OP: 「Flower」 by Lenny code fiction
「今年の1年はウケるな」 (Kotoshi no Ichinen wa Ukeru na)
“This Year’s First-Years are Hilarious”
If you know me, you know I love a good sports anime. 2013/2014 essentially kick-started the new generation of sports anime fans, and after a dip in numbers last year, this season is giving us plenty to test out. So far, Yuri!!! on Ice and Haikyuu!! are clear winners, which isn’t too surprising, whilst All Out!! (which also adheres to the exclamation point trend) lingers behind. This premiere wasn’t bad by any means, but it was the sports anime standard, for better or worse. Fans of the genre are sure to enjoy the quirks of the characters and look forward to what positions they’re going to play (in more ways than one…) now that we’re getting to know what their relationships are like and how they work as a team. But similarly, this episode was so damn predictable that nothing presented was surprising. I sensed every plot shift moments before it came, and could almost imagine the seiyuus shouting out certain key phrases, and that meant the result left me wanting a little more.
The premise is simple: We’ve got the hotheaded shrimp, Gion Kenji (Chiba Shouya), whose major gag is that he’s short and everyone likes to point out that’s short (though he might look at little taller if he didn’t walk with bowed legs and a hunch), and in contrast there’s the gentle giant, Iwashimizu Sumiaki (Adachi Yuto) a first year of intimidating size who gets bullied by others and is too timid to use his strength. We’ve got a boisterous chibi and a book-loving buff boy – it’s a match made in the shipping heavens. Honestly, I’m shocked this episode was lacking in homoerotic subtext that I expected from glancing over the manga and character designs; this was more masculine and boyish than I envisioned, but that’s likely to only aid its quest to concur the fujoshi.
With the two leads established, the rest of the episode is dedicated to rugby – a sport that I, as a Scot, am familiar with just as much as football (although I play neither). But it’s not shocking that your average Japanese highschooler wouldn’t have heard of it. As a result, we spent some time viewing the pitch – as opposed to actually getting involved and invested in the game – as Gion realises how fun it looked. Sprickle on some: “Any one is welcome on this field and anyone can be the star if they so wish!“, and you’ve got your premise for the show. But there’s also Iwashimizu’s middle school drama to consider, as he was recruited by a friend before injuring his shoulder and causing the team to lose a crushing defeat. His friend’s painful screams were the most striking moment of the episode; that scene felt guttural and real, so I hope we get to see more of the gruesome results that come with such a violent sport.
Overall, All Out!! is sure to appeal to the new wave of sports fan who need something to scratch their itch this season. If this episode is any indication, it’s unlikely to be groundbreaking in its story or production, but the comedy is goofy and endearing, the characters are cute when their designs aren’t utterly ridiculous, and there’s a positive energy to Gion that could make him a worthy lead. Though, I do think the height jokes could get old very quickly.
Also, butts. If you like meaty man butts, you’ve got 24 more episodes of them on display to look forward to.
ED: 「全力少年」 (Zenryoku Shounen) by Sukima Switch