Giant Killing 22 – Stalling for Time
This says it all about the look Gino gives to Natsuki . . . and my reaction to this episode, really. I mean, it’s not bad, but it definitely feels like a halftime show, and there isn’t much of interest until they get back into the game near the end point of the episode. The locker room stuff is kind of meh. Sugie, Kuroda and the rest of the defense realize where they screwed up, Tatsumi comes in and speaks as enigmatically as usual and everyone is off on their merry way. And the fan culture clash continues, but the game interested me a hell of a lot more, so meh.
As Tatsumi predicted, however, the players really did seem to get it the moment they stepped out onto the field. The defense is much more loose and free-flowing in the second half, able to use their advantages to their fullest extent. Kuroda continues to get under Hauer’s skin and frustrate the big Dutchman by attacking down low and exploiting Hauer’s weak footwork. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, Sugie seems to be taking advantage of his strength by playing as rough with Kubota as is allowed by the refs. Nothing wrong with a bit of bumping to throw off someone’s concentration, after all.
I could see Osaka getting maybe one more goal near the end of the game just to make it a bit tougher for ETU to come back, but scoring from here on out clearly will not be easy for the Gunners with ETU’s defense flying around like that and getting to every loose ball. But ETU has shown often in the past that its defense is capable of putting the clamps on any opponent, so that is obviously not where the main conflict in the second half was going to originate.
Nope, the big problem — as has been the case the entire season for ETU — is with the offense. They still need to get on the same page, and specifically, Natsuki needs to get his act together, especially since it seems as if Gino has sufficiently recovered from whatever was ailing him in the first half. Apparently before the game, Tatsumi told Natsuki that Natsuki did not have enough determination as a forward, which strikes me as strange. I’m sure there will be some flashback or another to explain just what drew Tatsumi to this conclusion, but right now it has me scratching my head.
Maybe, though, it’s some sort of reverse Sera situation? Before the game, Tsubaki noticed that Sera was the one who was all pumped up, whereas Natsuki was quaking in his cleats. When Natsuki originally came back from his injury, he was super confident, showing off in practice and then scoring a goal almost immediately upon return in his first game. Sera feared for his spot on the team, but then resolved to go at everything harder than ever, particularly when he got injured and then returned. Maybe that push has Natsuki questioning himself a bit?
That doesn’t totally make sense to me, though, especially since both Natsuki and Sera are playing right now. Has Natsuki scored at all since that first game? Maybe the scoreless drought could have put a dent in his confidence. Who knows.
Well, whatever the case, I am sure there will be more head pats to come.