This was a pretty eventful episode on Area no Kishi, as the landscape of the series was reshaped in pretty much every way. The highlight for me was the return of seiyuu legends Mitsuya Yuuji and Hidaka Noriko, who played arguably the most beloved couple in TV-anime history, Tatsuya and Minami from arguably the most popular TV anime ever, Touch. Their roles here are small but seem to give the series a significant shove in a new direction, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
This ep was titled “Conclusion” and while it opened many new plotlines, it did wrap up the events of last week pretty thoroughly. Kakeru’s bicycle kick died on the goal line, the ref blew his whistle and the match ended in a tie. Rather than a replay or PKs, Coach Kondou of the SC decided that he would resign as coach, and allow Iwaki to take over a joint SC/FC team to represent Enoshima High. He did this to make amends for not supporting Iwaki when the FC almost won the championship several years earlier, but this was all a bit too convenient for me – indeed, Iwaki and Kondou spent most of the ep telling each other how great they were. What can’t be denied is that there’s seemingly enough talent on the combined squad to do some serious damage, and the SC was only able to stall the FC charge by abandoning Kondou’s tactics – so kudos to him for recognizing that, I suppose.
Naturally there were some growing pains as the two squads merged – a clash of styles and two squads worth of players fighting for one squad’s worth of starting positions will lead to that. Most interesting, though, was that Araki showed up having regained every pound he’d lost, and just as quickly. Well, whatever – that ain’t a healthy way to live, that’s for sure. Iwaki is a bit too soft on Araki for Seven’s taste, and she put herself in charge of his diet and generally making his life hell. The weight yo-yo thing is pretty out there, but I have to admit Ishida Akira (who I don’t always care for) is having great fun with the role of Araki – his humor is on a different level than the rest of the cast.
Back to that main event though. Mitsuya joins the cast as Goto, coach of the Nadeshiko – the Japan Women’s National Team – and Hidaka is the captain, Taeko Ishiki. Seven’s football skills have quite an international reputation, evidently – and the two of them have come to recruit the “Little Witch” to join the national team. She’s reluctant because she doesn’t want to leave Kakeru’s side, but once she helps him figure out his fatal weakness on the ball (which was actually pretty obvious) he convinces her to go ahead and chase her dream. This is a positive, as I’m anxious to see her as more than a manager and while it’s preposterous that a team that was good enough to win the World Cup would add a 15 year-old as a regular, it should prove good entertainment. With a little Seven-Kakeru development thrown into the mix (I think they’re innocent enough that shoulder-bumping is practically a confession) it looks like we’re finally going to see Seven’s character come into her own. As for next week I guess these guys don’t know the six-episode rule, because they’ve held off on their onsen episode till #8 – but I’ll be shocked if it isn’t a pretty innocuous take on that anime cliché.