Giant Killing – 24

Yawn – another stellar episode of Giant Killing, and another cliffhanger. This might be the most consistent show of 2010 so far.

Some of the foreshadowing of last week bore fruit this ep. We saw Kubota have the leave the game, exhausted. Dulfer greeted him warmly and even Sugie (and his coach) admitted that he had his ass handed to him by the kid. But Dulfer secretly wished he could have played Kubota for another 10 minutes, as he has to move Shimura into an attacking midfield role. Meanwhile, in the major twist of the ep, it’s revealed that Gino wasn’t having an off day after all. In fact, it was all part of Tatsumi’s master plan – to have Gino drop passes in just the spot to make Osaka’s indispensable captain, defender Hiraga, chase loose balls against the tireless Tsubaki. Losing Kubota limits the Osaka attack, but losing Hiraga decimates their entire defense – they’re forced to cede the midfield to ETU, dropping their midfielder back to support Hiraga because Dulfer won’t sub his captain out.

Again, having seen this coming, Tatsumi counters and we see a character we’ve almost ignored for the entire series – Tanba. Normally a midfielder, he comes in at left back – a clear attacking stratagem by Tatsumi to take advantage of the collapse in midfield. And Tsubaki – who now has his own cheering section in the Edomae and their little sons – continues to be a menace, running and running and gaining confidence in his offensive ability. The episode concludes with the youngster apparently about to cap a great run off the pass from Tanba with a strike at goal – but just at that moment Hiraga yanks him down from behind by the jersey. Clearly a yellow card offense, maybe a red depending on where on the field it occurred. Can the equalizer be far behind?

I do hate these cliffhangers, but I love them too – the sense of anticipation for the next ep is always fantastic. We’re surely close to the end of this game, if not in 24 then certainly 25. Tatsumi’s strategy is working just a bit too well, to the point of silliness – but it’s good fun. An interesting turn in this ep was to use Blanc as a device to explain Tatsumi’s strategy to the audience, in the guise of explaining it to his assistants. Blanc’s joy in watching things unfold as an impartial observer is palpable – he loves his sport and watching smart people apply their skills to it. That’s one of the fun things for viewers, too – you don’t have to love soccer to love GK, because it’s just that good, but it certainly helps.

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