Ginga e Kickoff–19-20

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A wild fansubber appeared.

It had to happen sooner or later, with a show this good – it’s in the bloodstream, like a virus.  We have a second subbing group at last, Reika – and like Oyatsu, their work is high-quality.  So feel confident in grabbing these new episodes – as for me, I’ll take my Ginga any way I can get it and it’s awesome to get a big infusion of the show after so long.  Since this is arguably the most consistent show of the last two seasons (along with Tsuritama) you should have a good idea what to expect.

As for these two episodes, it’s pretty much an all-out avalanche of pubescent GAR – the male pride (plus Erika and Reika, of course) flies through the air like missiles (or Aoto-Gonzalez free kicks).  The episode gets off to a low-key start with Shou-kun’s mom and sister treating him to cake in honor of his first goal, which I thought was a nice touch, given that they didn’t seem to be present to see it live.  We also get some very funny stuff with Kyouko-san being persuaded by the Furuyas Dad (who I should haven mentioned earlier is played by the excellent Morikawa Toshiyuki) to try and cook for Masaru-san-chan, with predictably disastrous results (so horrific, the mess she made of the kitchen was pixelated).

Really though, these two eps are all about Takuma Aoto-Gonzalez, the pint-sized soccer genius who blows through the series like a typhoon, leaving no one unaffected.  Blonde, blue-eyed, angelic and petite, Aoto-kun’s looks are deceiving – he has moves than put even Kouta to shame.  The triplets are all worked up, obviously – even the normally implacable Ouzou – but Aoto’s influence is profound.  If Shou’s not careful he’s going to lose Erika, whose head has definitely been turned, and even Masaru-san can only watch slack-jawed as the tiny terror unleashes his Maradona-like arsenal in easing past seven defenders, and be put in mind of how much he misses being a young phenom himself.

Ouzou and Masaru-san both figure prominently in the first of these episodes.  Ouzou is the most interesting of the Furuyas most of the time, and here he bemoans sharing the same DNA as his hot-headed brothers, who obsess about besting Aoto in single combat (especially Kouta).  But even Ouzou, the best defender of the three, can’t stop Aoto by man-marking (turns out the only way the Predators defeated the Heavens last year was by triplet-teaming him) and this failure clearly lights a fire under him, though he tries not to let his displeasure show.  As for Masaru, I’m reminded once again of just what a great youth coach he is – maybe my favorite in all of anime.  He has a great talent for keeping the focus positive without dismissing the importance of winning, and he’s always finding a way to make the game fun for his kids.  Last time it was “The Hunt”, this time it’s a scoring war – recognizing (thanks to Furuya-san’s DVD) that the weakness of Heavens is defense, especially given that Aoto-kun has no interest in playing any (or passing).

It’s not just on the characters that Aoto impacts Ginga, but the tone of the show itself.  These episodes feel more like a pure shounen than ever – albeit a very smart and uncommonly subtle one – what with the intense personal battles and Aoto’s super-powered moves.  And Heavens clearly know what they have in Aoto – they built their team around his selfish genius.  He even has a pair of enforcers who spring to his defense like Gretzky’s bodyguards when the Furuyas approach the little superstar before the game.  The Achilles heel though, spotted by both Shou and Masaru, is the goalkeeper – Shou sees him as much weaker than the one Predators faced the year before.  And that one can only be Aoto’s best friend Tagi, who agonizes over every blown save by his replacement.  Presumably he’s still playing basketball, but at some point the OP tells us that he and Aoto both will succumb to the Tireless Terrier’s persuasion and become his football acolytes.  Maybe this game is what pushes them over the edge?

As Momoyama-san leads the Predators faithful in cheers like a high-school girl, something very interesting happens on the field – something we haven’t seen once in 20 episodes.  Kouta-kun mans up – he recognizes not just that Aoto is a beast, but that he’s the better player – and volunteers to switch back to a defensive position and man-mark Aoto himself, using his striker instincts to decode the minute Maradona’s moves.  This is an eye-opener – Kouta was really the last holdout for selfish play, and outshining Aoto seemed to be his greatest desire.  It seems to reflect a turning point in Ginga e Kickoff, where Shou’s persistent unselfishness has finally won over the last of the holdouts, and everyone has bought into the team concept (just as Masaru’s old coach preached). 

Mind you, the first half is still a rough road – even after Kouta switches onto him Aoto still does some damage, Shou scores an own goal (the “defender’s fate” as Erika so rightly calls it – there was nothing he could have done) and Heavens lead 4-3 at halftime.  But Masaru has drafted a plan, and it means sending Erika forward to utilize her speed, putting Ouzou in the striker position and moving Ryuji back to midfield (among other changes) – and Ouzou has used his time away from marking Aoto to spot a few trends he can put to use.  Presumably the second half is going to be an even more wide-open attacking battle, with even Reika given the go-ahead to attack.  And was that Shou I saw taking a corner in the preview?

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12 comments

  1. e

    Hehe. I'm still grinning. Good thing episode #21 is out already, this match has been just so interesting so far. Boy, I've missed this show so much. And I have the tiiiiiiiiiniest suspicion you have been too. Congrats on managing to sneak some more blogging so close to your departure.

    P.S.: that was a very flattering chara design for Maradona wasn'it? XD

  2. He'd been dieting… 😉

  3. K

    " If Shou’s not careful he’s going to lose Erika, whose head has definitely been turned"

    Erika's head was never turned in Shou's direction in the first place. That phrase gave me some "objectification" vibes for some reason, even though I know you were propably joking.

  4. I don't really see speculating on a little puppy love as objectifying – it's not as if I suggested she was his property. By sixth-grade standards, their friendship doesn't look all that different from a romance.

  5. K

    Yeah but the whole Shou "is going to lose" Erika was a bit.. What does that even mean, She is not an item They are friends and on the same team. I agree with you on the romance-friendship part though

  6. R

    I don't know about that. You can "lose" friends, and that's honestly how I would put it. And you can lose lovers or family as well, so…I'm honestly not sure what you meant either XD

  7. K

    You lose them when they die or when you no longer connect to them. Erika's obvious attraction to Aoto has no effect on her friendship with Shou

  8. I think fate caused the term "tempest in a teapot" to be invented just so I could use it right now.

  9. K

    Yeah but don't you agree that a small "mistake" in a review or an article can ruin the whole think even if it's mostly good? I'm sorry if I seemed like a douche, I tried to comment on something that rubbed me the wrong way. Your Ginga posts are usually very enjoyable.

  10. In my opinion there was no mistake, and in no way, shape or form do I think I said anything remotely inappropriate.

  11. R

    THANK GOODNESS FOR NEW SUBBERS. Episode 21 is out and roaring already and just let me keymash for a bit

    AKJFS;SSF!)#FSDPOJEWF

    Best actual match in a long time, and I think the first that the Predators have REALLY had a hard time with, even after pulling together and going all out. Of course what interested me more was our giant kid Emperor mentioning participating in an international competition (third cour please kay thanks).

    That aside, the music when Aoto went up for the attack was guitar rocking awesome. And I love watching the triplets finally put the team before themselves. Everything's coming together beautifully.

  12. N

    Erika says the Heavenly's coach rejected her for being a girl, but to me it seems that there is a girl in that team, or at least a very feminine looking player..?

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