“Panic at the Training Camp!?”

Yes, this is an excellent idea – scare the crap out of the kid who had the heart transplant.

I’m very much of two minds about this episode of Area no Kishi. On the one hand, it’s nice to see Nana in action on the pitch at last, and she doesn’t disappoint. On the other, though, this is the episode where AnK pretty much tossed all notions of realism out the window. As a serious soccer fan I’m somewhat troubled by this. First of all, the idea that the Japanese national team – even allowing that the manga was written before they won the World Cup – would be so weak that they need a 15 year-old to save them from being embarrassed by an American club team is insulting to the Nadeshiko. Second, the notion that a 15 year-old girl is strong enough to be the best player on the pitch in such a match is a real stretch. And third – if the American midfielder is to be believed, Nana played and took the US First Division pro league by storm – when she was 13 years old???

Sorry, not buying – and if such a player did exist, there’s no way she’d be wasting away as a manager for a high school boys team, she’d be an international celebrity in football circles. There’s the dilemma, though – the series is obviously better when Nana is playing football and not just watching it, but it sort of casts Kakeru and his Enoshima High team as a joke. I do respect Nana’s wish to have Kakeru make the national team too, and her loyalty certainly can’t be questioned – but the way it plays out here is pretty hard to accept.

With that very large qualifier set aside, it was a solid episode. A training camp episode is a must for a sports shounen, and we got one here – but damn, that is one huge pool of players Iwaki has thrown together. Way, way too many for one HS team in fact, and I assume there are going to lots of roster cuts as well as fierce competition for playing time. At the camp, Araki is still fighting Nana’s efforts to help him lose weight – and Ishida Akira is still gleefully chewing the scenery. We have the requisite test of courage (again, why single out heart-surgery boy for terrorizing?) and even our first real fanservice of the series, courtesy of Nana in the baths and Araki’s healthy curiosity and lust for revenge (and other lusts as well). Give Kakeru credit for trying to save Nana’s honor – however unsuccessfully – but alas it’s the serious and responsible Oda who gets the blame and a couple of facial bruises as his payment for trying to do do the right thing.

It’s be interesting to see how the series balances the relative realism of the boys HS soccer experience with the virtual science-fiction of Nana’s far-fetched flirtation with the international stage. They’ll have to try and make Enoshima’s soccer seem relevant when compared to the level of Nana’s play, and make it at least somewhat comparable in entertainment value too. Then there’s the matter of Nana and Kakeru’s relationship, which continues to creep forward, glacially but so far inexorably in the right direction.




    1. I stopped reading the manga a over year ago because I caught up to the scanlation and if I remember it correctly, it was right at Enoshima’s selection match between SC and FC and that was just an episode ago. Wow, did they stop scanlating it?

      Still waiting for Divine’s GC post. 🙂

      The Story You Don't Know
  1. Wayne Rooney was a beast at 17 so it doesn’t bother me much. As for the Japanese Soccer Team being a joke…I think Nana’s victory came from the fact she was underestimated at first and then she played with the team after. Still.

    1. Wayne Rooney wasn’t a regular on the national team until he was 19, though. And everyone knew damn well who he was for a long time before he ever started playing internationally. Same with Michael Owen. Boys mature later and the mens game gets more press, but I still don’t buy a 15 year-old as a savior for a top-shelf national team, or a sensation in a top pro league at 13.

      1. Hafta agree. Even Messi or C.Ronaldo did not truly break into their club’s first teams until they were at least 17.

        It is indeed rather unlikely for Nana to be able to totally dominate the national team (even if its the women’s team) at the age of 15. Possible, but unlikely. For her to dominate a pro league at the age of 13 though, is too unrealistic already.

        The possible argument now perhaps is that she is tall for her age. I can’t really remember clearly, but she’s like wad? 165cm or so? And that’s actually rather tall for an Asian girl already. Furthermore, she has shown that she is extremely agile as well, which in a sense is similar to how Messi is. These 2 factors probably help to explain how she was able to burst unto the international team like that.

      2. What I’m questioning the most is that if she played in US First Division pro league she should have been payed for playing but international soccer law states that:

        Copy and pasted from http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/administration/01/06/30/78/statusinhalt_en_122007.pdf

        1. International transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over
        the age of 18.
        2. The following three exceptions to this rule apply:Show Spoiler ▼

        This means that she shouldn’t have been able to play in Amerika at all because international law states that she should have been over 18.

  2. judging from the preview, it seems like they are up against the Germans. Please don’t tell me its going to be Nana who’s going to kick Germany’s ass. That will be waaay too much

  3. While I have to agree that she does seems slightly too skilled for that young of an age, and although her being a savior is a little far – fetched, I think you’re being overly critical of other aspects. I do not think it’s disrespectful to the Nadeshiko at all. Firstly, their record prior to 2010 was really not very good at all, and people continually overrate International teams. Club teams train together throughout the year, come from a whole host of nations, giving them a broader talent pool to chose from, and they can pick players that fit their puzzle. International teams just take their “best” players, toss em on a team with minimal training and people expect great results, which really just doesn’t work so well in a team game.

    It’s also entirely possible that a younger player (let’s say 15 for the sake of argument) could be a game changer for a club or a team. The only reason we never know for sure, is because people don’t give them the chance (for better or worse).

    As far as her being an international celebrity, well she clearly is to some extent or else she wouldn’t have been approached by the Nadeshiko in the first place. This is also expanded upon a little bit later on, which will hopefully satisfy anyone who has doubts about her being well known and hiding under the radar.

    The Doc
    1. History shows us that it is virtually impossible for a 15 year old or even more impossible a 13 year old to play against grown men and women. Pele, Maradona, Messi, or to use women Mia Hamm, Marta, or Prinz none of these made an impact until they were at least 17. It’s great that Nana is wonderful player to put her up as the best young player by a long way in the history of the game is a bit much it also puts Kakeru and his efforts to shame.

      If Nana was 17 I could see her getting into the squad of the national team, but even then it would be a bit much to expect her to dominate.

      1. Aye, all of the best players always had to wait, but it’s not necessarily because they weren’t good enough, it’s that we have the U21 / U18 teams where managers tend to prefer to test out their younger players first.

        I’m not trying to say that this is incredibly realistic, but I also don’t think it’s fair to say that it’s impossible when in reality we never give it a shot to be possible, so it’s more of a lack of opportunity to be honest.

        Also, somewhat in contrast to my previous arguments, this is only a club team, so a 15 year old “dominating” (don’t forget it took a full 30 minutes for 2 goals, it’s not as if she came on and tied it up within 5 minutes) a club isn’t as special as it might sound. Now if that happens against Germany, then it’s fair to start calling serious shenanigans, but until then I think it’s overreacting to blast the realism.

        I will fully agree though, it does sort of overshadow Kakeru’s team quite a bit, but without spoilering anything I found the later chapters with Kakeru’s team to be more involving / engaging than what they are now.

        The Doc
  4. If Nadeshiko Japan is an actual team playing internationally against club players, she should quit being the manager! Though it seems far fetched that they would use a 15 year old girl, they should’ve made it so that she took the place of a U21 member or something.Way more believable, but I’m glad she’s getting the recognition she deserves. She’s better than any of the guy players.

  5. Given what I had seen in Prince Of Tennis and Captain Tsubasa, this is already pretty much easier to accept. At least if one day there is really someone with enough talent, the possiblity of such situation happening is not impossible.

    1. It’s much easier to accel in tennis at a younger age because it’s an individual sport and is very skill reliant over pure strength. Martina Hingis won Wimbledon at age 15.

      Suppa Tenko
  6. Honestly everyone should just accept this show as a high school drama rather than a sports anime(you get that feel at the first episode)though it could be possible to for a high school player to go international at senior level at 15- (Mexico’s GK Cecilia Santiago was the youngest player to play/appear at a Worldcup at 16-(GER 2011). the odds of starting are still very low(mexico sucks at women’s level anyway). I guess she could be a star a U-17 national level but at senior level while playing for japan, nah. If there was a player of such caliber she would be playing for either Germany or US. history has recently proven that possible. (though not quite at 15). Now for men’s the answer is NO. if you know soccer well then you should accept that a male player reaches its soccer peak at 21-29. all good players like Messi. CR7, Rooney are at their peak. but breaking through at 15 nope. you need experience, (that’s why there U-17, U-21) skill and maturity(LIKE PASSING THE FREAKING BALL. Women’s peak is different they can be still at A level at their 30s FIfa women’s best player of the year(2011) is 33- HOMARE SAWA 8

    Rolling Paisano
  7. Just to clarify, it bothers me at least as much that Nana and her talent aren’t a bigger deal to people as that she’s so good so young. If there really were a 15 year old that good, she’d be an international superstar. But that’s as may be –
    after this I’ll suspend my disbelief.

  8. Homare Sawa played her first match at 15 for Japan. I think Seven is modeled after to her.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    1. You’re right, DanF. Seven played in the WPSL (Premier Soccer League), which is a second tier US female league, not first division. She was still awesome because she was only 13 though, but it makes it a bit more realistic…

      In any case, Nana isn’t supposed to be just a great player; she’s beyond that, she’s a prodigy!

  9. It’s a bit weird to have Nana and her playing national level be a sidestory, while Kakeru and his High School football are the main plot.

    Nevertheless I’m really happy the story has Nana as a player herself, instead of just a cute manager/love interest sidekick. However this episode was kinda painful to watch.

    You’d think playing for the national team was kind of a big deal. But instead she shows up only after the first half is over, quickly aces the opposition and impresses her teammates and then quickly leaves again, because the training camp is soooooo important. And apparently the game wasn’t important enough for anybody to ask her about that afterwards either. Maybe it happened offscreen, but the anime certainly didn’t want to spend time on it.

    Also, as cool as it is to see Nana in action, the one-sidedness is a little boring. Luckily it looks like next weeks German team will offer more opposition. Maybe they actually make Nana realize she has to be more serious about playing football if she wants to play on that level. I am looking forward to it in any case. And thats not only because I’m German.


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