With a surprising choice for the starters, the team takes on an interesting look and feel with a lot of anger brimming just under the surface.
What They Say
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Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tatsumi's taking over the coaching duties of the East Tokyo United club is certainly starting off in a really interesting way. He's managed to split the team in half with the regulars on one side being told they won't be starters while having all the subs and second stringers taking on the role of starters. That infuriates many of them on the team and confuses the new guys, but Tatsumi's got a plan behind it. With just a few simple words, he's able to drive home that this is their chance to be giant killers, to take down the top of the team and then turn it all around in regular league play. It's hard for them to grapple with this, but he's managed to motivate them well enough for the scrimmage while re-invigorating the regulars that they need to shape up. With the ETU being the worst team in the league, the regulars have to really prove themselves to Tatsumi here - and to themselves.
Tatsumi's plan and the player's he's chosen for his team for this scrimmage are definitely giving the regulars a real run for their money. The tactical side of it, the whole art of war angle, is nicely played out as Murakoshi's inner dialogue showcases how he views his team and how they're playing against the rest of them. But he's also partially blinded by his intense dislike for Tatsumi based on what's happened in the past and he just wants to prove Tatsumi wrong. With the way that Tatsumi has finagled the teams and the way they're playing through most of the scrimmage, he's stacked it nicely so that it's very difficult for Murakoshi and the regulars to really pull it out of the fire. As important as defense is, Murakoshi has to learn that it's not exactly a weapon that can be used to win.
Tatsumi's style of coaching is unusual to be sure and it even extends into how he handles press conferences. There's some real pressure there and he looks like he's about to nap as he gives the most casual of non-answers about everything. At least until Murakoshi's name comes up and people want to know what will happen to the player that has symbolized the team for so long, one that has a definite history with Tatsumi that is unpleasant. It's powerful when Murakoshi confronts Tatsumi over the changes being made to the team as we understand what has gone on, both when Tatsumi left as a player and what Murakoshi had to do in the years in between. You can see exactly where Tatsumi is going with it, though Murakoshi can't, but it's done in a way that makes it engaging and fun to watch. The relationship between the two is right now definitely my favorite aspect of the show.
While most sports related anime often takes a couple of episodes to get rolling, Giant Killing has nailed it from the start and the second episode is spot on great. What's proving to be one of the best things about the show is that the lead character is the coach, not a gifted teenager or middle school student. It's not even school related sports at all, but rather men whose living and job is to be a soccer player. That's a whole different kind of pressure and by making the focus on the team as a whole with the lead being the coach instead of a star player, it shifts the dynamic of it just right and gives it a new spin and feeling that allows it to be fresh and fun. And with great looking animation and character designs and some really well detailed outfits, you can see this leaping off the screen easily into reality.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.