Saturday, January 28, 2012

Area no Kishi - 04

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Three episode rule or not, I’m still not sure where I stand with Area no Kishi even after four.

I certainly wasn't surprised to find out that Grey was Nana – that seemed pretty obvious to me from the first time we saw her. But the much more interesting question is this – how did she know Kakeru was going to start practicing at the park that very night? Has she been staking out his house, Yuno-style, waiting for him to appear with a soccer ball? Hanging out at the park every night, hoping he’ll show up? I hope it’s not the latter – even in a country as safe as Japan that’s not a very good idea for a middle-school girl.

I’m not entirely thrilled with the metaphysical angle the series seems to be taking. This whole business of “The Heart Speaks” – organ transplant recipients taking on the behavior of the donor… I know there are people who believe in that sort of thing and I always try to keep an open mind, but I would say that such a belief is pretty far outside the realms of anything medical science can tell us today. I think the concept of Suguru living on through his brother is a valid and even powerful dramatic device, but I’d much rather see it inferred in the odd glance here, the silent memory there (think of the way Adachi used Akane to suggest Wakaba in Cross Game as an example of what I mean). I really think treating it so literally as the series seems to be intending to do sucks a lot of the drama and poetry out of the notion, and it doesn’t help that the psychiatrist Mine-sensei is coming off as a bit of a crackpot, and not a very likable one at that. This whole plot point would seem to have much more potential as symbolism than literalism.

Be that as it may, the cat is out of the bag now and however Area no Kishi deals with the idea, it’s clearly here to stay. I think Nana was definitely out of line in telling Kakeru that the heart in his chest is Suguru’s. She certainly didn’t know he would take the news, and at the very least that’s something for his parents to decide – though she meant well, and in any case I think telling him at some point is the right thing to do. After an initial shocked reaction and a lot of tears, Kakeru seems to have turned the corner and decided that he’s glad to have his brother’s ticker – helped along by a chance meeting with Brazilian U-15 star and Suguru-friend Leonardo Silva (Shiratori Tetsu – please note that the name is not “Silver” as the Crunchyroll subs had it) at Suguru’s grave. Leo told Kakeru that Suguru had shared his view that Kakeru was the “Knight in the Area” he’d dreamed of – and when Kakeru finally breaks down and reads Suguru’s diary later, he confirms this with his own eyes and the meaning of Suguru’s “Last Pass” is rather poignantly revealed.

It appears that Kakeru (how about that cool referee’s whistle ringtone?) is off to Enoshima High School next week, and we’re in for a major time skip. I haven’t read ahead in the manga but I was certainly under the impression that the middle-school arc lasted much longer that this – perhaps it’s a concession to scheduling realities that Shin-Ei is aware of but we’re not (I still haven’t seen an official episode count, which leads me to believe it’s undecided – early ratings have been low, but the manga saw a huge increase in sales last week). Joining him there will be Nana, which leads me to hope that we see some romantic development – Kakeru and Nana together are my favorite part of the series so far – and that Enoshima has a girls team. Because unlike hardball, soccer is s sport that girls can pursue all the way to the World Cup and professional ranks in a big way if they have the talent. Also at Enoshima is going to be Araki Ryuichi, the same age as Suguru was and possibly as great a playmaker – a “Fantasista” as Suguru called him, the Italian term for the great #10s who act as a conductor for the orchestra on the pitch. Araki indeed looks to be the new King to Kakeru’s Knight…

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3 comments:

  1. Did anyone else know that the team in red uniforms when kakeru was in suguru's room crying and then reading his diary was Arsenal FC. An English football club and one of the biggest in the world. Their shirts had the same format, although the sponsor was wrong, I could tell who 4 of the players were and the coach. As a fan its great that real teams are used in anime like this.

    Im pretty much set on watching this from the get go, though I think there certainly is a lot of room for improvement.

    I dont think this is gonna be anything like an Adachi style story as there seems to be little of the subtelty or character construction we see in his works.

    It actually reminds me more of Overdrive, a cycling anime that came out several years ago.

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    1. I remember Overdrive well, I rather liked it. Not a bad comparison, although Overdrive had a little more of a (sometimes very) offbeat sense of humor.

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    2. Its really the character designs that reminded me of Overdrive. I liked it too and I feel that this will be similar but without the humor or Mikoto's delusions. Sort of more innocently boyish. A sunday morning show for 9-13 year old boys is the sort of demograph this show was aimed for in my opinion. The manga is more shounen though (there is a difference, somewhere).

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