Ah, yes. The creators are really intending this to be a major match. Just look at the huge amount of time that went into this episode, just leading up to the kick-ff of the actual match. Considering that we’ve only got six episodes left, this might just be the start of the climax of this series. If that’s true, then we’re really in for an awesome climax. Six episodes will be plenty of time to really build up the tension, and progress the match. This series has already shown that its attention to detail is superb, it’ll really be able to show this off with a time in which you can actually fit ninety minutes.
This is also one of those details, but I love how the Dutch people don’t have typical Dutch last names, like “de Groot”, “de Wit”. That isn’t needed either: there are enough Dutch people walking around with strange last names (or German for that matter). This really establishes that this series is dealing with actual people, and doesn’t really care about stereotypes, while at the same time they do make sure to establish these people as foreigners. The Dutch people really are freakishly tall for Japanese standards. Tatsumi’s question about the bikes is bound to have been intended as a subtle jab at this (and yes, for the people who are wondering: we do indeed have more bikes than people. Everyone and his dog seems to have one).
In any case, this episode didn’t feel wasted at all: it really established how the Osaka team is one of the nation’s favourites, with four national players, they’re the tournament’s top scorer and have yet to be beaten. But that’s the beauty of these stories about professional soccer: it doesn’t make them unbeatable. If this were a high school series, one loss would mean that they would be out of the tournament. Because of this, the creators really were able to play with this losing streak of the ETU where despite two wins, they’ve mostly played in a draw or a loss.
I also feel that this is one of those very few series that can end anywhere. Obviously I’m hoping for a second season for this thing, but the lack of ultimate goal here pretty much enables the creators to wrap up the story after any arc, since there pretty much can’t be an actual ending that closes off all of the subplots: life will always go on, and times will always be hard for the ETU. The more we get to see of them of course, the better, but I doubt that this series will leave that empty feeling that other series do when they suddenly stop with their manga still ongoing.
Rating: ** (Excellent)