After the crazy finish between ETU and Tokyo Victory, the stage is changed to the Japan Football League press conference. However, the excitement didn’t drop much as Tatsumi used ETU’s low 15th (out of 18) standing last season to place pressure on the other coaches, suggesting they would be put to shame if they lost to his team. With the way he stated so matter-of-factly that his position is ideal due to the lack of expectations, I love how Tatsumi silenced the media’s laughter by adding that he’ll help a weak club like ETU take out some of the big ones to make soccer in Japan interesting again. Not only was no one laughing at that point, most of the other coaches, including Tokyo Victory’s Hiraizumi (Arimoto Yoshitaka), saw Tatsumi as nothing more than a young, naive, and arrogant coach who didn’t even bother to dress up for the occasion. The best part of that though was how Tatsumi remained confident in the face of all of them, and no one could really doubt he had the potential to do so given ETU’s preseason match against Tokyo Victory. I’d say he made an enemy out of almost all his opposition, but it sure as hell set the tone for the rest of the series.
For one, Tatsumi didn’t flinch in the face of rank 2 Osaka Gunners’ coach Dulfer and instead made him acknowledge his abilities as a coach with a mere handshake. He also didn’t think much of one of ETU’s previous coaches, Fuwa (Omoro Masayuki), who was in charge of the team when it dropped two divisions and later left to manage Nagoya Gran Palace. With his unshakable resolve, it was nice to see Tatsumi continue to draw in the attention of everyone else in one way or another, including the manager of the Japanese national team, Blanc. It was pretty befitting of Tatsumi’s nonchalant personality to not bother learning the names of people he doesn’t expect to cross paths with — even when he’s the biggest name in the country for his occupation — but what their friendly interactions really emphasized is that Tatsumi is at least national-level caliber when it comes to managing soccer teams. Like seriously, who cares what all the other old coach farts think when the head honcho is on Tatsumi’s side.
As far as character introductions go, freelance writer Fujisawa Katsura (Oka Hiroe) should provide an interesting perspective from the press side of things, which is an angle I wasn’t expecting to see in this series. In any case, I love how the story got right back into things with a season opener against last year’s rank 6 Javelin Iwata team, led by Kurashige (Kojima Toshihiko). Known as a sly and cunning coach, he already got the jump on ETU with his team scoring on a cross, but I wouldn’t count Tatsumi out by any stretch of the imagination when he spent a whole night studying video on the opposition and the game’s just started.
* There was a fair bit of dialogue in other languages this episodes (e.g. Dutch, French), so it was interesting hearing some of Seki Tomokazu‘s current English speaking skills (…or lack thereof).