Starting this series was an impulsive decision while I was on a sports anime binge. I don’t regret it at all. Even though I’ve never watched a real baseball game and the sport is virtually non-existent in my country, I quickly grew to like it.
*Contains NO spoilers*
Characters - 9/10
Its dynamic characters are Diamond no Ace’s (DnA) strong suit. They're all unique - in character design, personality, and purpose in the show. I fell in love with most of them from the first season and that never changed in this one. This show just has a knack for making you admire the players' efforts and camaraderie.
The start of this season was bittersweet for me because the third years (who I loved and named my cats after) would shortly make an exit. Was I worried that DnA: Second Season wouldn't be able to fill the resulting hole in my heart? Yes. But they compensated for the loss by doing something that I've always wanted this show to do. It upped the focus on the non-First String players. With our favourite seniors gone, these guys had big shoes to fill and the opportunity to make their senpais and coach proud. Even if they didn't make the team, some characters still contributed significantly to it (in ways I won't spoil). DnA has a huge cast so it was refreshing to finally see side characters get some screen time.
Concentrating more on Seido's side characters altered the cool way they presented side characters from the last season. In the first season, everyone had personality. Sometimes after learning the stories of opposing teams and their players, I wasn't sure who I wanted to win a match. Above all, each coach had a unique, adorable quirk. This time around some side characters just felt like cardboard. They could have done much more with Raichi in particular, who spent 65% of his screen time laughing asininely. It would have also been best to give less screen time to the pair of journalists covering the games.
Art - 7/10
The animation was pretty good. My only qualms are that some scenes could have been done more fluidly with less (loooong) freeze frames and split panels to make certain bits of the game more exciting. Diamond no Ace (DnA) gets it right at key points during game play but not consistently throughout it. Even when the more artsy root is explored (for example: adding auras or other elements to a character/scene at crucial parts in the game), it fails to be compelling. The series makes up for it in the more humorous scenes, featuring chibi forms of characters, and the result is HILARIOUS and CUTE!
Sound - 5/10
The sounds effects were lacking. Some sounds were overused (constantly reused), which made hearing them more of a nuisance than something that improved the atmosphere of a scene. I grew tired of the random "ping" that they used during tense scenes, split frames or when a ball was hit. Plus, hearing that ONE track introduced whenever the game picked up (if you watched season 1, you know what I'm talking about) frustrated me. The soundtrack needed more diversity. I would have also appreciated hearing a common cheer that I could chant along with the team/crowd, like the crowd does in Haikyuu!!.
Now for the good: the opening and ending themes were enjoyable. Never skip them.
Story - 9/10
The story's pretty straightforward. A baseball team that missed out on nationals in the previous season tries again to achieve their ultimate goal. The journey to nationals isn't as straightforward though. You'll enjoy seeing the team members and coach develop throughout the season. Why? Because of the support they afford each other and the challenge that certain opponents pose. This is not the story of an OP MC. It's an authentic tale about the benefits of healthy rivalry, tenacity and teamwork.
As a complete novice to baseball, I appreciated how explanations of pitches and plays...basically of anything baseball were easily incorporated into the story-line in a non-overbearing way. My only issue is with the directing; the pacing was horrible sometimes. Some games were far too long. The LITTLE plot development accomplished in one episode would annoy you. For me, that dulled the excitement. But, with the anime now complete, you might feel differently about that particular aspect. You won't have to wait one whole week to see that barely nothing in the game changed!
OVERALL: Watch it. Not only is this a good anime but you also learn worthwhile lessons from it. Some lines make great inspirational quotes. For example:
"Doing the same boring thing over and over every day will surprisingly give you strength when it really matters. I want to live an easier life...but...life doesn't work that way."