Posted on 26 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Giant Killing




Giant Killing, my favourite airing show of the past three months and likely to be my favourite sports anime (if board games aren’t sports). It’s a breath of fresh air in its execution, and a delight to watch from start to finish with a well developed cast that just sparkles with personality.

From the outside it may seem like a bit of an unimpressive football series, but it turns out to provide a unique look into the world of professional soccer, and it doesn’t ignore anything: aside from the players, it also gives ample attention to all kinds of supporters, the press, photographers, coaches, management, everyone involved is portrayed as a character and important to the series. The cast here is incredibly diverse, allowing everyone to stand out, rather than blend in. Credit also goes to the character-designers, who gave every single character in the series his own look.

I also feel that this is the series that shows one of the bewst portrayals of “there is no I in team”. It’s indeed true that Tatsumi is a brilliant coach, and there are a few brilliant players, but the series is entirely different from all of the teams in fiction that are just built around one player. Instead, everyone has the points at which he’s good and the points at which he’s terrible, and throughout 26 episodes, this series really tries to put as many people under the loop as possible. It really tries to do as much as possible in every episode in terms of characterization, and this really makes the huge cast come alive. It’s not like there’s one character that stands out, and instead it’s the characters together that form a very addictive whole.

Because it continues to explore its characters, evenin the quietest parts, there hardly is any part about this serise that’s not interesting, but the soccer matches, and especially the long ones, are where this series truly shines. It’s not that they’re the most unpredictable out there, you can pretty much predict the outcomes. Everything apart from that however is a huge roller-coaster ride, especially the final match that forms the climax of this series. It’s a match that’s constantly cyhanging and evolving, utilizing as many characters (including the opponents!) as possible.

This is really how a series without a big animatio budget should be done. Giant Killing can drink many of its big budgetted counterparts under the table with its incredibly detailed and addictive storytelling. It also is the series that is the single best at handling foreign languages, out of any anime I’ve ever seen: French, English, Dutch, Portugese, this is a really international anime that portrays foreigners as they are, rather than as the xemophobic stereotypes you usualyl see in anime. It’s not like this series has one particular character that is really well developed. What it does have, though, is dozens of characters with their own charms, quirks and flaws who subtly change over the course of the story.

Storytelling: 10/10 – Utilizes every minute to put as much detail into its cast and football matches. Addictive beyond belief.
Characters: 9/10 – Lots of characters, who are all diverse and sparkle with personality, and are explored really well throughout the series.
Production-Values: 8/10 – The animation isn’t stellar and it uses a lot of shortcuts, the series has a unique look nevertheless. The music is also simple but mesmerizing.
Setting: 9/10 – An excellent portrayal of professional football and everything around it.

Suggestions:
Shion no Ou
One Outs (It’s similar, although much less awesome)
Baccano!

Posted on with categories: Giant Killing



First of all I want to say that this episode ended with a completely new ED, and it really could not have fitted better. What a great and original way to close off this series.

In any case, the previous episode featured the climax of this series, so this episode had all its time for an epilogue, and it really turned out to be quite a unique closure for this series. Most series take things easy and slow down the pacing, but damn, so many things happened in this episode: we saw three matches, and the entire second half was dedicated to a bit of a curry party. At first this episode seemed very random, but it came together wonderfully in the end.

As an epilogue, you could really see that there was a lot that this episode tried to do, and it really succeeded. First of all it showed that the match against Osaka was nowhere near the end: they’re going to keep playing and growing, shown by how Akasaki was selected for Japan’s Olympic team. At the same time, this episode meant to summarize the themes of the entire series, and it did so through that curry party. For one it was hilarious to see Tatsumi order everyone to take part in it, but it really highlighted the themes of Giant Killing: teamwork and having fun.

I consider this to be an excellent example of a series that still is somewhere in the middle of its on-going manga, but found itself a perfect place o stop. Of course I’d really like a second season, but if this ends up to be the end of the series then I’m not feeling down about it at all, and the past episodes were an excellent ending.

Before the past Spring season started, I expected nothing from this series, but its first episode really blew me away. During the Spring Season, it was a tad overshadowed by Noitamina, but throughout the past three months it has been consistently my favourite airing series and I had a lot of fun blogging it.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 19 September 2010 with categories: Giant Killing



So this is it: the climax of Giant Killing (next episode will be some sort of epilogue, I guess), and THANK GOD it was every bit as awesome as I hoped. It was just one rush of adrenaline from start to finish, Dulfer’s team played to its full potential (it even switched out its attackers to focus on defence), the use of music was perfect (the creators even used a track that they hadn’t used before at), and I loved every minute of this episode.

I mean, I’m not going to deny that the outcome of these matches are predictable. We know that goals will be made. What makes this show so addictive though are the questions of “who?” and “how?”. This is especially why this final match kicks ass beyond belief: in every single episode, the creators pick out different members of the team to get their place in the spotlight, either because of their actions or by delving into their heads. This is a match that was constantly evolving with so much dynamics that I haven’t seen in any other sports series so far.

This time, it’s finally time for Gino to shine by, along with Sugi in order to make the second goal. Natsuki in the meantime only proves that he picked his role back up: he doesn’t end up in the spotlights. Instead, most of the credits for the final goal go to Murakoshi, for opening up the way to the enemy half, and Sera, for finally getting the chance and pulling off the stupid stunt that got in that third goal. And even beyond that, the creators never neglected the support of the rest of the team to get them there, with the possible exception of the Keeper since Osaka got no shots at the goal in this episode.

I really hope that this isn’t the last we get to see of sports series that focus on professionals, rather than high schoolers. They can lead to completely different series, and series that are based on adults have a ton of stuff that high school sport series don’t have, and vice versa. In this age in which the Japanese economy is doing poorly and there are more and more moe and bishie series, I’m really glad to see that there are still series like this one that try to be different in presentation, art, storytelling and execution. This final arc was really the perfect way to close off this series, and the results were really magnificent, and I can only hope for more series like this.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 12 September 2010 with categories: Giant Killing



I hate the cliff-hangers of this series with passion. I mean, keeping a hook until next week is one thing, but the tension is killing me here. The creators here have this tendency to cut off at the most tense episode of the series. This is just unbelievable: this entire episode was building up for something that happens two seconds after the end of the episode.

Aside from the usual tension, this episode really made the characters shine in so many different ways. I loved all those moments that were focused on character antics, ranging from Akasaki celebrating his goal to Hauer punching Kuroda because he had gotten so annoying (especially the way in which Tatsumi noted that Kuroda had a talent for annoying people). Most of the time, my favourite series of each season are dark, with quite a bit of angst, death and destruction. Giant Killing however is completely different. It’s an incredibly bright and fun series that hits just about all the right buttons.

I can only imagine how awesome the next episode is going to be: it’s there where everything in this series is going to have to come together: with twelve episodes left, and Tsubaki’s chance to score 2-2 ruined because of that defender who is really really tired, the match is at a point at which anything can happen now. I also love how this match is evolving with every single episode: first everything was focused on stopping the onslaught of attackers, most notably Kubota, then the focus moved to Natsuki as an attacker, and now this episode, instead of focusing on Tsubaki, it focused on Dulfer’s strategy collapsing and the main dilemma he has to face: what is more important, your ideals or winning every match you’re in? The long term versus the short term.

NB. This is also something I noticed as I started making screenshots, but the camera angles in this episode were really good here: they were varied, creative, and really helped to bring up the best in the characters. The animation in this series is generally nothing to write home about, but there are these rare scenes that are actually animated quite well and smooth.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 5 September 2010 with categories: Giant Killing



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)

Posted on 30 August 2010 with categories: Giant Killing



Most of this episode was half-time, but it still was an awesome one. The creators really know how to create tension here, with 35 minutes of the match left and still nobody managed to score. The characters in the meantime are as fun as ever. It also helps that Tatsumi continues to hype his own game with his seemingly endless confidence.

Still, you can see that after the despair of the previous episode, the defence is starting to get together. With 31 minutes however, the problem is indeed Natsuki. He indeed was a bit different from usual in this game, though I never really thought of why this was. The end of this episode however revealed that Tatsumi made quite a devastating comment about his determination. With that I completely understood why he had been running around like a chicken during the past episodes. I guess that Tatsumi wanted to motivate Natsuki, but here’s one thing that seemed to backfire. And interestingly, despite all of the build up of the previous episodes, we still didn’t get to see anything from Sera.

In any case, I’m still surprised at how well the chemistry turned out here. All of the attention that the series has put into the different characters is really paying off right now, and something tells me that the next few episodes will give the rest of the cast beyond the defenders their time to shine. It’s a shame though, I really don’t see huge DVD-sales for this series, so I really doubt that there’s going to be a second season.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 22 August 2010 with categories: Giant Killing



Oh, I’m loving this series more and more. Even though this was meant to be just a building up episode (its goal was to create as much despair as possible without making the match nearly impossible to win again), it still rocked and I enjoyed every minute of it. That’s really what I’m looking for in an awesome series.

At this point, the entire cast is just so fun to watch, and not to mention that the creators really have put them against an awesome opposing team that sparkles with personality as well. This episode also really took its time to flesh out the team, and explain the biggest reason in why they’re so dominant: Kubota. Quite an interesting character. And the interesting thing is this: yes, Osaka was completely dominant in this episode. And yet this episode gave away a few hints at how the second half of the match will not be as one-sided. I’m talking about the point at which Dulfer says that the guy didn’t have the stamina to really stand out as a defender. And yet here he was running all over the field. My guess is that this guy is going to get tired, and I think that that’s what Tsubaki is waiting for.

The forwards were also interesting here: a few attacks were made, but it looks like Natsuki isn’t really sharp, while Gino has trouble placing his shots well enough for Tsubaki to take advantage of them. Is this on purpose? I suspect the latter to be the case. The final minutes of the episode were also nerve-wrecking. The characters finally had this chance… and yet the whistle blew. It wasn’t as cheesy that they would have definitely scored if it wasn’t for that whistle, but still, it could have turned the tides.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 16 August 2010 with categories: Giant Killing



I’m really glad to see that everything just worked perfectly in this episode. The banter between the different characters was absolutely hilarious, the match itself was very exciting despite its predictability, the characters shined more than ever here, the Osaka team itself is just awesome to watch in their relentless onslaught. If anything, Giant Killing has the climax that I’m looking forward to the most this season.

Hauer’s accent is hilarious. His voice actor isn’t as good as with Dulfer, but I can now somewhat understand what your regular anime voice actors may sound like to Japanese people. The thing is, most Dutch guys have a bit of a monotone voice. This guy, whoever he may be, speaks with so much passion in his voice though that it becomes hilarious. He also has this really weird but awesome sense of dramatically stopping for a split second in the middle of his sentences. Take for example the line “Je hebt me…. BELEDIGD HE!”, which can be translated to “You have…. INSULTED ME!”. Imagine saying that with the passion of an Italian soap opera actor.

But yeah, that could be the whole point. We’ve got a number of famous Dutch soccer players who are notorious for their strange personalities, so why not?I’m not sure whether the creators actually intended this, but I love this guy. In one way, he’s really trying to look cool, especially considering his huge posture. And yet the way he keeps his hair so cool and the huge accent end up only backfiring, making him look a bit adorable in a strange kind of way.

Either way though, I’m very surprised at what this episode decided to focus on. Of course it’s something we could have expected, but it didn’t occur to me until now: after all of the build-up the previous arc did towards the battle of the battle of the forwards, we actually didn’t get to see them at all in this episode. Instead, this episode was all about the defence, with Kuroda at the center.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 8 August 2010 with categories: Giant Killing



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)

Posted on 1 August 2010 with categories: Giant Killing



YES! YES! The Dutch coach has returned! Now this is really going to give this show the potential to become even better than it already was. The next match against Osaka should really prove to be awesome, and not just because that means that there’s going to be a ton of Dutch in the next number of episodes.

But yeah, I really have to say that this series has the best use of foreign language of any anime series I’ve seen. We had entire conversations in Dutch and french in this episode, and while I can’t speak for the accuracy of the French accent, the Dutch one was really nailed. Dulfer does speak with a lot more passion than your average Dutch guy, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if they got a voice actor who actually lived in the Netherlands for a while. The accent of his translator was abysmal, like you would expect of a native Japanese, and I think that most Dutch people probably would have to ask him twice in order to really understand what he means, though it’s easy to get used to when you spend a lot of time with him.

I’m also very excited to see how much detail has gone into the character designs of the Osaka team. There were a ton of players whose character-designs received as much attention as the lead characters, and even the ones in the background all had distinct ones. If anything, this promises that the creators have great plans, and this might be an even bigger match than the one against Sapporo.

In the meantime, it’s really hard to imagine what the upcoming arc is going to focus on, since so many stuff happened in this episode at the same time. The only thing I’m able to put money on is that the ETU will be victorious, but how and why… I have no bloody clue. This episode continues the battle of the forwards by healing Sera’s leg, and hinting at how the second half was much better played, though leaves it for us viewers to imagine whether or not there was any correlation between these events. On the same time, this episode grabbed some more characters who haven’t had their own arc yet: the forward mid-fielders aside from Gino. This episode just didn’t want to say whether they just had a standalone conflict because everyone was pissed off by the goal against, or whether the show is to continue developing their characters.

Then there also was this thing that this series loves to use: Tatsumi apparently announced a crazy strategy, based on the expressions of all of the players. Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear it as viewers, and instead we just have to wait for it to actually happen. Either way though, I’m really getting hungry for more.

Oh, and I also really loved that scene in which the team got into that fight, as it just showed how everyone had different reactions. Seriously, the cast of this show is huge, and I love how this series plays around with characters with a huge variety of different ages, with only three characters not being adults. That scene really showed how all of the players in the team are unique, and how even when they’re together in a group they still stand out.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:32 AM)
    If a series wants to be sophisticated about complex concepts like war and conflict, then it has to presuppose the fact that it is part of human nature. Resources are limited, and even aside from that, greed exists. There is no way to take out a few head figures to stop a war- there will be a vacuum that will almost immediately be filled by a similar, if not worse, individual. A world “where no one cries” or suffers, or dies, etc, cannot exist as long as we have free will.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:26 AM)
    F/SN delved into this deeply with the Shirou/Archer dichotomy, but then it pussied out at the decisive moment. Archer was right, his arguments made perfect sense, yet the arrogant naive Shirou had to pull thru by sheer will alone, and a vague hope and promise that he’ll find a way somehow. I swear, I’m not sure if Nasu gave in to pressure to make a so-called “good prevails” ending, or that he honestly believes in it. Looking at his material, I’ll bet on the former.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:22 AM)
    hehe … that’s why you don’t get me started on Eva or Berserk.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:20 AM)
    It also delved into the depth of what a desperate goodie-two-shoes people-pleaser protagonist would actually be like, and the reception he would get from his peers, specially the women. That alone right there was a deconstruction of the majority of shonen main characters.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:00 AM)
    There was no hype machine back then. The internet was still in its infancy. So when a show became this popular there was certainly some merit to it. The organic/machine hybrid mecha was relatively new, and the scene construction and cinematography was for the most part immaculate. There’s a reason why the mecha genre is divided to “pre-Eva” and “post-Eva”.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:53 AM)
    It also didn’t hurt that the character, costume and mecha designs were slick and attractive, done by the under-appreciated Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:31 AM)
    It came up with clever scenarios to common mecha tropes, and answered the questions that would arise from them:
    -Why do we use mechas with melee weapons against alien invaders instead of conventional weapons? AT fields on Angels.
    -Why use kids to pilot them? The Gehrin Project.
    -What happens when you put kids in sever combat situations? Extreme PTSD.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:27 AM)
    These types of deconstruction shows that are run-of-the-mill now didn’t really exist back then. Eva did afterall became the tropemaker for Gainax endings. To see the creator’s psyche twist in front of our eyes was incredible. The show went from a regular monster of the week mecha series to a deranged psycho-thriller by the end of it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:23 AM)
    Eva was fresh and quite unique for its time. Not that everything they did was original, but they certainly put their own twist on it. I also enjoyed the “fuck-you” ending of the tv series. Anno always defended it as intentional, but we all know it was really a budgetary constrain. well, at least we got the amazing End of Evangelion movie to supplement it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:21 AM)
    @K-of: yup Eva geek here, guilty as charged. In my defense, I watched it week-to-week when it aired back in 96, and the landscape of anime was a lot different back then.

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