GIANT KILLING – 15
So as expected, the return of ETU’s Natsuki Youtarou (Kusunoki Taiten) puts pressure on Sera to step up his game if he wants to keep his starting forward position. What I wasn’t expecting however is for Youtarou to be ETU’s top scorer, meaning Sera’s got his work cut out for him. It’s one thing to have taken over Sakai Yoshinori‘s (Kawada Shinji) spot as a starting forward, but Youtarou coming back from an eight month injury and looking no worse for wear is a different story. For the team as a whole, having players vying for starting positions is never a bad thing, but it’s easy to see how having competition puts a lot of pressure on the players themselves. The drama played up in this episode from Sera’s point of view was understandable, but not all that concerning either. The reason being is that ETU was able to win their game against Sapporo with two goals from Gino and one from Akasaki alone, even after a missed opportunity by Sera. I suppose I should feel a bit more sympathetic towards his situation, but if Youtarou’s return means that ETU will be more dangerous up front, it’s kind of hard for me to weigh his personal goals over those of the team.
In addition, Youtarou’s personality is an easygoing and optimistic one as well, which should only serve to help the team in the long run. The way he says some pretty insensitive things without thinking leads to some pretty funny results, primarily because he’s not oblivious about it after the fact. All in all, he seems like an awesome addition to have back on the team, especially when he’s been thinking about soccer the entire time he’s been injured and keeping up with what’s going on through Murakoshi. From Matsubara’s quick rundown on the team’s history, Youtarou seems like a much better player to have around than their former Argentinian import Fernando too, who did nothing more than sap most of the team’s funds with his high paying salary. Be that as it may, Tatsumi doesn’t seem like the type of person to judge a player through past accomplishes alone, much like when he replaced a lot of the original regulars with rookies like Tsubaki, so I imagine things will get interesting when Sera tries to prove himself next game.
In a way, Sera’s circumstances aren’t all that different from when Tsubaki was having confidence issues, so I can’t help but wonder if this whole incident will lead to a drastic improvement in his game as well. The preview doesn’t suggest that it will — at least not right away — making me wonder if we’re going to get to see Youtarou in action fairly early on. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing how ETU performs as a team on the field following their two consecutive wins, which includes the first one this season on home field. Given how the team’s doing much better, having a bit of friendly competition between starters is far from being a problem in my eyes.