In some ways this might have been the most interesting episode of Area no Kishi so far, both on and off the pitch. I was pleased to see a little focus on one element of soccer that seems counter-intuitive – that a striker must be selfish and egotistical in order to be successful. That’s part of the lesson Kakeru needs to learn, and though he fails miserably at executing the “mythical feint” in Enoshima’s second-round match, Iwaki-sensei is pleased to see Kakeru stubbornly declare that he’ll try to do exactly the same thing in the next game. Enoshima wins anyway (after Kakeru is subbed out) and their next opponent is Tsujido High, coached by former Enishima FC player Uryu Joshi. They feature some kind of bizarre trick-play with throw-ins that I suspect will test my credulity once it’s revealed.
Of more interest is Shonan, the school that awaits later in the tournament. They’re known for their rock-solid back four, one of whom is Hibino Kouichi (Kisashi Atsushi), the boy whose knee Kakeru inadvertently injured. Hibino visits Kakeru in the park where he practices with Nana, and after offering condolences for Suguru’s death and seeming to have moved, pops off and lays some major guilt on Kakeru because his knee still hasn’t healed (though how he managed to be such a demon with a torn ligament is unclear). Another of Kakeru’s demons to overcome, it seems. Meanwhile the Nadeshiko have another young phenom, the blonde Murasaki Mayu (Sudo Saori), and Araki seems to finally be shedding the pounds. And then there’s the totally random but quite welcome footage of Nana on the beach in a two-piece, shot by her mother and played for the entire team after a small technical difficulty with her laptop. Definitely a motivational film if ever I’ve seen one.
Ozma – 04
Any doubt that Gido is Sam’s brother (and apparently Bainas’ lover) were eliminated this week, as we saw in her flashback that the two characters share the same seiyuu. Aniki’s name was “Dick” before it became Gido, and he seems to have tipped Bainas off back then as to the “Godddess of Theseus” ability to call of Ozma when she wanted to, although Bainas apparently forgot until Sam reported what Maya had done.
While Bainas obviously misses having Dick in her life, the main thrust (OK, I’m sorry – I’ll stop) of the episode was another excellent battle of wits between Bainas and Gido beneath the sands. These dogfights are like a cross between “Das Boot” and “Dune” and they’re very entertaining, with both captains very smart and trying to think one step ahead of the enemy. There’s not a lot of context to the battles, since this is such a short anime and there just isn’t time for much backstory or character building. Ozma would have been better with a smaller and more manageable plot, or this one with a full cour to flesh it out. But it’s still fun and really classic in that Matsumoto way, and the CGI is starting to look a little better. The most interesting question to me is whether Bainas knows who Gido is – whether she’s known all along, or at least does now that the two are meeting across their respective bows. Gido, for his part, seems to have been memory-wiped by what the Theseus have done to him.