Well it looks like my expectations of ETU turning things around in their match against FC Sapporo were a bit premature. However, the five game losing slump they’re currently in will make their first win so much sweeter — especially if it’s against Fuwa’s undefeated Nagoya Gran Palace. While the stage has more or less been set for that to happen, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that ETU may still come up short even with everything that’s at stake. I get the feeling that the Japan Football League is in for an upset of epic proportions though, simply because the whole “giant killing” aspect of this series is long overdue. I realize it wouldn’t be very interesting if ETU suddenly propelled itself to superstar status overnight following Tatsumi’s arrival, but I really want to see another moment akin to Murakoshi’s tying goal in the preseason game to get the adrenaline-pumping excitement going again.
Granted, that was only four episodes ago and we have plenty of time in this twenty-six episode series, so my impatience in that regard stems from how depressing it is to see ETU constantly losing. Actually, it’s more like hearing about how they’re losing since these games aren’t covered in a whole lot of detail. As displeased as I may sound, I don’t really have a problem with the brevity of these recent games, since they’re more or less intended to show us how stuff off the field is affected by ETU’s consecutive losses. For instance, Tsubaki’s shaken confidence is one subplot that’s started to become more prominent, as Murakoshi had to say some words to the young rookie to get his spirits back up. To that end, I was a bit surprised to hear Mr. ETU admit he’s been playing more out of personal interest in improving his own game, but I didn’t take that as an overly selfish statement. Sure it’s easy to interpret that as him not caring about the team — with Murakoshi himself admitting it sounds as such — but it could also mean that he feels he has to focus on what he can personally do better to help contribute to the team’s success. A lot of the player interactions are a bit out of his control, and if you recall back in episode five, Murakoshi has already agreed to leave that part of the team up to Tatsumi as stipulation for being reinstated as team captain.
Quite frankly, I think Murakoshi’s current mindset works better in the grand scheme of things and believe this is what Tatsumi was thinking from the very beginning. Of course, that also means the ball’s in Tatsumi’s court now to make take the team to the next level, which this upcoming match against Nagoya Gran Palace will likely center around. It’s kind of reassuring that Tatsumi remains confident in the face of all the adversity and criticism he’s getting from the fans and management (as this episode reiterated), but what has me really looking forward to their next game is the personal excitement he exuded after reviewing the video footage of the opposition. Part of the surprise will be learning of what weakness Tatsumi’s discovered in Fuwa’s superstar team led by three Brazilian import players; however, I’m already speculating it has something to do with the displeasure the Japanese players feel being overshadowed by them. They’ve foreshadowed how Gran Palace’s previous star player is discontent with the carefree Brazilians stealing his spotlight, so it could very well be that Tatsumi plans to focus ETU’s attack around him. The preview seems to suggest as such too, with Kuroda talking some smack to him.
As for other developments off the field, I like how Gotou stood up to all the Tatsumi haters since he used to play alongside him, while freelance writer Fujisawa Katsura did the same in her articles. In the latter’s case, it’s almost like she wrote a wishful-thinking one in support of Tatsumi because she’s banking on him to become the big scoop this season, but with how the other journalists are looking down on her for doing so, I sort of see her as the equivalent of Tatsumi on the press side of things. As such, Gotou and Katsura are easily the ones to watch for on the management and press side of things respectively when Tatsumi gets ETU rolling with the giant killing.