Captain Tsubasa (2018) Episode 11 & 12 [Aw Christ, who let Morisaki in goal?]

Episode 11

You know, the more I think about this episode, the more I think it was nothing but an exceptionally cruel framing device for introducing Morisaki, Nankatsu’s substitute goalie; he makes his debut this match due to Wakabayashi’s bum leg. Really, I’m struggling to think of another reason for them to show this episode. It’s not a very important match and they go out of their way to mention that the opposing team is not particularly strong, so the only thing that’s being done here is showcasing how bad Morisaki is at his favourite sport in the entire world.

I feel so bad for this guy – as if playing second fiddle to a superhuman like Wakabayashi weren’t discouraging enough on its own, pretty much his only character trait is that he sucks (later on in the series he becomes ostensibly the third best goalie in the country, but he’s still nothing more than a plot device to introduce suspense, since he’s the only main keeper who ever lets anything in). And everyone’s super nice about him playing, but deep down you know they’re all silently freaking out about having this absolute jobber keeping. For fuck’s sake, Wakabayashi could do better than this with no legs at all. How must it feel to know that the rare occasions that you’re sent onto the field are greeted by your teammates with a “well, better make the best of it!” attitude? If poor Morisaki comes out of his tenure on this team anything other than a shell of a man it’ll be a miracle. Everyone else is playing awfully, too (other than Tsubasa, of course, who is a perfect angel and can do no wrong), I guess the inferiority complexes are getting to them. Wakabayashi and Tsubasa are probably indirectly responsible for a lot of therapy, come to think of it.

Obviously Tsubasa decides to start existing in the final minutes of the episode to score his obligatory hat trick (his sixth in a row, holy shit), as we all expected (and are we really supposed to believe he couldn’t have scored a goal before then? Maybe he just wanted to throw Shimada a bone), so Nankatsu wins anyway, but it feels rushed and, frankly, a little unearned. Shimada were by far the better team as a whole. But hell, individual freaks of nature winning out over cohesive teams with good fundamentals is what Captain Tsubasa is all about.

Aside from the main plot I liked the brief glimpse we got of Meiwa FC, who were also struggling their way through their own prefecture tournament until Hyuga agrees to play for the first time this tournament (along with his Misaki equivalent, Sawada), since his team now understands the total necessity of “his football”, or, more specifically, knocking every player you see right into the fucking ground.

Shimada is a pretty cute team as well, they and their coach are so pure and good. Shame we’ll never see them again. Any team in Shizuoka other than Nankatsu is, after all, doomed to obscurity until Tsubasa graduates and inevitably leaves a gaping power vacuum in his wake. Overall, though, it’s another fairly lacklustre episode. Especially animation-wise, but fuck it, that’s totally understandable. A worm like Morisaki doesn’t deserve decent animation. It’s better he learns that now. Glamour shots are for winners. The story wasn’t particularly compelling, either, and I’m not sure how necessary this episode really was – there’s certainly not a ton to say about it. You could probably skip it and not miss anything important. Hopefully the next ep brings a little more excitement.

Episode 12

Oh shit, a challenger appears for Tsubasa’s love, it’s Generic Childhood Friend Yayoi (Tsubasa’s only friend from Tokyo other than the ever-loyal ball – she actually briefly appeared in the very first episode of the original, but they cut it in this version)! Bringing us to a grand total of three female characters so far. Yaaaay. And oh yeah, it’s the prefectural finals or something, I guess. Shimizu are competent assholes with a budget Wakabayashi captaining.

But before we go into that can we just take a moment to appreciate that Anego is finally getting some dialogue that isn’t “Woo, go Nankatsu/Tsubasa” for once in this damn show? Praise the lord. I’m not really sure why but I find her totally unwarranted hostility towards absolutely everyone in this show who isn’t Tsubasa adorable. It’s funny, I usually hate bratty kid characters, but she gets a pass in my book for some reason. She wears her heart on her sleeve, this girl, and it just so happens that her heart is mad as hell most of the time. She needn’t worry, though, because Yayoi is all about Misugi Jun now, “the Noble of the Field” (oh god I love all the stupid player nicknames in this series, and now that we’re hitting the nationals we’re about to get a deluge of them). I totally forgot he was introduced in this episode. He’s actually a very fun character for reasons that are huge spoilers. Suffice it to say I can’t wait to see him in action again.

The match itself was fun enough to watch if not particularly remarkable for the first while (everyone’s playing much better than the last match, thankfully), until Shimizu fucking dogpile Wakabayashi to trigger his leg injury. What kind of coach endorses that as a strategy? Mother of god, who do they think they are, Meiwa FC? I know youth football is serious business, but come on, that’s asking to be sued. And the announcer and referee both clearly acknowledged it was a tactical foul, but why was there no penalty? Why am I trying to make sense of the rules of football in this universe? I also love how Wakabayashi’s out here with his leg practically falling off and still nobody wants to bring on Morisaki. And the sad thing is, that’s absolutely the right call. Just leave him on the bench with Ishizaki (who hasn’t played all tournament, I think? My heart bleeds for him). He must know his place.

I actually got really into this match towards the end. Tsubasa’s goals this episode might be the most satisfying of the series so far, for me at least. I’m not even mad about him getting his seventh hat trick in a row, that showboating little scamp. Fuck Shimizu, they deserve to have humiliation rain down upon them. Only Hyuga gets to pull the kind of shit they tried. The animation was definitely a cut above episode 11, too (unsurprising, it is a final I guess, even if we all knew the result going in). A decent note to end the prefectural tournament arc (if you can call it that) on, I think. And most importantly, now we can move on to the nationals arc. I am so excited for all the high-tier antics that are about to go down.

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