With another goal scored on them last time, morale and anger is all over the place for the ETU gang.
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)
The locker room during halftime during a game like this is going to be critical for any team in how they handle themselves. Watching the two teams in this regard is really interesting. With the score at two to nothing, the ETU guys are really railing on their defense, with the defense themselves raising the loudest voices on how they've performed. Kuroda himself is harsh and takes the amusing approach of telling the others to punch him as an apology. While this plays out, the Osaka team is in just as angry a mood as the diverse group doesn't really function as a team as they gripe against each other, demand more time to play and are generally very angry. But they use that as a way to build morale and work together, though it doesn't seem to truly unify them like the way the ETU has been unified. The egos here are too strong.
When Tatsumi makes it into the locker room, his particular style makes for an interesting pep talk as he doesn't actually give one. Not that he really gave a very serious one in any game prior, but here he talks about the fact that they're having fun and even if they're down two goals, he points out that they've made some inroads on the Osaka Gunners as well and they're not as well off as they were before. None of the ETU players really believe him, but he manages to get enough under their skin to give them the right kind of encouragement they need to get moving in the second half, pointing out just how much more exciting the game would be if they pull off a three goal upset on everyone and winning in the end.
Actual gameplay only makes up about half of the second half of the episode but it's good to see them back out on the field after the kind of locker room talk we had. There's a certain kind of energy they have now that's palpable, and while it doesn't scream instant victory on their part, there is a new focus from them as they get out there. A new anger in dealing with the players who have been thwarting them for so long now. And that aggressiveness begins to throw the Osaka players off balance as even Hauer gets fouled rather quickly, an incident which you can sense gets him angry and ready to make more mistakes.
The halfway mark of the game against Osaka is where things have to change and Tatsumi knows exactly how to manipulate his players. His coaching style has been in effect since the start and he's continually adjusting for new variables, but at the core he believes in the team that he has and he wants them to have fun. As stated at one point, players who are having fun when they play usually play better. And now that he's given them that nudge to realize it, they're out there and starting to get it. With Kuroda leading the charge and having an absolute blast in taking down Hauer when he can, it slowly becomes infectious and spreads to the other players who take up the challenge. Though the actual game play is short, it's fantastic and fun to watch them get into the groove and start playing like the top level pros that they truly are.
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.