「激突! FC対SC!!」 (Gekitotsu ! FC tai SC !!)
“Clash! FC vs SC!!”

Whatever miracle diet “King” Araki was on, he needs to patent it, because he’ll never have to work a day in his life. Seriously? Two weeks and what, 50 pounds? This kid should be in bed hooked up to an IV, not playing soccer.

Let’s set aside that gaping logic hole in the interest of suspension of disbelief, and look at the episode itself. One of the hallmarks of any sports anime is that it has to be able to to do a “game episode” well – in football circles, Giant Killing is one recent show that comes to mind that did a very fine job with this. This was really the first one of any significance and I’d say Area no Kishi generally did a good job. I judge these sorts of eps by three main criteria: accuracy/realism, choreography/animation, and pacing/entertainment value. Now obviously AnK isn’t a massively budgeted series but in general I thought the animation was fine, though I would have liked a few more wide or overhead camera shots and not so much following the ball. In terms of realism, well, again – this is an anime and not a documentary, but I didn’t see anything superhuman and the terminology and strategy was acceptably close to what I consider realistic. Both teams ran what looked to be a pretty standard 4-5-2 formation and the main things I expected to see – the huge size advantage for the SC leading to a big advantage in the air and fatigue for the FC – were indeed major foci of the game.

That leaves the big one, entertainment – and again, I give the series a passing grade here if not an outright ringing endorsement. For me the best elements generally involved Kota, who switched sides at halftime after growing bored of the methodical and joyless style of the SC. I didn’t find the antics of the broadcasting club hilarious, more intermittently funny (humor is not a strength of the series overall to this point) but I did laugh at Kota’s note to his former teammates, and when he busted out in Engrish to tell Seven “I love you, OK?” More importantly Kota’s speed and energy gave the FC a boost and allowed their clever coach, Iwaki Teppei (seiyuu giant Miki Shinichiro) to shift the strong and athletic Hino to the center of the pitch and open up space for Kakeru to attack (and eventually score, hopefully losing the “Mr. No Goal” tag for good).

One element of the game I liked was Teppei’s analysis generally. A common feature of the first half (which ended with the SC ahead 2-0) was Kakeru coming back to defend. Admirable for a forward, but not a good sign for the team – not only do strikers who consistently race back to defend in their own penalty area wear themselves out, but as Teppei told Kakeru, a good forward can’t be too prominent all the time. Equally important is to lie in wait and lose yourself on the field, making it harder for the opponent to mark you constantly – only emerging when an opportunity presents itself to attack. Good strikers master this balance of all-field play and energy conservation in stealth mode, and it was the same advice Suguru had given his brother years earlier. Indeed, Teppei looks like a formidable thinker. It seems like he was the real brains behind the Araki move, because I can only assume he hid the fact that Araki was dieting and planning to play all along, waiting to spring him on the SC as a second-half-surprise. The overwhelming advantage still seems to stand with the SC, who lead 3-1 as the episode ends – they’re still bigger, stronger and more disciplined, and with stars like Ryouma Oda (Namikawa Daisuke, another legend) on their side, they aren’t lacking in genuine football skill.

Finally, lest you accuse me of making too many Adachi comparisons, I just want to point out that we were treated to some interesting news this week. The two stars of the anime adaptation of Touch (which remains one of the highest-rated TV series in Japanese history) will be making an appearance in Area no Kishi. Mitsuya Yuji (Tatsuya) will be playing the coach of the “Nadeshiko”, the Japan Women’s national team, and Hidaka Noriko (Minami) will be playing the captain. This implies that we’re going to see some of Nana as a player, or at least I hope so – there’s no reason whatsoever why she should be limited to being a manager when girls football in so popular in Japan.




    1. They probably knew that there was nothing they could show that would make losing all that weight in 2 weeks believable. So why not just make him appear out of nowhere having already lost the weight? lol That isn’t even the most drastic weight loss I’ve seen in a manga. If anyone reads Aiki, you should know what I mean. hahaha
      Anyways, can’t wait to see Nana play some serious ball.

  1. Well I’m kind of disappointed that they skipped the whole 2 weeks whereas the manga was pretty thorough with a lot of aspects. If this keeps on going my hopes of this series being a long one would be pretty far fetched.

  2. I like the sports-drama aspect of the show, but it always bothers me how unrealistic everything is. They always mention clearing the ball, but where are the throw ins? corner kicks? How many conversations are they going to have in between a game anyways?

    1. There are throw-ins and corner kicks but those that are non important to the plot are not mentioned. You can’t expect nearly a full hour of football to be cramped into 15 minutes of screen time.

  3. I felt the animation was a bit too poor. It lacked perspective and you were simply going from closeup to one person dribbling/passing to another random spot on field which you had no idea who would pop up.

    Still confused about what Suguru’s role in this anime is. Araki…idk it was more like 100 lbs into super fit in 2 weeks? Also still lost about Kakeru’s personality shift and why they haven’t done it justice.

    1. You can’t actually do that realistically, so I assume that the anime will show the repercussions of his manic diet. I do recall the manga being reasonably realistic (but not very) about Araki’s weight issues, even though he went on a miracle diet there too. How the anime deal with the aftermath is what will matter.

      Also, you can have a libero player who often goes into the opponent’s half and also defends. Kakeru is supposed to be a striker though, and shouldn’t be roaming around that far back most of the time, unless the strategy used is to pull back. Wild Striker did the libero thing pretty well, I think, though nostalgia might be affecting my brain here.

  4. Forwards and Strikers aren’t quite the same, though. The impression the series is giving me currently is that Kakeru is a Striker, the fox-in-the-box kind of player with some skill, not the forward that has a myriad of roles, some of which include tracking back. Wayne Rooney of Manchester United is a prime example of that at times when the need to defend arises.

    On the whole, I’m not overtly excited about this episode, and the series hasn’t given me the vibe and feeling of anticipation like Giant Killing did, but it’s still pretty decent.

  5. How did he loose all that fat. Or was it a fat suit?

    Im not sure about this anime because I still rate Gaint Killing as my top football anime. I think it was true to the game.

    I may be wrong.

    I must admit that playing as a Midfielder myself that this is getting interesting.

  6. Girls, cry! Araki can do what you ever wanted to… Sub: fat>>OUT, muscles>>IN

    Aside this, I’m putting my hopes in Araki, ’cause OMG, this SC team looks like mine! I hate the “old-style English football-ish” game, so I expect that a good Midfielder can be some good breeze in the team. 😀

    Don’t disappoint me Araki!

  7. The formation can`t be 4-5-2.. becuase that means that there are 11 players in the field, besides the goal keeper (12 in total).. so the formation is 4-4-2 (10 + goalkeeper)… but for me that was not the formation, I think it was 4-3-1-2.. playing with waht we call “enganche” (oda for SC and #8 for FC).. thats all i wanted to say

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