「サッカー部分裂」 (Sekkaabu Bunretsu)
“The Division of the Soccer Club”
I sort of get the idea I’m siding with the wrong group (and this isn’t even Shakugan no Shana) but I was pretty much in agreement with the SC boys this episode.
It was a two-pronged plot on Area no Kishi this week, and one of them wasn’t Nana and the Nadeshiko – sure to disappoint her fan base. Instead the focus was split between the gradual breakup up the Enoshima soccer club and the story of one of the FC members, Takase Michirou (Tanzawa Teruyuki) who hasn’t been focused on much. In terms of the team, the SC boys are getting more and more fed up with Coach Iwaki’s super laid-back style – and frankly, so am I. Araki’s act is starting to wear thin with me, and while that’s not the only issue it’s the most glaring one. He continues to abuse food, he shows up late for practice, and he treats said practice like a lark (when he’s not doubled over out of breath). There may be a hidden genius plan that I’m not seeing, but it looks as if Iwaki is letting Araki walk all over him, and this doesn’t sit well with the likes of Oda and the captain, Sawamura, and eventually Iwaki’s relaxed attitude pushes them to stop coming to practice altogether.
One of their number, the very tall Takase, doesn’t stop right away – or for that reason – but he eventually stops showing up too. Turns out he’s working at a supermarket because his family is bankrupt, the same reason that he quit his first love of basketball to play soccer – which (in what will surely be painfully ironic for American soccer fans) is a much more potentially lucrative sport in Japan than basketball. Kakeru and Nana find this out when they accompany Kaoru to his house when the red-headed boy wants to apologize, thinking his continued nutmegs using Takase as a victim in practice have induced him to quit. The side story with Takase is modesty interesting and concludes in an episode-ending pickup game and declaration of love for the game, but feels sort of detached from the rest of the story.
There’s also a return visit from Kakeru’s creepy counselor, who gives him a clean bill of health but gets his heart racing by showing him a magazine article stating that Suguru’s old pal Silva is attending a high school (effectively a soccer factory) in Tokyo. She speculates that it might be because he’s found out that Kakeru is playing, which seems to hit a little too close to home. In terms of the schism, we’re left with the image of the SC boys gathered under a bridge plotting their mutiny – though from the looks of the preview another formal split seems unlikely. If that’s indeed the case, I hope the reason is tied into Iwaki showing some backbone – or at least giving us a clue as to why he’s acting like such a pushover.