The first pre-season match gets fully underway and it's not what the opposing team thought it would be like.
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 losers 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)
Tatsumi's change to the team by having Gino take on the role of the team captain, at least for this particular game, is a surprise the opposing team since they figured he's such a self centered type that he wouldn't be able to run it right. But amazingly enough, he's changed in some way that allows him to really work the team well when it comes to passing and moving things around the field while using the relative strengths of those around him to get close to achieving goal. There's some other surprises in store as well as Tsubaki proves to be a force that they didn't expect as he's an incredibly fast mid-fielder who can change the dynamic of a play.
A good bit of time is spent here with Tsubaki as it goes back to the last night of the training camp and we see Tatsumi spending a little quality time with him. Tsubaki is doing his damndest to get things right but is having a hard time figuring out what works or why he's as off kilter as he has been. Tatsumi's the kind of coach that does let silence stand, to draw out the inner thoughts of the person he's working with, and that lets him get inside his head in a better way than some other coaches might. Tsubaki's honesty, albeit a bit too many tears, is the right thing to establish what needs to be done and gives Tatsumi what he needs in order to use the raw material he has in front of him. Tatsumi hasn't done a lot of talking in the first couple of episodes, but he is positively inspiring here.
The time spent in the present within the game itself is spot on as we see both side react to things and to see the ETU take the offensively in a serious form by going on the attack. The team that Tatsumi has fielded for the match is not what anyone expected, especially the regular starters, and most assuredly not the visiting team. Tatsumi's managed to work things so that the other coach has to readjust his plans already, but that's something to be expected in these kinds of matches since there are always new players that change things up to some extent. Of course, any changes made by the opposing team means that Tatsumi has to watch what's going on as well as most other teams outside of ETU are in pretty decent shape so there's a lot more teamwork at play and that's invaluable.
Giant Killing spends its time predominantly on just two characters here on the field as Gino and Tsubaki work together quite well to advance the team. Through a good flashback that highlights what Tsubaki went through at the end of training camp and with the way Gino seems to be playing very well but unlike his usual selfish self from the previous season, it's good to keep things focused like this. There's time to work on other characters in the show but there are always the standout ones that rally everyone else and it's easy to see that these two may be the inspiring points that helps to raise the team in general. The opening match here is pretty exciting and I love the detail and nature of the animation as the game plays out and we see it from a few different angles. Each new episode can't come fast enough.
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.