The team is starting to show its united spirit, but the real soul and spirit of a team is its fans.
What They Say
Since Tatsumi became manager, ETU has lost 4 matches in a row. The Skulls fan group can't conceal their anger any longer. At the peak of their anger, they stop the players' bus and demand an apology from Tatsumi. Tatsumi stops Murakoshi from appeasing the crowd and tries to go out himself. Does he have a secret strategy against Nagoya Grand Palace?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While Tatsumi has managed to shake down the team fairly well, there's still a lot of clouds in the sky around the East Tokyo United team. They've not won any of their league matches yet but they're slowly getting better at working together and finding their groove. While Tatsumi has managed to handle the "problem" players in Murakoshi and Kuroda, he's facing two other different kinds of problems now. The first is the fans who are starting to have issue after having so much hope, and the management who was divided to begin with about bringing Tatsumi onto the team to coach it.
After several episodes dealing with the team on the field of play going through its issues, it's nice to have an off-field episode where there's still things to deal with. The fans are growing unruly about the entire situation, especially those more dedicated hardcore ones, and after the return from the last game that was lost, they want to see Tatsumi to reinforce with him that he needs to get that team on the stick. It's amusing to see that some of the players are mildly afraid of the fans because they're being active in wanting to know what will change. Even Tatsumi looks a tad apprehensive about stepping out of the bus to face them upon their return to the clubhouse. This permeates into the material afterward where some of them like Tsubaki are trying to figure out how they can get better not only for themselves but also for the fans that support them.
The management side of the story is amusing as you've mainly got the one vice-chairman who is very much against Tatsumi that's causing trouble. It's not going well for him though since the others are against him rather strongly and openly as they're supporting Tatsumi but also because they don't want this kind of sentiment to get out to the team or to the press. The press side is interesting as well as they're waiting to see what will happen but they're also being an influence on the team because of their reporting. And they're influencing each other as well, especially when an article comes along from someone that talks about how Tatsumi's expressions are becoming more lively at the end of each game. And after the losses they've had, the next game is going to be a big deciding point for the ETU and Tatsumi in general, which is why it's good that he appears to be excited before the game.
Everything here is prelude to the fourth league match against Nagoya where the direction of the ETU must change. So much has happened in these opening matches for Tatsumi to get a feel for what he has to work with and he looks like he has things figured out how to approach them. Watching the way he's tweaked and massaged the team to date, it feels like he's ready to let them loose in a way that even they haven't realized is possible. That anticipation builds up quickly toward the end of this episode and it caps off a good off-field episode that tackles a few other character issues that needed to be touched upon before the ETU can move forward again. With every episode, I'm reminded again of just how different and more thoroughly engaging a show about adults can be when you eliminate the high school drama.
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.