OP Sequence

OP: 「My story ~まだ見ぬ明日へ~」 (My story ~Mada Minu Ashita he~) by THE CHERRY COKES
Watch the OP!: Download, Streaming ▼


Yes, the soccer anime is here! I never thought I’d be saying that until a week ago when I was writing up the Spring 2010 Preview and stumbled on this little gem. First off, I’d like to reiterate that I’m probably the farthest from being a sports anime fan, with the most recent series I watched remotely related to sports being Taishou Yakyuu Musume. Hardly what you can consider a sports anime as you can probably imagine, and I only really watched it for the cute female cast of characters. However, GIANT KILLING is different. Here we have a testosterone-pumping soccer team striving for improvement and oddly, I like it! The main reason for that of course is the impression I got from the manga and how the main character, Tatsumi Takeshi (Seki Tomokazu), loves playing the underdog and uses seemingly unorthodox strategies to guide his teams to victory.

This first episode served as an introduction to all that, and depicted how the management at his former Japanese club, East Tokyo United (ETU), went to England to coax him into becoming the current team’s new coach. What they found there was a man living it up and basking in the town’s love for him, after he had taken an amateur club to the final 32 in the FA Cup in only a few short years. Now that may not sound like much, but when you consider that the FA Cup is a tournament where all the professional teams compete in, it really puts things into perspective. Before being able to make the top 32, an amateur club has to have defeated at least one professional club, which is a huge upset known as “giant killing” in the soccer world. It’s literally David versus Goliath, except the stage is a soccer field and Tatsumi has the track record to make you believe he can pull it off.

Fast forward to the present. Tatsumi returns to ETU as their new coach, but the current state of the team is pretty abysmal since they can’t win. To make matter worse, management has to deal with the rabid supporters who deem Tatsumi a traitor for leaving the team when he was one of the star players years before. At that time, Tatsumi left for Europe to pursue personal interests, causing several of the other key players to leave the as well. It was all downhill for ETU from that point on, until their one ray of hope, Murakoshi Shigeyuki (Okiayu Ryoutarou) a.k.a. “Mr. ETU”, became captain and brought the team back to a decent level of competitiveness.

On Tatsumi’s first day in his new position, he shocks the entire team, management, and even the coach, when he divides the team by the players’ 30 meter sprint times, which he had them do continuously before arriving fashionably late, and declares his picks the new starters (i.e. regulars). Seeing as his group is comprised of second string bench warmers and excluded “Mr. ETU”, no one is able to take Tatsumi seriously at that point, especially when he has no idea how well any of them can handle the ball. However, to silence those complaints and doubts, Tatsumi challenges the coach to take on his group of players with the supposed stars of the team and see if he can win.


Now how’s that for “WTF” impact? I loved this opening part in the manga, and it gets even better when you realize that Tatsumi’s not just all talk. He’s not a complete miracle worker either, but there is a method to his madness which you’ll see in the next episode. While I understand such a premise won’t be appealing to a lot of people, I really enjoy the whole “underdog story” thing going on here and how it makes you second guess yourself before looking down on anyone. In reality, things don’t really ever pan out as nicely as they do here, so I like how this is an inspirational story at the same time.

With that in mind, I was really excited watching this first episode and didn’t really mind how they changed the portion of the story in England to a series of flashbacks. It did sacrifice some of the impact from Tatsumi’s days managing his British club, but it allowed the main story to get on track much quicker. I felt that was an acceptable trade-off, but I couldn’t overlook how Studio’s DEEN‘s work here is pretty lackluster and leaves much to be desired. It’s likely that NHK’s broadcast doesn’t help much, but it’s still a far cry from the work they’re putting out for Hakuouki‘s first episode. There also seems to be a heavy reliance on computer generated scenes, particular the huge stadium ones seen in the opening sequence, which I personally don’t mind but still perceive as a cost-cutting shortcut.

Overall, there’s no question that I wish this series was produced better (and by a more consistent studio), but that’s really not going to stop me from watching it. I’m here for the underdog story first, so the soccer theme and even lack of superb animation quality aren’t going to sway me away at this point.

P.S. Humorously enough, this first episode had a fair bit of English dialogue from an English voice actor, but it wasn’t very good from an acting standpoint. It’s okay though, as we won’t be seeing the British club’s general manager too much.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Get tough!」 by G.P.S
Watch the ED!: Download, Streaming ▼


    1. Thanks for the concern! Premiere week of a new season is always a bonus or sorts. 🙂

      It’s highly unlikely (if not 100% guaranteed) that I won’t be covering all these series after that, but I wanted to touch base on all the ones I marked as good or guaranteed in the preview. There are still two more that aired today that I’m trying to write up… -_-;

  1. Keep up the great work Divine! Your getting a lot better every day! I’m sad that your not bloging Bleach, but a least your keeping up with the shows this season. Good job! 🙂

  2. Based on the description of this anime, sounds like you would possibly like watching Eyeshield 21. A sports anime about the other football =) It’s got the same underdog aspect with a crazy guy (though he isn’t the protagonist in this case) using unorthodox strategies to win games.

    In any case, sounds like an interesting show even it is by Deen. I’ll give it a try ^^

  3. The production level is not the top notch here but still is decent. The story is obviously the juice here, some characters are quite interesting too. Definitely worth a try.

    1. Yeah, it’s been 11 posts in 4 days if you include FMA, but I’m always fired up when a new season rolls around. Call it an “anime high” if you will.

      Also, I’m batting 1000 in terms of picking out shows that I thought I’d enjoy, so I wanted to convey some thoughts on each of them as well — hopefully putting them in a better light than a lot of people originally perceived.

  4. I agree. Love the underdog story.

    One thing about the CG. It’s used pretty often from what I can tell. But if you look at them closely each one is animated and doing, well soccer. It’s not like the CG from Sengoku Basara where its just hordes of CG guys doing the same thing. Each ‘player’ is doing something. So even though I rather have them just animate each player, if they use the CG for far away shots but still having each CG player correspond with their respective animated self then I say it’s not that bad.

    Have you given Ookiku Furikabutte a try? The first season that is. It’s actually kind of the Underdog story. Just a team of people from different places that don’t look all too good. Even the main character (well he seems like the main anyways) isn’t too crazy at pitching like you see in Cross Game, Major, what have you. But it’s not to say he sucks. Still very good and if you’ve seen the Natsu no taikai hen then you’ll see little flash backs of the games they played in the first season but in “real-time” (opposed to where each 3 sec shot took about 3min footage time when actually watching that games episode).

    I really recommend it as it kind of gives me the same vibe as GIANT KILLING.

    1. I haven’t given Oofuri a try yet nor its sequel, but I was remotely interested after hearing all the thought that female mangaka Higuchi Asa put into it. If it’s somewhat of an underdog story like you’ve mentioned though, I may just enjoy it more than I thought I would.

      Hmm, does this mean the start of my sports manga/anime days? o_O I already have too many things to watch.

      1. It’s probably not as straight underdog as GIANT KILLING but its pretty close. They don’t seem like your typical “I’m bad ass cuz I got crazy hair” type. They look like ordinary people (as ordinary as you can get in an anime at least) but have something that, well, works.

        I’d say give it a try. It really includes everyone having an equal part in the team and how they play, different from the typical “This guy has the skill that only 1 in 100,000,000 people have” sports animes. You really learn to love each character.

  5. Need….subs…..NOW!!!! lol looks good from the pics. I havent read your review because i dont want to ruin the story before i actually watch it. No worries though i will be back to read it. Oh and thank you sooooooo much for keeping RC alive. I like stopped watching anime for the winter season (didnt care for the shows) but when i came back for spring i went directly to RC and saw the Farewell post by omni. I freaked out….lol anyways thanks man

  6. That Tatsumi character reminds me a lot of Holland from Eureka Seven.

    With me being such a massive soccer fan, I’m gonna be eating this series up from start to finish. While the art style may not fully be to my liking, I think I will keep up with this series as long as the awesomeness continues.

    Anyway, if you want to check out some more sport anime, check out the Eyeshield 21 manga if you haven’t already. It’s my fav of all time and I can’t recommend it enough, evident in my last recommendation post 😛 – http://sekijitsu.com/2010/03/09/recommendation-eyeshield-21/

  7. Thanks for the episode review. I was thinking about watching the first episode of this series. Because of my family I started liking football/soccer in the last couple of years and it’s now a hobby of mine to watch games on tv and visiting a few games nearby.

    I like the concept of the underdog, too. I’m really looking forward to the next episode.

    And again thank you for writing this review!

  8. Really excited for episode two. Times like these make me wish i could speak japanese. Oh and I dont know if anyone else noticed it but i like the tiny tiny tiny smiley face in the bottom left hand corner. 🙂


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