Not since Tsuritama ended have I seen such an expression of pure joy communicated so brilliantly in anime.
- Tagi’s presence as the backstop of the team, both as a keeper and as a leader. He defines the "I have your back" mindset perfectly. What a great addition to the cast.
- Tagi’s friendship with Aoto, and his unending emotional support for Shou – who was the one Predator staying home to help him defend for most of the match.
- Misaki’s role. Don’t forget, Amarillo have a training partnership with her professional club – but she clearly lost her heart to Shou and Erika. Yet it was she who comforted Kageura at the end, and pointed out that a loss was the best thing for him. He was still by far the best player on the pitch.
- The blind soccer training, put to use by both Shou and especially Ouzou, when he was blinded by sweat.
- Aoto setting up the winning goal by clanking the ball off the crossbar – which we’ve seen him do as a practice obsession many times.
- And finally, Shou scoring on a header – which was the very first thing Hanashima-san taught him about soccer.
3-U back and watching from the stands, but the smaller squad means everyone gets a chance to stand out. I loved, for example, the moment when Erika smiled in the middle of the match when thinking about Shou, and Kouta’s easy deference to Aoto after Reika earned a PK. And Reika certainly has come a long way, blossoming in her role as Libero – cleverly set up as the one element that the ultra-thorough Amarillo coach didn’t catch in his scouting reports.
Japanese National Squad players from the GeK special in the booth.
phantom “Lightning” kick he showed us was quite unlike anything I’ve seen in sports anime – a moment where he was just a kid himself, a boy who loves soccer before anything else – expressing the feeling of every ex-player who coaches, surely, as he exclaimed “I want to play!” Even that supremely honest and genuine moment was topped, though, by his reaction after Shou scored the winning goal in extra time. That was pure, unadulterated happiness – one of the best coaching moments in sports anime history.
that moment was a reward for the audience as well as the character. The Tireless Terrier is finally the hero, though in his quiet way he’s been the hero all along. There would be no Momoyama Predators at all without his relentless efforts, and every one of his teammates (and his coach) knows it.