Giant Killing 18 – Fighting Words
Not entirely sure how I feel about skipping the entire second half of the match against Niigata. It’s an OK way to save time, I guess (I’d be curious to know if the same thing is done in the manga), and it does add a bit of mystery to how exactly the team has gelled after the locker room confrontation, but it’s always better to actually see things rather than be informed about them after the fact. Oh well.
The locker room fight in this episode is inevitable; I’m actually surprised it didn’t happen sooner, but the negative feelings probably needed to boil a bit in combination with the team being close to victory but falling short for a number of weeks. Regardless, a big conflict is clearly what was needed. Few people were on the same page; many had different ideas for what the team should be doing, and varying standards as to how high ETU should be aiming. Tatsumi definitely sees the lack of cohesion in his team from the tie in the previous episode.
They’re all adults; they’re all professionals. While Kiyokawa and Ishihama might be happy getting by with ties, there is no doubt that they would rather be winning. That they defend themselves against Akasaki instead of sitting back and taking his shit is a good sign — it shows they care, that they take enough pride in their roles to fire back when someone calls them out. At the same time, though, Akasaki does have a point, even if he is an asshole about it. With the way the team reacts in the second half, it seems they’re adult enough as a whole to leave the negative feelings behind in the locker room and work on improving ever more.
As a former player (not to mention a man with a very distinct personality, haha), Tatsumi has probably seen plenty of sketchy team situations resolve themselves after a much-needed locker room spat. He also sees that the makeup of the team with its split between the elder statesmen and the new blood lends itself to the occasional battle for power and influence on the team. They have different ideas on how to do things, and that’s OK, as long as they’re being open about it and not sniping at each other secretly and disrupting the team. If Tatsumi seriously thought that the fight would do anything to further harm the team’s morale, he probably would have nipped it in the bud quickly.
Now that ETU is back on the right page, there’s an important match against Osaka coming up, and it wouldn’t shock me for this match to get a majority of the remaining episodes, given how strongly the offense is built up (along with the flashback to the coach meeting Tatsumi). Osaka looks formidable on first glance, but every team has its weakness, of course, and Tatsumi has already come up with a solid strategy it seems.
There’s also the added wrinkle of the national manager, Blanc, attending the game. Osaka probably has a fair number of players representing Japan (while ETU apparently has none; not even the Prince is good enough for the national team, I guess, probably because of his lackadaisical attitude), but Blanc is interested in how Tatsumi will approach the game against this team. Maybe someone like Tsubaki, the Prince or someone else will show Blanc something that will get them at least some consideration for a spot on the national team.
Solid episode, and I’m definitely looking forward to the Osaka match. With a team that’s always thinking about offense, the game will probably be an intense experience.