Wakabayashi, Roberto, Anego and Misaki’s joint pep talk at the start of this episode, while both rousing and effective, contains a fatal flaw: at no point, not even once, does anyone slap Tsubasa. Surely, in such a slap-happy series, they could have spared one meagre bitchslap for this pivotal moment. I find this oversight to be utterly unacceptable and I shall most certainly be sending a strongly-worded letter to Yoichi Takahashi to have him redraw the scene. I’m hoping he’ll change it in time for David to add it into the BD release.
Honestly though aside from that moment at the start, I was barely paying attention to Tsubasa. He scored, sure, but I only care insofar as it prolongs this rollercoaster of a match. Fuck Tsubasa, there’s high-octane medical emergencies going down. Even Hyuga is more entertaining to me right now, and he’s been unconscious the entire episode.
Also, the look of utter contempt Misugi’s dad gives his mother when she suggests having him benched: yikes. He doesn’t even need to go on an incoherent rant about women not understanding honour, it’s written all over his face. And if honour means letting your son die for an under-13s football semi-final, maybe he’s right, because I don’t understand that at all.
I know I talked about this a lot last time, but I still truly do not get how the people concerned for Misugi’s wellbeing over his ego (Yayoi, Mama Misugi, his coach) are portrayed as being in the wrong. I totally get the perspective of Misugi himself – he’s a talented kid with a flair for the dramatic who’s prepared to die if it means having last great outing in the sport he loves. He’s being super extra but I can see why it’s life or death in his little 11-year-old brain. But why is it life or death for his Misugi Sr, a grown-ass man who should know better? My theory is that Misugi has inherited his heart condition from his father, who was forced to give up a promising sporting career due to his illness and now he’s an unfulfilled salaryman who wishes he’d died vying for greatness instead of marrying this stupid bitch whose tiny woman brain can’t even comprehend what it’s like to have a dream. All he can do is live vicariously through his son, the Young Noble of the Field, the Glass Ace, if you will (yep, Misugi’s got two nicknames now and they’re the two best nicknames in the entire series by a mile. I think you will all agree that he fully deserves this distinction).
I sort of have a love/hate relationship with injuries in this series but David definitely pushes me further into the “love” camp, what with the pacing issues being cleaned up. In a way I love and miss injured/ill players staggering around the field half-dead for 5+ episodes (anyone who’s seen the third nationals final in the original series will understand what I’m talking about), but… how do I describe it? On a surface level, it’s often excruciating, especially when you’re binging like me instead of watching week to week, but it’s such a weird and frustrating choice (imagine being on that writing staff) that you sort of start to enjoy it conceptually. Or I do at least, but I’m an anime masochist. Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that David manage to strike the right balance with the injuries in the 2018 version. There are still plenty of people falling all over the pitch refusing to be subbed out, but they’re doing it for a much more reasonable amount of time. I’m glad this match is getting the time it deserves, too, particularly considering how rushed the last few have been. It’s absolutely one of my favourites in the entire series, hands-down.
Having said that, let’s move on to the thrilling conclusion (try to look shocked when Tsubasa wins)!
Oh boy, look at this, Nankatsu managed to score two last-second goals to win their place in the finals. I am so very surprised. I always have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it obviously had to happen, but on the other hand, I just don’t think Tsubasa deserved it as much as Misugi. Not just because he’s dying and shit, but because he was, without doubt, the better player in that particular match, both in terms of skill and spirit (although the show, in its defence, entirely acknowledges this). But Tsubasa cares not for such trifling matters. All he does is win. To be fair though, if you think about it, there’s absolutely no physical way Misugi could have participated with Musashi in the finals after this slog of a match. Hyuga would literally have murdered him with no hesitation whatsoever. We all know he’s not above aiming his shots at Misugi’s heart. That’s one less competitor to worry about. Spin-off where Hyuga gets shipped off to a juvenile correctional facility and puts together a football team when?
But really, even if Tsubasa himself wasn’t exactly on top form for the day, Nankatsu as a whole definitely performed better than average, so it’s not like it’s a totally unmerited win or anything. Plus I’m a big fan of the increasingly contrived situations they put Tsubasa in so that he has to break out the ol’ overhead kick. It’s like they have a per-match quota they need to fill or something. Also, I forgot to mention them before but I love Misugi’s fangirls in the audience, they remind me of Gary Oak’s cheerleaders.
Another aside regarding the scene on Tsubasa’s dad’s ship: I am just about willing to believe that this tournament is televised in Japan, but why on earth would it be live streamed for everyone else in the world to watch? Granted, I don’t know much about the ins and outs of the worldwide youth football community, but it seems like a stretch to me.
Anyway, after the end of the semi-final match, the rest of the episode is devoted to finals setup, which is not the most exciting thing in the world but it has to be done. I do like the pre-match stadium scenes, though. Ishizaki’s embarrassing mom gets to be embarrassing for a couple of seconds which is always a delight and Meiwa’s fashionably late entrance to the match is beautiful – Hyuga’s pose is straight out of JoJo. I think he might be the character they’re having the most fun with. I get the feeling the staff are bigger fans of him than Tsubasa (but really if there’s anyone out there who does actually prefer Tsubasa over Hyuga, at least in the early arcs, I would recommend they seek immediate professional help). I am very excited to watch this match again. The two Wakas are in goal, the gang’s all here, and it’s anyone’s game. Straight from one great match to another – I think this show is really starting to hit its stride.