Episode 42

Well, he’s only gone and done it, the absolute madman. Tsubasa’s pulled off a longshot Drive Shot goal at last. I love the ridiculous shit that putting a spin on the ball can do in this series, like if you hit it just right you can bend the very laws of physics to your will. I still think it’s kind of weird that this is the match they choose to have the tournament’s first drive shot in though. For a match that nobody really seems to care about, including the animators from the looks of a lot of it, Hirado are being treated very seriously by the plot. To be fair though, I did enjoy that bullshit goal. And, of course, the several minutes of Tsubasa-hyping that inevitably followed. It’s good to get those in, we hadn’t had a “god isn’t Tsubasa talented at that football” scene in a while. Katagiri even drops what I think might be the first reference in this installation to Tsubasa being like a phoenix, which is my favourite extended forced metaphor.

Jeez though he really is firing off the drive shots this time around. Not very intelligently, either. But dammit, it gets results. I guess this is Tsubasa’s berserker mode. I just… I don’t understand why he needs to win so bad. They’re trying to act like he absolutely has to win this at all costs and he just doesn’t. He could lose this match right now and he’d still be the best player in Japan by a wide margin. I know Tsubasa himself can’t be expected to put himself out of commission because he’s physically and emotionally incapable of accepting a loss, but you’d think a higher-up would have intervened by now before they lose their ace forever. But they all seem strangely chill with his decision to destroy himself. Except his doctor, who is probably worried about being sued.

And while we’re on the subject, how is it that Tsubasa collapses twice and it’s business as usual on the pitch, but Jito gets hit in the face and stays upright and the ref’s in there like a shot to stop the game? That injury scene was pretty exciting though, the blood actually sort of took me by surprise. I was disappointed that it was from Jito though, I thought Tsubasa might have somehow torn his leg open with the force of his Drive Shot.

Tsubasa’s second collapsing scene was great fun, as well. They know repeating the phrase “football is played with 11 players” doesn’t make it true, right? If it were, it wouldn’t be up to Tsubasa to score a hat trick with an injured leg and shoulder. But wow, Kisugi and Taki got the final goal, they’re a team after all!

And while we’re talking about non-Tsubasa Nankatsu players, shoutout to Morisaki for not jobbing this half. You go, Morisaki.

On a final note, I loved Hyuga’s little scene with the journalist, it was such a random and unnecessary little detail, and I’m so amused by the implication that there are sports journalists sitting around thinking up names for sick shots made during children’s football. I don’t know why the journalists are even here at all and I think they’re an innovation of David’s but I appreciate them and I hope to see an an entire episode dedicated to them someday.

Alright, next up is Meiwa Higashi vs Toho, which I would be more excited for if there were a chance in hell that Hyuga would be playing, but let’s see how it pans out anyway.

Episode 43

Oh boy, this episode is not very well-animated. Which I’m sad about, because it’s a Hyuga character development episode. There are lots of good shots of Hyuga scowling, though, as you can see from the bold artistic decision I have taken with my screenshots. There wasn’t really much else interesting to screenshot, truth be told. Nobody very important is on the pitch, after all. I mean, I like Sawada well enough and Wakashimazu is Wakashimazu, but neither of them are really big enough personalities to carry a whole match. All I want to see is Hyuga sulking on the sidelines and people speculating about Hyuga sulking on the sidelines.

Yeah, I dunno, I just couldn’t get into the match itself. It was cool when Wakashimazu ran out of goal to wreck shit and score the winning goal though. That’s always enjoyable. But for the most part, it seems like every action taken on the pitch in this match only matters insofar as it affects Hyuga’s mental state. Which is fine with me because the Hyuga parts of this episode are all I care about anyway, but I find my attention seriously drifting when there is actual gameplay on screen.

Having said that, the Hyuga moments were great fun, so I can forgive the rest of the episode being less than thrilling. His coach-directed freakout was all I wanted. I do kind of wish he’d just gatecrashed the game and steamrollered everyone, though. It’s what he was born to do. It’s like trying to stop a majestic eagle from spreading its wings. But there will be other chances. It looks like they’re starting to set up the coach to turn around on him just in time for the finals. Imagine that. Thank god though, imagine a final match without Hyuga. I’d rather die than watch that. And he’s going to Europe! Hooray. Looks like things are back on track for our angry boy.

So yeah, I didn’t necessarily dislike this episode at all; it had some great Hyuga moments and character development. And I had fun taking all those screenshots of Hyuga making faces. Having said that, though, I really don’t have a ton to say about it, and it was clearly meant as a bit of a rest episode before things start ramping up next time. Which is fine, it can’t be all action all the time. I’m sure “#10 vs #10” will deliver.