Area no Kishi – 09

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Yes, this is an excellent idea – scare the crap out of the kid who had the heart transplant.

I’m very much of two minds about this episode of Area no Kishi. On the one hand, it’s nice to see Nana in action on the pitch at last, and she doesn’t disappoint. On the other, though, this is the episode where AnK pretty much tossed all notions of realism out the window. As a serious soccer fan I’m somewhat troubled by this. First of all, the idea that the Japanese national team – even allowing that the manga was written before they won the World Cup – would be so weak that they need a 15 year-old to save them from being embarrassed by an American club team is insulting to the Nadeshiko. Second, the notion that a 15 year-old girl is strong enough to be the best player on the pitch in such a match is a real stretch. And third – if the American midfielder is to be believed, Nana played and took the US First Division pro league by storm – when she was 13 years old???

Sorry, not buying – and if such a player did exist, there’s no way she’d be wasting away as a manager for a high school boys team, she’d be an international celebrity in football circles. There’s the dilemma, though – the series is obviously better when Nana is playing football and not just watching it, but it sort of casts Kakeru and his Enoshima High team as a joke. I do respect Nana’s wish to have Kakeru make the national team too, and her loyalty certainly can’t be questioned – but the way it plays out here is pretty hard to accept.

With that very large qualifier set aside, it was a solid episode. A training camp episode is a must for a sports shounen, and we got one here – but damn, that is one huge pool of players Iwaki has thrown together. Way, way too many for one HS team in fact, and I assume there are going to lots of roster cuts as well as fierce competition for playing time. At the camp, Araki is still fighting Nana’s efforts to help him lose weight – and Ishida Akira is still gleefully chewing the scenery. We have the requisite test of courage (again, why single out heart-surgery boy for terrorizing?) and even our first real fanservice of the series, courtesy of Nana in the baths and Araki’s healthy curiosity and lust for revenge (and other lusts as well). Give Kakeru credit for trying to save Nana’s honor – however unsuccessfully – but alas it’s the serious and responsible Oda who gets the blame and a couple of facial bruises as his payment for trying to do do the right thing.

It’s be interesting to see how the series balances the relative realism of the boys HS soccer experience with the virtual science-fiction of Nana’s far-fetched flirtation with the international stage. They’ll have to try and make Enoshima’s soccer seem relevant when compared to the level of Nana’s play, and make it at least somewhat comparable in entertainment value too. Then there’s the matter of Nana and Kakeru’s relationship, which continues to creep forward, glacially but so far inexorably in the right direction.

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6 comments

  1. A

    This is mostly nitpicking but… I wanted to point out that Nana didn't play for the US First Division pro league:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Professional_Soccer

    But rather for the Premier Soccer league:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Premier_Soccer_League

    The Premier league is a second-tier league, not first division… Well, the fact that she got to the finales with only 13 years all still made her recognized though.

    Also, I wanted to clarify that in the manga Seven was recognized internationally way before she became a member of Nadeshiko. Even Iwaki knew who she was from the first time he saw her, and Araki knew too. And players from all over the world knew her too. Basically, the only one who didn't know about her was Kakeru. The anime though, handled Seven poorly, an all the moments when it was shown that she was pretty famous were removed….

    All in all, in the manga Seven doesn't appear that unrealistic to me. The anime just didn't know how to deal with her character.

  2. a

    I agree that it was difficult to swallow the transition in Seven's role. I was prepared to accept her as a great player, but I think they pushed the whole narrative too far by making her show up late, seemingly never having practiced with the team, stuffed some shots into the goal, and then head back to wash dishes or whatever the hell she was doing at the training camp.

  3. I

    I actually thought this was the best episode in the series so far.
    Some nice comedy, chemistry, a much better animated, albeit shorter, football match and of course some fanservice and romance from Nana.

    As a show which obviously requires a quite a bit of SoB from serious football fans, I think concentrating on comedy, animation of games and the romance is the only way for AnK to go well. It may not end up on a Ookiku Furikabutte or an Adachi level story, but at least it won't be boring; something it was becoming during the FC vs SC match at times.

    Oh and Full lenght of Nana from the bath, MUST learn to do this myself.

  4. b

    "Full lenght of Nana from the bath, MUST learn to do this myself"

    Learn to share please.
    And you should learn how to do it as well, Enzo 😛

    QUALITY aside, this was a good episode. I admit Seven being a very talented player is kinda wasted on being a manager on Kakeru's team but she's still gonna play in next episode so that's okay.
    After Araki's miracle diet on the exhibit match, I'd rather just accept the other things in here like Seven being a famous player at a young age.
    Still a good episode though.

    And Odaaaaa! So lucky man… Darn…

  5. J

    Realism? in this anime? I gave up on that aspect of the anime pretty long ago when they had such strange instances as : 1) staring contests in the middle of the field…"is he gonna go left or right?!"…well most people would have made a move before you even get a chance to say that in your head. 2) CONVERSATION during a game. 3)The amount of takes for something to happen. Like many action animes, area no kishi likes their characters to dish out a whole explanation of the plays while the action around them magically pauses long enough for them to finish talking

  6. Ish, in terms of pure entertainment value, I agree. And I'll suspend my disbelief after this – I just wanted to express my reservations on the realism side.

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