Balls. Lots of balls.
On the more serious note, the tone of the episode changes from after the draw against Tokyo Victory to the season pre-conference, where all the teams get together with the captains and the managers with each team releasing a statement for their goals of the upcoming season. As expected, Tatsumi releases a statement that East Tokyo United are the underdogs and it “would be sad” if they happened to win the league and beat all the other teams – establishing himself amongst other managers as the one to look out for. I kinda liked the aspect of foreign managers managing some of the teams, since that is true about most of the football leagues around the world. However, the anime established that the foreign managers are the “better” managers since they have that aura on them. Needless to say when all the managers looked at Tatsumi during his speech, you could see that each one had a sinister look and a feel that they would love nothing better than to crush ETU.
I thought that French guy with the big nose was just a “nosy” (yay for puns) foreigner interested in recruiting Tatsumi but it turns out that he’s the manager of the Japanese national team. I don’t know if Tatsumi knew that while he was talking to him but it was cool to see that they share the same views of football as each other while watching the blue team make a comeback from a goal down to overtake the red team. But the funny thing was that reaction from the woman – is it really that surprising to see managers enjoying time together. I think the anime tried to emphasize that club and national levels are different in terms of managing quality, but to me, they’re both the same. Whereas club managers have to work day-in and day-out for practice everyday and the game-weeks coming up, national managers have the leisure to go around different stadiums and just scout new national players for new national teams. By no means should people distinguish club managers and national managers. Of course, when World Cup comes around, the pressure is all on the national managers. But I somehow doubt that Manager Blanc would be able to do anything great with the national team.
So the last five minutes of the episode features the first game week with ETU against Javelin Iwata. Javelin Iwata FC is known for the exceptional passing and their old manager, who seems to know Tatsumi when he was a player. But no fear – the ETU fan club has made a huge-ass banner that covers the fans with a huge emblem of ETU. That wasn’t that surprising since I’m from Korea, the most “fan-supportive” footballing country in Asia. When it seems that ETU is dominating the game, a misguided chip from Javelin Iwata seems to hit the back of the ETU net, which I’ll assume to be the fault of 1) miscommunication 2) overconfidence from ETU and 3) a shitty keeper. The episode ends with everyone in shock, but I was expecting ETU to concede with their overconfidence.
Although I was expecting a boring press-conference video, it was pretty fun especially with the introduction of foreign German and French managers. Notably, Tatsumi’s speech was pretty confident but the appearance of the previous manager certainly ruined it for me. Looks like a sneaky little bastard… but more importantly, I liked the different languages involved as well as Fujisawa Katsura, the exclusive reporter for ETU, which shows that the anime will cover soccer from more than one angle. A goal down, but I have no doubt that Tatsumi has something up his sleeve – I mean, he did just spend the whole night studying the other team, and the match has just started. I predict a 2-1 narrow win for ETU. But I am open to a draw or a loss to see what Tatsumi will do to the players…