Forget the sub/dub debate, is it soccer or football? Armchair translators, engage!
What They Say
In Giant Killing a ragtag bunch from East Tokyo are struggling in Japan's top football league. The team is going through an abysmal spell right now where they are nearing the bottom of the table and have lost 5 matches in a row. The losses haven't done much to team moral, because it was already low. Fan support, on the other hand, is looking bleak. In the world of football, once the fans turn on a team the end is near. Teams don't recover. Coaches are fired, players are sold, and teams drop to smaller divisions where profits often prevent them from ever being successful against even mediocre top division programs. East Tokyo United, ETU, can only blame their coach right now. And Coach is ready to give up this next game to prove to his team and fans, that against the biggest club in the nation he can make this team win.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the seinen manga by Masaya Tsunamoto, which is over fourteen volumes as of this writing since it began in 2007, Giant Killing is a planned twenty-six episode series from Studio DEEN that is timed perfectly with the World Cup coming up. Having played soccer as a kid, coached it to other kids as an adult and having two kids of my own go through the sport for a few years, soccer is a game that I like a lot and fits in well with other sports series that have come over here over the years. It's still a sport that I find to be immensely popular among kids today, at least in my neck of the woods, as our small town of under 20,000 has dozens of teams each and every year across each age level. So seeing a show that deals with different levels, such as the young kids at first before moving into the older ones, is really great to see.
The series introduces us to the East Tokyo United club where things are getting to be pretty tough with attendance falling below 8,000 attendees on average. When that happens, sponsors start pulling out and it's really tough for that to happen to the ETU because unlike a lot of other teams, they're not part of another organization so there isn't a parent company to lean on. The administration is struggling to figure out what's best to do now and there's a bit of infighting since the chairman and vice chairman are very different brothers, but of the staff has decided to bring back a player named Takeshi who hasn't been involved in Japan for awhile to give everything a new spark and inspire others, to shake it all up a bit in a way that's needed. The concern is both whether they can do it and whether fans have changed too much to connect with this particular coach.
Takeshi has seen a real rise in his overall ability in the last few years as he went off to Eastham in England where he took a really rough team and shaped them into contenders that nearly made it to the top. Nobody in the local area knows what he's been up to all this time, but the nuggets we get about his period working with Eastham shows just what kind of inspiration he's been and the kind of drive he has in how it's paid off for them. Of course, as difficult as it will be to convince the fans to accept Takeshi as a coach, it's even more difficult with the players who have their own issues with him from the past. It may be the issue that really unites them as well since they look to be a pretty rough and ragtag group of players to begin with. Takeshi's style is one that's going to grate on them and the back and forth is likely what will define the first few episodes of the series at least as he has to work hard to win them over.
With this show gaining a bit more traction now that it's showing on Crunchyroll, I've already noticed a fair bit of discussion about one aspect of the localization in that they're calling it soccer, instead of football. The problem is certainly there as the show is being shown in multiple territories outside of the US, and we've heard that non-US viewers are higher in number than US viewers, so it is surprising that they're calling it soccer rather than football since that's what it's known as in what, 98% of the world? It's a problem I can understand, though since it is being handled by a US company by US translators presumably, it's not a surprise that it would be called that. While I would much rather see it called football, it's not an issue I'm going to find detrimental to my enjoyment of the show. Your mileage may vary depending on your intensity as a fan around the world though.
The opening episode of Giant Killing is really solid across the board. It manages to use an international flavor well with a nod towards England, the scope of the game and where it's played and it even uses a fair bit of English by several characters at different times. And not bad English either considering some of what's come in other series before. A lot of what we get here is fairly standard setup material and we don't get to really connect with any of the characters yet, but they've got all the right ingredients here with what I think is some really strong animation and character designs. The look is great, the animation looks spot on and it's a show that seems to be gearing up to give me exactly what I want out of a sports show. The fact that it's not dealing with high school kids just raises it to a whole other level. Definitely a show I'm looking forward to spending a good part of 2010 with.
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.