Ginga e Kickoff – 07

[Doremi-Oyatsu] Ginga e Kickoff!! - 07 (1280x720 x264 AAC) [ABB65BC2].mkv_snapshot_10.41_[2012.05.21_14.48.22] [Doremi-Oyatsu] Ginga e Kickoff!! - 07 (1280x720 x264 AAC) [ABB65BC2].mkv_snapshot_15.35_[2012.05.21_14.53.56] [Doremi-Oyatsu] Ginga e Kickoff!! - 07 (1280x720 x264 AAC) [ABB65BC2].mkv_snapshot_22.13_[2012.05.21_15.00.49]

I dare anyone to watch a few episodes of this show and not love it.  Because if you don’t, your cold, dead heart has surely shriveled to the size of a prune.

I can say after 7 episodes that Ginga e Kickoff pretty much as every base covered (sorry, wrong sport analogy) as a sports series.  It’s funny.  It has lovable characters.  It’s well-animated, with a great soundtrack and cast.  It’s insanely fun.  And it gets the sports pretty much just right.  It’s the kind of soccer anime you can love even if you’re not a soccer fan, the kind of sports anime you can love even if you’re not a sports fan, and one you’ll love even more if you happen to be either or both of those things.  If you are, shame on you if you’re not watching this – and for that matter, shame on anyone who isn’t watching it.  It’s your loss!

I confess I didn’t expect to hear “Hey – don’t eat the triplets!” but Ginga does have the ability to surprise.  The humor in this series is often like that – it comes out of left field (damn, are all my metaphors baseball-related?) and scores points for being unexpected.  I was also intrigued to hear Furuya Ryuuji’s comment to Kaguera that “All countries with Emperors are doomed to fall” – it seems like a very interesting choice of words for a Japanese audience.  Kouta continues to be the most interesting of the Trips for me, though.  The revelation that he hates Takuma Aoto-Gonzales because he scored three goals in their championship match the year before doesn’t speak to well of him. Petty jealousy is an ugly thing.

The object of much of Kouta’s derision is Reika-chan, fully supported by Shou and Erika but getting no love from the Triplets.  I thought Kouta’s comment that the team was “bearing a heavy burden” was especially petty and mean-spirited, but Reika fortunately isn’t the type to give up easily.  This ep was really more about fleshing out (sorry, but it’s the only word that fits) her character more.  She’s an ojou-sama, with a detached but pleasant mother who seems content to leave most of the parenting to the housekeeper Matsushima-san.  That’s a good thing, as Mama thinks her little girl is taking piano lessons while Reika is actually practicing soccer, and Matsushima-san is covering for her.

Again, this is an area where GeK scores major points over Area no Kishi.  We get to see just how hard this is for her – not just the abuse she takes from Kouta, but how physically hard it is for her to keep up with the other kids.  How hard it is for her to not be afraid of the ball, and how scared and embarrassed she is about letting everyone down on the pitch.  I really think this is a rare and positive thing in anime – an overweight kid not played for laughs, whose quest to get fit is neither miraculous not comical but a relentless, difficult slog.  The Furuyas can be hard to love and never more so than when they make her life difficult, but that’s the reality of school life and youth sports.

Speaking of, the soccer in this series generally and this episode generally is excellent.  In the first place Masaru-san is a terrific coach – he knows the game, but he also doesn’t smother the kids with too much strategy and technique.  He delicately spares Reika the embarrassment of playing before she’s ready and give all the players a chance to play every position in practice (you can see the joy this gives Shou, who’s no doubt been pigeonholed as a defender for his entire playing life).  Masaru let’s the kids be kids, giving them basic formations to work on and then letting Shou – an alarmingly bright little field general – give direction on the pitch.  And the formations are perfectly realistic, too – “Yoi”, the all-out downfield attack where everyone gets involved and movement is free-form.  “Big Tri”, where the Furuyas form a triangle and pass the ball in order to stretch the defense and clear shooting angles.  And “Build”, a sort of FC Barcelona style where the team keeps possession through short, continuous passing and slowly works their way up the field.  And as for Reika, it’s Shou who’s able to show her a way she can help the tem now – be a “wall”.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t stop the opponent – be in the right place and slow them down just enough.  Her time to do more will surely come soon enough.

Another element of this ep that I really loved is seeing the kids too excited to sleep the night before their first match.  I flashed back to my baseball days, and how excited I was the night before a game – that’s exactly what youth sports should make a kid feel like.  And how great was it to see Haruka-san tell Shou she was proud of him for being the Captain – the “Prime Minister” as she nicknames him?  It’s damn rare in anime to hear a parent tell a child they’re proud of them – and I like the fact that in this series Shou actually gets some reward for being such a good kid (he’ll be earning that praise trying to keep the Furuyas playing as part of the team, I’ll wager).  If I seem to be praising a lot it’s because I’m nuts for this show – it’s rare to see a series that just gets everything right, and one that’s so good-hearted and positive at that.  I love Urobuchi Gen, but it’s great to have a series that just makes you happy, too.  If there’s any show that can turn that desiccated prune back into a heart, this is the one.

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  1. L

    "The revelation that he hates Takuma Aoto-Gonzales because he scored three goals in their championship match the year before doesn’t speak to well of him, considering that they were teammates."

    They weren't teammates. Takuma was from Heavens, and scored 3 goals against the Predators (Kouta's team). The Predators won that match though, but Kouta is butthart because he scored less than Takuma (surely the other two triples scored enough goals to achieve victory anyway). I think Takuma and Kouta had the same position in their respective teams, so Kouta probably saw a personal rivalry against Takuma.

  2. Ah – thanks, I misinterpreted that.

  3. L

    I probably should clarify that I too think it's a bit petty of Kouta to hold a gruge agaist Takume just because of this, even if they weren't teanmates. And his attitude against Reika didn't help. But well, some kids are like that, and I expect him to grow and change over time anyway.

    Great review btw. I too am loving this series. If it can keep this up, it's pretty much a winner in my book.

  4. L

    Also it wasnt shou that told reika to be a "wall" it was ouzou (one of the triplets) that gave her advice on how she should conduct herself on the field and shou complimented her on that move. This surprised ryuuji because he asked him do you want her to be more confident? and ouzou responded that if she is not confident they will be in a pitch in the actual game.
    Personally I feel this is important because were starting to see how different the triplets are in terms of personality. Kouta is definitely hard-headed, Ryuuji is the spokeperson for the three of them and cunning, and Ouzou seems to be the one who expresses disapproval over the actions of his brother when it goes too far (even though he can be hard-headed as well too).
    This is seen in the scene when they discover reika practicing by herself and kouta takes the ball you can see ouzou disapproval of kouta action due to his facial reaction. Ouzou doesnt come out and say "stop it" or "your going too far" but he indirectly states his opposition by giving reika advice to improve her confidence on the field. Its clear this was a nice gesture on his part but its also establishing the differences between the brothers which I found to be very interesting in this episode.
    Overall I'm happy to see Reika standing up for herself and I can see that she will be a valuable member of the team. I cant wait to see the "official" members together!!!!!

  5. Yes, Ouzou is definitely the one who seems to disapprove of Kouta and he did whisper that in Reika's ear. But it was Shou who initially gave her the advice even if he didn't use the word "wall" – he told her, "stick a leg out, get in the way, slow them down".

  6. L

    Oh Ok I just thought you misunderstood and missed Ouzou advice and disapproval(credit needs to be given where its due) but thats ok I'm glad that was cleared up I guess I just felt that wasnt clear in your recap ^_^

  7. S

    Does this series have any confirmed episode count yet? I am interested in watching it, but not if it's going to last for a whole year, or more.

  8. I hope it does! As of now, I've seen no confirmed episode count at ANN, MAL, Syoboi or Anidb. Your guess is as good as mine.

  9. S

    Heh, I can understand not wanting the series to end if it's good.
    I hope Shirokuma Cafe can go on for 52 episodes or more.

  10. a

    I loved this episode so much! It definitely packs everything I initially wanted from Area no Kishi. It's great that they fleshed out the character of Rika and show the tiny improvements. It's so realistic how she tries to practice everyday but only got a little better. If she gotten thinner immediately, I don't think the impact of what she has done will be as great.

    The formations are awesome! Simple explanations but shows team work. I like how none of them are an ultimate skill that makes sports anime seem exaggerated. If I had to describe this anime, it's the sincerity and love for the sport. More than winning, it's about having fun.

  11. V

    While I like the action side of things, the practice match and the kids being kids but I also enjoy little conversation between Masaru and Kyoko. I don't know it's just lovey dovey without being cheesy.

    This show has amazing pace, I think as good as Space Brothers. It's quite hard to believe it's kid's show and it definitely deserves larger attention.

  12. Yeah, I didn't mention it but I loved that little conversation too. "You still smell – but it's a manly smell!"

  13. I

    "I dare anyone to watch a few episodes of this show and not love it. Because if you don’t, your cold, dead heart has surely shriveled to the size of a prune."

    Bit of a harsh assessment don't you think, though I know what you mean.

    Speaking of harshness why does Reika have to lose weight to become good at football anyway?
    There any many left anymore but there used to be a large number of overweight footballers in the previous century (primarily center backs) eg Arsenal legend and retired captain Tony Adams.

    Another simplistically great episode from Ginga but I couldn't help but think of the stigma of overweight characters (especially girls) in anime.

    Also great to see a lot more people following Ginga compared to a couple of weeks ago.

    1 Quality 0 Mainstream.

  14. I

    any = aren't

  15. If there's ever any tiny, tiny way I might have influenced a series' reception, maybe this could be it. For something like F/Z, let's face it – no blogger is spit in the ocean. But for Ginga, if I helped it get from 30 English-language viewers to 40 – that's a huge impact!

    Honestly, it's very very difficult for a person as heavy as Reika to be an effective footballer. It's not stigmatizing her by suggesting she needs to lose weight to play better – it's just reality. Tony Adams was no rake, but let's be honest – he's husky, he's not obese. It's simply difficult to run for 90 minutes when you're that much over your ideal weight.

  16. N

    So Kouta comes out as petty this episode, but on the other hand, he was against Reika joining not because she's fat and inexperienced, but because he found her reason for joining (dieting) shallow and disrespectful to the sport. Once she took back her previous statement and declared she wants to play because she loves the sport, and that it is more important to her than losing weight, and once she proved she is no longer scared of the ball, Kouta accepted her, even though she's still very over weight and still hardly knows her way around the ball. Not that I'm complaining, but this is the most unrealistic aspect of the show for me – the Furuyas, with all their supposed delinquency, are actually a lot nicer and accepting then real kids. Allowing Shou (who was the weakest player pre Reika) to become captain because he's 'the heart' of the team and accepting Reika because she genuinely loves the sports and shows she is willing to put in hard work and her heart is true – these things aren't really what kids do, as far as I can remember..

  17. A

    that really all depends NOT all children are like that. Each child has their own qualities and tendencies I think we cant generalize all children lol mainly from my experience children have surprised me over the years and have made me rethink about how I view children.

  18. Not to mention, the Furuyas also don't mind Shou being the Captain because he has to do more work. Plus, one of them being Captain might cause jealousy between the three of them. And I think you're going to find the Furuyas are very challenging to coach once the games start.

  19. e

    Ginga no Plump Prune Knight Enzo? Oooh juicy <3

    Well, Reika's hime cut is not the only ojou thing about her it seems *pinch pinch pinch* . Can I adopt her? Scratch it, I'd happily adopt the whole team. This series is bad for my 2D maternal instincts. Triplets included XD… especially with all the little differences between them being fleshed out *pinch pinch pinch*

    P.S. : don't tell anybody, but I'd take Ginga over Urobuchi any day. If I can't have both heart & brains in my entertainment I'm more inclined to watch a well done heart series over a brain one…

  20. R

    I loved this episode though. Kota being petty actually fits him pretty well. The triplets are at least a bit spoiled (a house that size in Japan? Loaded much) and not to mention obviously athletically talented. Ryuji is definitely the most mature out of them though. While it's obvious he's not 100% supportive of Reika either, he does at least try to help her out and doesn't antagonize her directly like Kota does.

    Kota though, from the beginning, has been shown to be somewhat arrogant (although surprisingly fair if the other person meets his expectations) so I was expecting him to bully Reika about her joining the team. What stopped me from hating him though, was the fact that he stuck to his ideals. He was mostly mad at Reika for not taking soccer seriously. If they hadn't shown that scene at the end where Reika proved that she wanted to get better and play with everyone, and Kota obviously let up on her after that and accepted her, I probably would've disliked him a lot more.

    And pettiness. You have no idea how petty and stubborn I was as a child, so I can honestly say, no Kota isn't really THAT petty. I was so much worse XDD

  21. A

    you got ryuuji confused for ouzou its ouzou that atleasts tries to help her out ^_^

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