So here’s the 411 on Araki as explained by Coach Iwaki – because Araki never trained hard in middle school, his cardiovascular system never developed and his heart and lungs can’t support him for maximum effort for an entire game. So his plan is to let Araki play fat so that his heart and lungs get fit enough to support him in that condition – so that when he does get thin, his stamina will be improved too. I don’t know how much of a medical basis there is for that (or for guys losing 60 pounds in two weeks for practice matches or people receiving memories from transplanted hearts) but it least explains why Iwaki was letting his star player walk all over him.
Speaking of which, there had to be some sort of method behind Iwaki’s madness of going soft on his team, and there way. The whole notion of working a second job on a construction site to earn enough money to rent a stadium for a practice match seems a bit out there, but the fundamental notion of letting his players see for themselves how much they need the SC guys by putting them up against a college team makes some sense. And thanks to Kondou doing his part by bringing the SC ringleaders to watch the beating (which ends up being a respectable 4-4 tie, though the college team hardly seemed to go all out) is the basis of reuniting the split halves of Enoshima High in time for the inter-high matches.
I would say that the match elements of the episode suited my tastes a little better, as there was much less one-on-one dribbling and more of a focus on buildup. Generally speaking Araki, surprisingly, seems to be very focused on individual ball possession and not so much on passing and setting up his teammates. I’d expected him to be more like Suguru as a player, but so far he seems to have the mentality of a striker than a playmaker – in fact he scored the FC’s first two goals against Kanazawa College mostly through individual effort. Kakeru did finally get into the action himself, scoring on a header and then setting up Takase with a nice cross.
The payoff of all this is the selection for the Inter-high matches, and that’s a problem when you have about 40 practice players on your roster. It was obvious that Araki and the core players from the SC like Sawamura and Oda (Araki nabs #10) would get in, but I wasn’t sure about Kakeru – I could see an argument that the dramatics of the series would be better served if he wasn’t chosen immediately. He was (though scraping by with the #20, likely meaning he’ll start on the bench), which leads into the best scene in the episode as he shares the good news with his family (including Suguru). There’s also the matter of the secret alignment that Iwaki and Kondou have chosen for the first Inter-high match, teased but not revealed. The strength of this team seems to be in midfield, and Kota was added to the roster as a midfielder when he’d been playing as a defender – so I’d be surprised if they don’t use 5 in midfield – but a normal 4-5-1 or 3-5-2 would hardly be a surprise worth teasing. So perhaps something radical like a 2-5-3, which would explain Kota being shifted upfield.