There’s just something about watching people desperately struggle against all odds and succeeding that I find incredibly moving. Seeing sheer unwavering determination pay off in the end tends to invoke heartfelt feelings in me as if I were sharing in the valiant attempt, which was the case in the second half of ETU’s match against Tokyo Victory. It was an emotional ride with huge ups and downs for the players as well, as things starting off on a rather promising note when Tatsumi got his team fired up with a substitution and strategy change of taking Tokyo Victory head-on in midfield. One of the focuses was of course on Tsubaki, since he felt responsible for getting yellow carded in the first half and giving Mochida a free kick to score the tying goal. Given the character development he had last episode, I was happy to see Tsubaki get re-focused fairly quickly with a few words of encouragement from Tatsumi and not let Mochida’s mind games get to him.
At the same time, I loved hearing ETU’s giant killing coach relay to his staff the winning determination he saw in the players’ eyes during the last practice and how it’s the most important thing in making a team better. Tatsumi is always calm and composed when he speaks of soccer seriously, so when he gives short motivational speeches like that, everyone just stops to pay attention. It’s a drastic change from his usual nonchalant and somewhat selfish self, which is what’s so unique about his character and why he’s so fun to watch. After a near goal by Tokyo Victory followed up by an actual one where Tsubaki felt at fault again, his observation of his players’ resolve when it was gut-check time with five minutes remaining further highlighted his exceptional abilities as a coach.
Pressed up against the wall, it was at this time that I could really sense the emotions start to swell up as I eagerly wanted to see ETU score a goal and tie the game. The key moment came when Murakoshi stepped up the bar, wondering what he’s been doing as the team’s captain all this time before, and Tatsumi yelled at him for thinking he can win by only thinking about not losing. Once that thought clicked and the music kicked in, I just couldn’t help but get goosebumps as Murakoshi charged the net with a one-two play off Gino and in an adrenaline and testosterone-filled surge of emotions, absolutely hammered the ball to into the opposing team’s net. His grunt and war-like cry of jubilation was deafening as the entire crowd was silenced in awe. Pardon my language, but that was absolutely fucken awesome. I still get chills and slightly teary-eyed watching that scene even now.
With the game ending in a draw like Tatsumi was originally hoping, it was good to see him and Murakoshi finally get back on relatively good terms with Mr. ETU reinstated as the team’s captain. The best part of that was how Tatsumi made him realize that he didn’t need the wishy-washy captain he was before, but one that would bring out the team’s true colors like when he scored his goal. With the stipulation that he has to follow Tatsumi’s instructions and understand his mindset while on the soccer field (a.k.a. pitch), report everything he notices about the players, and continue to improve himself as a player with no leeway given for mistakes, it was befitting of Tatsumi to encourage Murakoshi to try and get him dismissed if he really hates him. Next time, it looks like Tatsumi has to meet with the media after the drastic improvement seen in ETU.