Aargh! Stupid cliff-hangers!
I mean… wow. The way this show builds up tension is just amazing. I mean, I can’t stress enough how nerve-wrecking this episode was, and it was just meant as a build-up! It was pretty much all about Natsuki, a character who had just been introduced, less than ten episodes ago. I really did not expect him to steal the show this way.
At this point, I’ve seen quite a few sports series already, and it really is an excellent genre: I hardly ever watched one that didn’t work. I used to be very biased against the series, but when I actually got to try out one of them, I quickly realized how completely stupid my biases were as I discovered a number of amazing sports series. And yet, despite such a high standard (and with “Shion no Ou” not counted as “sport”), at this point I’m willing to label Giant Killing as the best sports series I have ever seen. It rocks at everything: the characters, the tension, the chemistry, the depth, the entertainment. The animation is the only part at which it isn’t amongst my favourites this season, but in exchange it does have excellent character-designs with a unique graphics style, so even there it could be forgiven.
I also loved how this episode took something so obvious as “the ball belongs to the team, and not to you”, and went much further in this. Alone it would indeed have been a bit of a cheesy saying, but it becomes actually pretty interesting when related to Natsuki: I really put my money on how he was once one of those guys who took these crazy egotistical risks while understanding that at the same time the ball belonged to the team, but right now this 8-month leave changed him significantly. He’s no longer able to take the crazy risks due to his fear of getting injured again and having to spend 8 months out yet again (something I actually can relate to a bit).
It’s a bloody shame that the DVD sales are terrible, though, but this had it coming, unfortunately. In Japan, football just isn’t as popular as baseball, and it has very little to do with traditional Japanese culture. Still, I really believe that this show has a market internationally, especially in the countries in which football is really big. It’s a series that will be near-impossible to dub, but I feel that this is one of those series made with an international audience in mind, rather than just a Japanese one.
Rating: *** (Awesome)