Captain Tsubasa (2018) Episode 13 & 14

Episode 13

There’s no match this time around, so instead, we get character melodrama, which is just fine with me. From the very start, we get Roberto agonising over his decision to take Tsubasa to Brazil again. Gosh, they’re really going out of their way to show how uncertain he is about effectively breaking up the Oozora family. I could be wrong, and maybe it’s just because the instances are more spaced out, but I don’t remember Roberto having these thoughts nearly so often in the original anime, but the execution is wonderful so I’m not complaining. Gratuitous shots of Roberto Staring Intently and Thinking Very Hard: beautiful.

Seriously, look at all of these.

Works of art, every last one.

The way he’s unsubtly bringing up his doubts to anyone who’ll listen, looking for any excuse not to take this goddamn kid to Brazil: flawless. Like, how on earth could he convince himself he’s “forcing his dream” on Tsubasa? What? Has he met this boy? He’d choose football over oxygen, he’s fucking fine with the dream.

Also: why exactly can’t Mrs Oozora move to Brazil with Tsubasa? I mean, it’s not like it matters for her husband, he’s at sea most of the time anyway, she doesn’t have any other children, she doesn’t appear to have a job… what’s keeping her in Japan, exactly? With her husband’s salary, she could probably live pretty well in Brazil. Why has nobody in this universe even considered this possibility?

The other big bombshell this episode is Wakabayashi’s injury-induced absence for the nationals (until the finals). Which, to be fair, sort of always had to be done. Could you imagine watching the early rounds with Wakabayashi in goal? There’d be no suspense whatsoever, you’d be as well off just skipping straight to the finals. It’s bad enough with just one superhuman on the team. The mangaka really painted himself into a corner creating a character as invincible as Wakabayashi, and I think he realised that basically immediately after introducing him, because he’s constantly looking for ways to nerf him or keep him away from the action.

Oh god though poor Wakabayashi keeps getting cursed with low-budget episodes for his emotionally intense moments, look at this unfortunate shot:

Does it remind anyone else of Zac Efron in Bet on It from High School Musical 2?

I would pay to see that remade with Wakabayashi. Tsubasa is Gabrielle (just in spirit, I don’t ship them) and Hyuga is Sharpay.

Aside from Wakabayashi, Misaki and Roberto’s shenanigans, there’s one big milestone here: Wakayabashi being mostly out of commission, Tsubasa finally becomes Captain Tsubasa for Nankatsu FC! Woooo. I feel like I should have some confetti to throw.

The first Nationals meeting was good fun – it was great to meet some of the new characters. It feels like a new world has been opened up, in a way. This is where it starts to get interesting. It’s pretty forced drama, but I do like that Nankatsu and Meiwa are facing off in the first round. It injects some tension early on and it’s also a good excuse to direct Hyuga’s attention to the boy who will become his greatest foe.

Oh and I totally forgot Ishizaki’s salty mom gets a scene this episode! She’s one of my favourite minor characters in the series, she’s an absolute savage. Every scene she has she’s either yelling at Ishizaki about how much he sucks or embarrassing him in public (or both).

If there is one flaw of this adaptation, it’s that the accelerated pacing deprives characters like her and Anego of screentime since plot-unimportant hometown episodes tend to get cut. But if that’s the price I’m to pay for matches that don’t last 20+ episodes, then so be it. This episode had a lot of fun side character moments, though. I love the Anego + Co hitch-hiking to the nationals with truckers plotline so much, it’s so silly.

Next time is all business, straight into the action: Meiwa vs Nankatsu (sans Wakabayashi!).

Episode 14

So, we all knew Morisaki was going to job. That was a given. We were counting on that. But, ladies, and gentlemen, HOW he jobbed. It is quite possible that nobody has jobbed this hard in the history of Japanese youth football. Also get a load of these blatant lies from Announcer-san.

The scene is this: Tsubasa opens the match’s score (god forbid he didn’t) after a particularly extra clash with Hyuga, thus sparking a rivalry for the ages. Hyuga spends the next few minutes smouldering with rage by the goal at close-up angles, as you may well expect of him, Byronic pre-teen sportsboi that he is. He springs to action only when Tsubasa gets near, charging in for one more clash. And then, and thenHyuga ploughs through Tsubasa and goes for a supercharged longshot on the goal, very intentionally beaning poor Morisaki right in the fucking face and also levelling the score.

And why does he do it? To scare Morisaki away from the ball. I have now watched this scene play out in four separate adaptations, and I will never not find it hilarious. The sheer audacity of it, the way everyone else acts like aiming directly for the keeper’s face is a totally valid (if diabolical) strategy and not just blatant fouling. Magnificent. One of the high points of the series, of media itself. Forgive me, Morisaki, for I cannot help but laugh at your pain. It is your fate as the butt-monkey to endure such trials.

I guess play stops for a little bit while Morisaki writhes in pain on the ground like the loser he will always be, because we switch over to the newly-introduced talent scouts for a while, whose main function aside from upping the stakes (they’re scouting for an elite football school and choosing between Tsubasa and Hyuga) appears to be dropping character analysis the audience doesn’t really need (“The ball is Tsubasa’s friend, but Hyuga plays hard. So different but both so skilled!”). We could do without this pair, is what I’m saying.

They do, however, drop some decent lore on my boy Kozo Kira, the perennially sake-swilling Meiwa FC coach and a far less boring character. Apparently he was a local football star in his youth, refusing to leave Japan to play despite the fact that the country didn’t have a pro league at the time. Fuck I love this guy, he’s so weird and awful and contrary. His main duty besides drinking (what is it with coaches and alcoholism in this series?) is encouraging Hyuga and the team to do things that would get you red-carded five minutes into a real match. I can’t wait for him to get more screentime. Besides Hyuga, the coaches are the best boys of this anime, don’t @ me.

We go back to play for the last few minutes, where a few cursory efforts are made to show off the skills of Nankatsu players who aren’t Tsubasa, before the ball is passed to the man himself, who obviously makes for the goal like the machine he is. Hyuga then calls upon his minions (or teammates, whichever) to remember their “special training”, which turns out to be launching themselves at Tsubasa like human torpedoes, VERY CLEARLY with the intent of injuring him, because the whole team is basically in Berserker Mode now. And to be fair one guy gets carded, but still. You’d think there’d be something in the rules against a team in a children’s league having major parts of their strategy revolve around tactical fouling?

Anyway, Nankatsu is awarded a free kick for this transgression, which is taken by some guy that isn’t Tsubasa, so obviously he absolutely fucks it and the shot is easily blocked by Hyuga. Normal play resumes and Hyuga passes to Sawada, who makes a terrible shot for the goal that Morisaki, still petrified from Hyuga’s attempt on his face, does not even attempt to save because he’s now terrified to go near the ball. Luckily Tsubasa kindly takes it upon himself to act as an interim goalkeeper, blocking a shot from Meiwa and cheerfully reminding Morisaki that the ball is his friend. He proves this by taking one of Hyuga’s patented faceshots like an absolute champ, and managing to keep himself from being rocketed into the goal, to boot.

And he’s fine. No sweat. Tsubasa probably does this for fun. This makes Morisaki realise he’s being a baby and that broken noses are just an inevitable part of youth football in this universe, so he needs to buck up and get used to it. He even manages to save a goal by the end of the episode, because he and the ball are tomodachis again. Cherish that save, Morisaki; it will be one of few throughout the series.

And that’s about where we leave off for the episode. This was a wild ride, that’s for damn sure. The animation more than made up for the less-than-stellar episodes we’ve had lately, too. The match continues next time. Who will win? Regardless of the result, one thing’s for darn sure: Tsubasa will be Sue-ing it up once more, and Hyuga will be mad. And in the end, isn’t that all anyone can ask for?

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