Big Picture
Turns out, Chris’ life had revolved around baseball. He’s smart in creating plays, good in both defensive and offensive tactics. However, due to over-exertion Chris has a severely injured shoulder that has taken him out of the game for over a year. He’s undergoing rehabilitation for his shoulder, which is why he leaves practice so early. Chris was also the team’s best catcher prior to Kazuya taking his spot. How the entire team doesn’t realize this yet assumes and throws rumors around about him being cursed is beyond me.
Eijun feels rather foolish for assuming to have thought Chris was uninspired, as someone who was just passing time on the team. He gets pissed off at himself for being so callous. He apologizes to his senpai, and decides from there that he should just shut up and listen to his elder because his baseball foundation is non-existent.
He also later finds out that the regimented workouts were not just created to piss him out; but rather to strengthen his body and to prepare him to be the best version of himself, but more importantly were designed to help Eijun train in a way that would help him prevent injuries like Chris’.
Turning a New Leaf – Inspiration goes both ways
After those turn of events, Eijun does whatever he can to re-gain favor with Chris. Chris had done nothing but deserve respect from him. Even when Eijun was mouthing off and saying stupid things, Chris never corrected him, and just let him run his mouth. If the kid couldn’t work with him, then he wasn’t worthy of a mutual respect.
He follows Chris around and follows his training schedule religiously, even asking for more workouts for Chris to acknowledge him. Eventually his positivity and assertiveness break down Chris’ resolve, and this is when the duo’s relationships evolves into a mutual inspiration, gaining and learning from one another. Under his tutelage, Eijun’s pitching starts to grow and blossom into something that could be a formidable weapon.
image via crunchyroll
It’s important to note that throughout the beginning of the series and the development of their mentor mentee relationship that Chris was rather cold and is depicted to have a blank lifeless look in his eyes. It’s easy to see where Eijun’s misunderstanding of Chris’ passion lies – he had been off the first string for over a year under a managing capacity. while he recovered. But by helping train Eijun, the spark and desire to return to the field have sprouted again due to Eijun declaring that he wants to form a battery (a pitcher and cathcher combo) with Chris before he graduates, as proof to show that his teaching had not been in vain. It has be to be Chris because that’s his mentor, his inspiration, the one person that really has his best interests at heart. The desire to get back on field to play a game had never been extinguished, and it’s because of Eijun’s persistence and respect for him that he decides to get back on the field post-injury, even if it’s just for one game. His passion is re-ignited and you can literally find life being brought back to his eyes.
If there’s one thing to be learned is that sometimes mentors can be found in the least likely of people. That it’s important to be open to those that are willing to teach and advise you to get you where you want to be. That the mentee has just as much influence as a mentor does. Mentoring doesn’t have to be a one-way street, but is much more dynamic when one can learn more from the other.
That just about wraps up my July blog-tour! Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Let me know in the section below!
And look out for Carla’s post on her site: Pop Culture Literary
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