With the first pre-season match behind them and an understanding between Tatsumi and Murakoshi, it's time for the real enemy - the press.
What They Say
A league press conference is being held. While everybody is in formal attire, Tatsumi wears his normal clothes. He meets Nagoya Grand Palace's manager Fuwa, who has history with ETU, and meets last season's 2nd, Osaka Gunners' manager Dulfer. When the ceremony begins, Goto and Yuri are worried; quite right, as Tatsumi lets loose once again. A dubious Frenchman takes a liking to Tatsumi and takes him away...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first trial game out of the way, Tatsumi's figured out a bit more about the team and how it works together while the players themselves are starting to realize that there's some potential to be had this time around. After the way the last couple of seasons have gone and the general attitude of the fans and even those on the team, it's a radical change in how they're now playing better together and actually scoring. All of it worked well in order to show Murakoshi what he needed to understand after so many seasons of losses and the way he needs to truly trust Tatsumi in coaching the team and getting them to where he intends to. With a lot of captains second guessing or going their own path, the two look to have really figured out how to work their relationship.
This episode changes things up nicely by putting Tatsumi and a few others from the ETU at the main league press event to kick off the season. Tatsumi stands out as he always does by going casual while all the other coaches and the owners are suited up for the full business aspect of the meeting. Press events aren't exactly Tatsumi's field of expertise so there's obvious expectations, especially after his last press conference, to do something foolish or outlandish that will draw unwanted attention on the ETU. Tatsumi's very relaxed and casual in his approach to the press, a dangerous thing, but it works in his favor at this stage as he comes across as very different from the others and he's able to ruffle their feathers and put them off balance by challenging them in a way that means even one single loss creates bad face for them because of where the ETU has been.
Tatsumi's time coaching in England gives the event a bit more intrigue as another coach, a Frenchman who coached in England for awhile, invites him out for lunch. There's a fair bit of stilted English spoken here which is thankfully subtitled and Tatsumi tosses in some Japanese here and there for some side commentary. It's an interesting event in and of itself as the two watch some kids play a team game of soccer and you can feel a bit of camaraderie between the two men who have spent time overseas dealing with the game. When it turns out that the man is actually the manager of the national team, Blanc, it adds a really neat layer to things. You expected him to be someone of importance on some level but this is the kind of foundation piece that you know will come back into play, at least in the manga if not the anime.
The international flavor of soccer is really nicely used here as we get people speaking multiple languages, such as French, Japanese, English and I think something else as well. There's a certain love and camaraderie to be had among a couple of the people here, especially over the idea of good and cheap fish and chips. It's the kind of episode that does a nice job in really humanizing some of the characters and making them feel a bit fuller while adding to their shared history of coaching in Europe. We get the start of the regular season here with the first league game and that helps to get the enthusiasm pumping and the adrenaline running after the pre-season match and seeing what they can do there. And we also get a nod towards how unruly and presumptuous some fans can be which makes you wonder if Japanese soccer fans are different than the European ones that often make the news. Giant Killing continues to progress in a way that gives us engaging characters and a good look at the sport that still seems to keep things mostly within the realm of realism, something that's very much needed here.
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.