You have to love a coach that leaves his team speechless when he reveals the plan on how to beat their upcoming opponent.
What They Say
Experiencing a long streak of poor performances for several years in the Japanese professional football league, the East Tokyo United (ETU) hires Takeshi Tatsumi as manager to try to break the curse that seems to have fallen over the team. Will he be successful in turning the team around?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tatsumi's style is one that continues to amuse me as he's definitely got something of a wicked streak about him as he likes to torment his players a bit. With the team coming off of their recent loss and now getting ready to go up against the undefeated Osaka team, which is crushing everyone in sight, it's the kind of time for everyone where they're more than halfway resigned to a loss. You can even feel that from the fans as well, though they all come out to support the team. The team itself though is really unsure of Tatsumi's plan as it seems too simple or strange at best and there's some interesting pushback from them about it until Tatsumi lays it out simply and clearly.
Tatsumi has another really good moment when the teams arrive at the stadium for the match and he comes across Dulfer there, with Blanc looking on from a slight distance so as to not be seen. The two men certainly have strong stares at each other and you can feel them really sizing each other up, aggressive in a very controlled way by using their expressions and words to make their jabs and attacks. Tatsumi's style is one that really is off-putting in a way and it disarms Dulfer even though they're not speaking the same language as just the translation is enough to make him get it. Their controlled nature is amusing to watch in contrast to that of the Osaka players which are kind of strange and outgoing with each other as they burn off their tension before the game starts. It's always good to humanize the opponents before and during play as it makes the matches far more exciting when you know some of what's at stake for them.
Though the game obviously isn't a big part of the episode, everything that leads up to it is really beautifully done. The introductions of the teams and the idea of what their opening line-ups will be like says a lot about what they're intending to do as a strategy, something many of the observers comment on. At the same time, there's a great sense of pride that you can feel through the show coming from the ETU supporters as they fill the stands chanting. It' reminiscent of how Tsubaki felt a long time ago when he could feel the spectators cheering him on, giving him the energy and drive he needed to move forward. With the team that's fielded here, one that makes sense after all the training we've seen recently, Everything is given the proper build-up here which has you on edge for the game to start.
I continue to love the international flavor of this series with coaches and players from different parts of the world and who speak their own language while having translators along. It makes for some awkward moments, but it also keeps some basis of reality to it that you sometimes lose by having everyone speaking fluent Japanese. The start of this game has a whole lot of energy to it as we get the rare instance of introductions, which is welcome to have once in awhile, on top of all the little character bits that make it in throughout the episode. Though the majority of this is setup, it's great setup that gets you primed for what's to come rather than just wishing it would get there already. It's a rare setup that enhances what's to come.
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.