Wow, this had a much more positive ending than I was expecting I’m super relieved. I’m so glad that Toi survived. I was half-expecting him to die tragically, but here he is, fine. He’s paid his debt to society, he’s a changed man, he’s back with his boys, and he’s raring to go. He’s probably thinking about quitting drug dealing and everything. They really make you wait until the last second to find out that he’s going to be okay for sure, though. The stress. I love how they’re all Sarazanmai-ing it up for fun at the end. I mean, it’s certainly consistent with the major message of the show, i.e., “stop bottling up your weird secrets or you’ll implode”, but imagine being like “Hey, we’re all good friends now, why not bust out one of our humiliating secrets for the heck of it?”.

Other things I am glad about: Keppi not being secretly evil like I was worried he might be. And Keppi’s “true” form is CUTE. He looks like a beautiful Moomin boy.

AND REO AND MABU ARE BACK, MY SONS. How bittersweet. On the one hand, they’re back to normal and free to be together for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, they’re never going to do the otter dance again, without which the world is undeniably poorer. But one has to take the bad with the good.

The one character I feel we didn’t quite get enough of was Sara, but that’s just another reason for me to read the spinoff manga. Her royal kappa form is… something, though. I think I prefer her main form. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of Haruka either. What a precious child.

Mr. Otter went and got himself Thanos’d surprisingly easily in the end. but I guess that corresponds to another major message of the show: if your heart is in it, you’ll be able to hold onto your connections. As the otter himself says, he’s an abstract concept, putting him in direct opposition to solid, concrete connections. Or I think, at least. I could change my mind on a second watch.

I’m not sure I understood everything in this episode, especially regarding the “future” the bois were shown during their climactic Sarazanmai. I think it was a potential future that they’ve averted by being best buddies, but I’m not certain. A timeline where they’re forever doomed to live in a grimdark version of Captain Tsubasa. Kazuki’s leg is even fucked like Tsubasa’s. Now they get to be cute happy football friends forever instead, I presume.

Overall, I enjoyed this far more than I ever expected to going in. It might not have been Ikuhara’s finest work, but it’s better than any anime so committedly focused on butts has a right to be. I loved the zaniness and the bright colours, I loved the songs, and I grew genuinely attached to the characters, which is a rare thing for me when it comes to short series. It’s also surprisingly feel-good considering how many people die over the course of the 11 episodes (to be fair, most of them weren’t important). I just wish it were a little longer than it is. The whole thing feels tightly-paced and well-planned, but all the same, it feels like so much more could have been done with just a few more episodes. Still, it is decidedly the finest Captain Tsubasa-related material released this decade. I’m going to have to let it sit with me a while to decide whether I like or love it, but at a minimum, it’s inspired me to go on an Ikuhara deep dive. Next stop, Mawaru Penguindrum.