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「江ノ島高校フットボールクラブ!?」 (Enoshima Koukou Futtobooru Kurabu!?)
“Enoshima High School’s Soccer Club!?”

A full-on time skip and a lot of hamburgers later, Area no Kishi has really reshuffled the deck.

First off, good call to those of you that made it – the heavyset kid in the preview was indeed Araki Ryuichi 2.0 (Ishida Akira, seemingly busier than he’s ever been). That’s just the most obvious indication that things at Enoshima High aren’t nearly as Kakeru thought they’d be, and the weirdness starts on the very first day when he and Nana are hijacked on the way to sign up for the soccer club by Hyodou Makoto (Kakehashi Atsushi). This seems natural enough given that the older boy is in a soccer uniform. But things are not as they seem at Enoshima High, as Kakeru and Nana discover when they stumble on the tryouts for the “real” football club, and see talented but chibi freshman Kaoru Matoba (Yonaga Tsubasa) failed for having the temerity to attempt a heel pass during the tryout drill. One also suspects that he might not have hit the club’s height minimum of 170 cm.

I hate to harp on it, but again we have a situation that’s a bit reminiscent of Cross Game – a school with a class system for the sports club in question. Here we have the “SC” – the official school club – and the “FC” – the “play for fun” group that Makoto recruits Kakeru for, who practice on the beach and whose only entry exam is a half-assed “soccer quiz”. This is a pretty interesting dichotomy though, if you’re a football fan. The SC plays what might be called a “Premiere League” style – English football, built around long crosses, stolid defense and using physically bigger and stronger players to win contested balls in the air and wear down the opponent. The FC plays what might be looked at as “Beautiful Football” – high-energy, high-risk, built around possession and precision passing and creativity. If you follow Japanese football at the national level (just look at the Nadeshiko who won the World Cup) you know on which side the Japanese heart lies – and it’s easy to see where the battle lines are going to be drawn here in terms of good and evil.

Of course this is a David and Goliath story – all the more so because the SC and the FC traditionally have a match before the regional tournament to decide who represents the school. It seems to be a mere formality that the SC wins – their style is easier to play, they’re better-drilled, and physically bigger and stronger. That was certainly the case in the prior year’s match, which appears to be the last one Araki played before quitting to join the “Comedy Duo Club” and eat himself silly. There are other factors tying into Araki’s quitting too, not all of which are known to us yet – though they certainly involve Araki’s misunderstanding that Suguru despised him. No question, Suguru seems to have had issues with Araki’s decision to join the FC, and called Araki a “naked king” – but it’s obvious that Kakeru is going to smooth this over and talk Araki into rejoining the team. For a team trying to play beautiful football, a creative fantasista like Araki is priceless – though just how long it’s going to take him to work himself into shape will be an interesting question. I guess they can always do another timeskip.

Among the most interesting questions for me is what will happen with Nana. Kakeru made the same suggestion that I did – perhaps there’s a girls club at Enoshima High. But it also occurs to me that as an “unofficial” club, there’s really no reason why Nana couldn’t be allowed to play for the FC, though of course she wouldn’t be able to play in any official matches should they happen to win against the SC (and it wouldn’t be much of an anime if they never did). She’d be invaluable as a practice player – I’d compare to, say, a young girl who was a terrific pitcher who could help the boys baseball team prepare to face the main club by throwing batting practice. Just hypothetically.

On balance, I’d say this was a pretty solid setup episode – I still enjoy the main pairing, and I think the premise overall remains interesting. The weird Suguru mysticism was kept to a minimum, which is a positive. I wasn’t as impressed with the overly campy tone the humor took, especially in the first half of the episode, much of which was only mildly amusing. There’s quite a bit of tonal shifting going on within every episode so far, and that makes it a little difficult to grasp just what kind of series Area no Kishi ultimately wants to be. The answer to that question will probably determine how successful it ultimately is as an entertainment, but for now, there’s certainly enough here to keep my engaged.

 

Preview

Area no Kishi   05   Preview 01 Area no Kishi   05   Preview 02 Area no Kishi   05   Preview 03
February 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm
15 comments »
  • February 3, 2012 at 6:37 pmLin

    It’ll be hard for Seven to play in a practice match when the anime is skipping all the practice to begin with lol.

    IIRC, there is a training match before FC vs SC, and Seven does play then. But the anime’s skipping that too lol.

  • February 3, 2012 at 6:57 pmEvidently

    I’m surprised at the rate of which this anime is proceeding. Usually you’d have atleast an episode of practice Kakeru improving on his on, but they’re straight to the game.
    As a side note… Unfortunately Seven might be in the same position as this hypothetical girl of which you speak of. She’ll be analyzing each player and helping them work out their kinks. Hypothetically there may be an episode where Seven will show her awesomeness to other girl’s soccer teams and invited to join, but might decline like someone who reminds me so much of Seven.
    Okay that was pretty big fail – I want to rewatch Cross Game now :(

    • February 3, 2012 at 7:00 pmEvidently

      Uwaa, take out that second ‘on’ =/

  • February 3, 2012 at 8:06 pmLuxor

    I don’t know about you guys, but 170 cm (about 5’7″) isn’t exactly what I’d call tall.

    • February 3, 2012 at 9:30 pmAnonymous

      For the Japanese, it is.

      Anyway, call me cynical, but I predict that despite her talents, Seven won’t ever progress past a cute mascot/game strategy expositor. Say all you want about the Nadeshiko, but when it comes to Japan’s educational system, the sport emphasis is overwhelmingly male, and there is no Title IX to ensure parity. Enoshima has no girl’s soccer, and you can bet there’s no girl’s baseball either.

    • February 3, 2012 at 11:03 pmGuardian Enzo

      170 cm is especially tall for 15 year old boys in Japan. I’m sure that would eliminate a good chunk of the first-years.

    • February 4, 2012 at 10:27 pmrufe

      Not really, average height for 15 year olds is like 169cm, average height for adult men is 172 or so. 170 is neither tall nor short.

  • February 3, 2012 at 9:05 pmwolstencroft

    sexy NANA!

  • February 3, 2012 at 9:59 pmKickingFish

    dat ass

  • February 3, 2012 at 11:58 pmbelatkuro

    Needs a full-length image of Seven in swimsuit.

  • February 4, 2012 at 5:58 amOwaranai

    Mmm…Seven in a swimsuit.

    Yeah, I did notice that the anime skipped a bunch of stuff, but so far it does seem that where it is adapted, they stick pretty close to the material.

  • February 4, 2012 at 4:49 pmSergio

    Where’s my swimsuit Seven full-size image? XD

  • February 6, 2012 at 6:14 amSynchronicity

    But it also occurs to me that as an “unofficial” club, there’s really no reason why Nana couldn’t be allowed to play for the FC, though of course she wouldn’t be able to play in any official matches should they happen to win against the SC (and it wouldn’t be much of an anime if they never did). She’d be invaluable as a practice player – I’d compare to, say, a young girl who was a terrific pitcher who could help the boys baseball team prepare to face the main club by throwing batting practice. Just hypothetically.

    Well in the manga,

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • February 6, 2012 at 11:44 amShin

    Hmm I think the direction this series is going is rather generic. The death of Suguru has been handled strangely and we don’t know what Kakeru takes from it. The main problem with this series is the protagonist. He seems kind of half-assed and I don’t know when hes going to start being a badass. I think in general sports and games series need some kind of magic or appeal. Typically this would be a really charismatic protagonist that you can always root for or you can have a very interesting mystique.

    If you compare to Adachi, which this series seems to borrow quite a bit from, his characters like Kou just have natural appeal. I would say it comes from his mystical relationship with Wakaba that defines him as a person. He is rather mysterious and often keeps a cool poker face. It might be too early to judge Kakeru given the time skip. I just felt like there should have been more motivation/angst or kind of emotion or desire that came from Suguru’s accident (rather than acceptance and mentioned in passing).