Ah, Giant Killing – it’s the little series that could, the dark-horse of the spring season. No budget, no big names in the cast, no big studio muscle behind it, and not much of a following, apparently. But it just keeps chugging along, quality episode after quality episode.
This week is definitely a breather episode, the monumental grudge match with Nagoya and Fuwa having been won, and the rematch with Sapporo upcoming. The focus this time was on the multiple generations of ETU fans – The Skulls (as close as Japan gets to soccer hooligans, apparently) and, more interestingly, the kids and the old guys in the Edomae. I love the Edomae – a bunch of middle-aged guys desperately trying to recapture some of the feeling of their youth by rounding up the old gang now that ETU is fun again. Turns out, now that their buddies are all married and supporting kids, they don’t have time to become Edomae again – with the exception of one meek fellow from the photo shop.
And then there’s the kids – the boys from the ETU Youth Team we first met in the opening moments of the series. I love how GK focuses on the “family” of supporters that’s such a part of sports – the various generations who have ETU running through their veins. The kids were clued in to what a disaster ETu was before Tatsumi arrived – a boring, defensive club that was no fun to watch. And they were one of the first to spot change in the air with the new coach. It’s their enthusiasm that first drew their Dads back into the team.
The other focus of this episode was on Yuri, herself caught up in the flood of excitement after the Nagoya upset and the resulting story in Football Weekly. She’s desperate to cash in on this moment in the sun, but unfortunately such a workaholic that she literally pushes herself until she faints. She wakes up in the infirmary, gets a stern lecture from the team Doctor, and then hides out until everyone leaves and tries to get an interview from Tatsumi for her new ETU newsletter. This nets her a stern warning from him, too, about the dangers or working too hard, on or off the pitch. Romance flags, anyone?
Not much happened in this episode, really, but it did a wonderful job capturing the swell of enthusiasm for the team among the fans and staff. When a team you love has been bad for a long time, you want so badly to believe it can all change – trust me, I’m a lifelong Cubs fan. GK a does a great job portraying this side of sports – the impact a team has on the community that supports it.
Finally, the preview gives us a glimpse of a new player for ETU – a returning one, anyway, named Natsuki Youtarou. Does this mean a benching for the genki starting striker, Sera?