As Sugie finds his groove, the focus shifts to Natsuki as he has to get his head properly in the game.
What They Say
Just before the match against Osaka, a question is posed to Natsuki... Does the ball belong to your team? Or you?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While it's nice to believe that everything Tatsumi does is for a reason, sometimes he does say things without thinking that have a fair bit of impact. After Natsuki worked hard to get on his good side and to be a part of the team after being away for awhile from an injury, he's doing his best to really get out there and be a part of the game and impress and shine for his family. He's having trouble, at least with his vision of things, with how Gino is controlling the game in a way and he's feeling like he can't get in there the way he wants to. Natsuki's definitely the slightly older earnest type with the experience to play well but has not done well in this game and is being sidelined by his own teammates because of it.
Natsuki wasn't a favorite of mine in his mid-season introduction, but he's slowly made his way into the series after being a bit outgoing, mostly because they pushed him to the background a bit to focus on other players, thereby making sure the second half of the season wasn't completely about him or allowing him to dominate it. Now that we're in the final stretch, we're seeing him coping with the way he feels about soccer and what his position as a forward means. He wants to score, he wants to get the attention for it, but he has to grow into being an actual team player, something that Tatsumi put into his head in a way I don't think he even realized when he did it. But it sunk in and Natsuki has been grappling with it.
What Tatsumi didn't realize when he made this push towards Natsuki was that the kind of forward he's thinking of is not who Natuski will be. He's the kind of player who will be a part of the team, but he has to have his role in it through the kind of vision we've seen that Natsuki has. He has to play it with the ball being his rather than the effort of the team that got it there, and once he makes that kind of attack with that in mind, it's exactly what will free him. When the game turns and he has to put himself into the game fully, watching Natsuki take to it, to find which path is the one he truly belongs on, has a great air of excitement to it, even if Tsubaki's role in all of it stands out even more.
While Giant Killing focuses mostly on Natsuki in this episode, what is reminded once again is that this is very much a team show. We've seen a lot of the characters go through their growth arcs while dealing with their own issues or with Tatsumi and his style of coaching. But we're also seeing them all interact on the field. While there may be a key player to it for the focus, they're all involved. This one allows Tsubaki to really shine brightly, more so than the seemingly lead character of Natsuki, but it's that feeling of it being all of them involved in it to such a large degree that makes it such an amazing show. Between what the ETU goes through and watching what Osaka's Kubota has to deal with, this is a top flight episode of gameplay.
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.