With the pre-season material over with and the team getting settled under Tatsumi's guidance, it's time for the real games to begin.
What They Say
A league match against manager Kurashi's Javelin Iwata. After a lucky shot puts Iwata in the lead, ETU is totally overrun by Iwata's assault. After being dissatisfied by the way the game went, the free reporter Fujisawa asks Tatsumi a question at the press conference. While he answers it cooly and whips up another frenzy there, the next match against Sun Arrow Hiroshima is another loss...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first six episodes of the series did a good job of bringing everything together with a bit of tension and drama as Tatsumi was brought in as the new coach. With his history on the team from years ago, his different style of coaching and his poor press approach, he's a definite character that shakes up things a bit but not in a way that's outlandish or brash. His methods for figuring out what his team is capable of definitely works for him and they're all slowly getting it, which ended with a very good scene involving Tatsumi and Murakoshi where they establish what they really need to do together in order to make a winning team. It's really engaging to see adults working together in this way rather than working against each other.
Tatsumi is actively getting called out on his team's performance after their first loss of the season though since he had made some strong promises at the start of the season. Tatsumi's press relations are admittedly amusing to watch since there are many coaches across many sports known for their candor or odd responses to questions. I doubt there are many, if any, that question the looks of a reporter though like Tatsumi does, but he manages to get away with it because he shifts the focus to how the ETU is still the team to watch for making Japanese soccer exciting. Two straight losses isn't helping his position though and you can even see the frustration slowly creeping into Tatsumi's face as things aren't going as he's intending it to go. And the rest of the team is starting to get very frustrated as well.
With a setback like this, it's obvious that Tatsumi is going to have to come up with something interesting in order to shake things up and get them back on track. And with Tatsumi, you can't be quite sure what it will be either. Tatsumi's game tournament that he puts on shakes up the team a bit and puts a few players like Kuroda out of their place for the next game, something that obviously doesn't go over well. There's always a loud, brash player or two on any team and they tend to both motivate and rally the team while also causing some amount of tension and aggravation. They're a double edged sword but in the end they're necessary. Kuroda's approach doesn't pan out well for him though but the method Tatsumi's using may just reinvigorate the team to finding some fun in the game that they can bring back to the field.
Managing any team is a difficult one and Tatsumi has made his even more challenging because of the goals he's laid down for the team, both to them and to the press. The pressure on him is pretty intense all around but he's also being given some leeway to try and turn things around. What he's not getting is the support from certain players, but that's to be expected as the previous order and seniority on the team has been changed since Tatsumi's arrival. Rather than place faith in the coach, personalities are dominating instead and it's about to make a new shake-up that could give the team exactly what it needs. Or it could ground its spirit down even more. And all of it is done with realism and solid drama, not over the top posturing or amazingly unbelievable playing skills. Highly recommended.
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.