Though it ends in a draw, the ETU manages five games in a row without a loss, a dramatic change from the previous season.
What They Say
ETU is coming off its fourth match in a row. No one is sure if the team is in top shape or not when the match against Albireos Niigata begins. The built-up pressure and excitement leads Akasaki to get a yellow card while defending. At halftime, Akasaki says something that sparks a giant argument. The coach and others try to break it up in haste when they come to a quick conclusion.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The ETU is certainly running into is slump, though it's one that in some ways the team can certainly be proud of since they aren't losing. They've had several draws in a row and they're starting to reach their limits a bit, causing the combination of both things to start to impact them psychologically. The game that kicks off this episode after the credits has them playing in the rain no less, adding to the frustration and causing the red and yellow cards to fly along as well. It's like kicking them when they're already down. Yet when you consider that in the previous season they were losing consistently, draws are a step up, but not what they want after the wins they were having and the momentum they had behind them.
The psychological side is a dangerous one as it starts causing the players to rail against each other after the games over mistakes, real or perceived. The focus turns onto Akasaki who is taking the draws very seriously, enough so that he accuses the other players of playing just to have fun instead of playing to win. And he says this from his junior position to the senior players during the halftime period when they're still in the midst of a game. It's not something that's good for other new players to see and it doesn't speak well of the senior players. Yet Tatsumi just sits and watches from his position of knowledge where he believes that draws show him exactly how a team is truly feeling about a situation. So seeing many of them angry and unhappy is a good thing, it's just a matter of directing them properly.
The draws end up leading to a loss, but it's the kind of change that the team needed to start working together again in a better form. And it's definitely needed as the team is about to face the Osaka Gunners, a very strong team whose coach met Tatsumi previously and held some faith in him about getting the ETU on the right track. He hasn't been too impressed by how the ETU has been doing as of late, but he becomes more and more excited about the prospect of playing against them as he gets a bit more info on how they're doing. While Tatsumi feels confident, or at least plays that up with everyone, the rest of the team is a bit apprehensive about playing them when they watch the footage. The Osaka Gunners are definitely the next big test that they have to face, one that they need to be really on the ball about in nearly every way before they face them.
Giant Killing takes a slightly unusual approach for this episode as there isn't a definitive focus to it in a way, but it wants to show how difficult things are for the team right now. Having so many draws has impacted the mood of the team since it's not a victory to be elated about or a loss to be hurt by, but just a game where the anger builds over not winning definitively. Osaka is a powerful team and one that can crush a lot of opponents, but there's something to the ETU that they're coach is hopeful about for when the two sides finally do meet. And the viewer is quite hopeful as well, particularly with the way the episode ends on Tatsumi's ever so devilish expression. While it serves as a quiet moment between the big game moments, there is a lot to like here in how it deals with team dynamics and the way the ETU is being viewed by a lot of the stronger teams out there. Now you just want to see what kind of training is in store and to see the match happen as Giant Killing leaves you wanting more.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.