At last, the Captain Tsubasa subs drought is over, and we’ve been blessed with a double release, no less. It feels like ages since I reviewed the last one. Anyway, let’s tear into it!

Episode 39

You may or may not remember that episode 38 ended with Tsubasa getting ready to do a drive shot. I had a feeling it would miss in the end. Is it just me or do the cliffhanger goal attempts pretty much never work out? I kind of found this end portion of the match to be a little boring and underwhelming compared to the preceding parts. Which, to be honest, is a problem I’m having with most of the matches that end in the first half of an episode. Most of the time it feels like they’re just trying to wrap things up as quickly as possible so that they can get to the real part of the episode. The animation isn’t as good, the flashy moves are mostly not present and toned down where they are, and Tsubasa pretty much always saves the winning goal for the last second. The formula can wear a little thin after a while, and it’s just a little bit disappointing that such an entertaining match fell at the last hurdle. Even so, there are still a couple of fun moments that I enjoyed, like Ishizaki’s face save. Ishizaki’s head is quite genuinely the only part of his body that seems to make any use of itself on the football pitch. And hey, whatever works I guess, but I guarantee that he’ll be facing serious brain damage down the line. Then again, it’s Ishizaki, so will anyone even notice?

I loved all the scenes with that super shady doctor as well. Tsubasa directly ignores his orders to avoid physical contact on the pitch (wow, who could have predicted this?) and goes around fucking launching himself off goalposts and charging into the Tachibanas shoulder-first, and he’s like “Ohoho, you little scamp, I’m going to have to treat you all over again aren’t I?”. He seems more concerned with shipping Tsubasa and Anego than actually keeping the players safe (to be fair, same, but that’s why I’m not a doctor). Does this guy even have a medical license? Also I know kids heal relatively easily compared to adults, but Tsubasa’s attitude towards injuries is mildly terrifying. If this were real life, the last hope of Japanese football probably would have ruined his body beyond all repair by 22. I’d love it if the later parts of the series gave Tsubasa a life-changing injury and we got to watch him slowly turn into a bitter and damaged Roberto 2.0.

We’re in Hyuga town for the second half of the episode, with some quality angst from our resident best boy. It’s nothing groundbreaking and we don’t particularly learn anything new, but I am always happy for Hyuga moments, so I’ll take it. I’m loving his thing of skulking around the tournament being brooding and occasionally pulling off some insane feat of strength or scoring some crazy impressive goal just for the sake of it. Some quick appearances from Matsuyama and Misugi, too, which are always welcome, even if I can’t always tell the two apart. It looks like next time is going to focus on Matsuyama and the crew. I wasn’t completely sold on this episode, so I hope the next one can bring something a little more exciting to the table. Non-Nankatsu episodes tend to have a lot more creative leeway, so here’s hoping.

Episode 40

You know, I don’t think about him too much, but I decidedly like Matsuyama and Furano, and episodes focusing on them tend to be good watches (not as good as Matsuyama’s clone Misugi’s episodes, but having a heart condition is basically cheating in terms of entertainment value so we’ll let it slide). I especially liked the flashback parts of this episode that were set in Hokkaido. Every other team has some outlandish gimmick, and Furano’s is that they’re from a place that’s pretty cold a lot of the time and that means they’re better and football because they practiced in the snow or something? But also they overheat easily. It doesn’t really measure up to the other teams’ selling points, but that’s one of the reasons I have such a soft spot for Furano: they’re a bit boring, but they’re a great bunch of lads in the end. The Yoshiko/Matsuyama storyline is really sweet too – they might actually be my favourite couple of the series so far; they’re so supportive of each other, and in that sense I think it’s the least one-sided relationship of the ones we’ve seen. Sure, Yoshiko is cheering Matsuyama on from the sidelines like Yayoi and Anego do for their respective boys, but he’s clearly very considerate of her, too. Meanwhile, exactly what has Tsubasa ever done for Anego? Nothing, that’s what. He’s all take and no give, that child. To love Tsubasa is to suffer endlessly. Unless you happen to be The Ball, which of course gets his full attention.

The match itself wasn’t anything fancy, but the general story was solid and I didn’t hate watching it. It did what it was supposed to do: make Furano look talented so that they can safely lose to Nankatsu in the semis without looking totally incompetent. Which is a bit of a well-worn formula at this point in the series, but I actually think it’s an alright idea to give the smaller teams that can clearly never get to the finals some extra airtime and make themselves look good. In this particular case, it’s also a vital moment to give the audience some emotional attachment to the Yoshiko/Matsuyama pairing (Yoshiyama? Matsuko? I bet this pairing has an actual name somewhere but I can’t find it) before Yoshiko gets sent away to America.

I spent most of the match being distracted by Minamiuwa’s captain though, because I can’t stop thinking about how much he looks like an evil version of Ishizaki. His name, Ishida, is even pretty similar. Is this some kind of statement? Is this what Ishizaki could be if he put his mind to it? Captain Ishizaki. That’s one spinoff I think I’m okay without seeing. Real talk though, I’d bet any amount of money that Ishizaki has written at least one self-insert fanfiction by that name.

It looks like next time will be the aforementioned semi-finals match between Furano and Nankatsu, which I’m actually looking forward to quite a bit, but chiefly for the subplots outside of the main match. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 3-ish weeks to get subs for this one!