Captain Tsubasa (2018) Episode 17 & 18
You know, this is one match that I think I much prefer the ‘80s version of. This one just went too darn quick. There were so many great moments that were glossed over. It’s barely 2 minutes between Ishizaki’s own goal and his redemption, and I’m sorry but that moment deserves at least 10. Failure on this magnitude can’t just be brought up and then wiped away, you’ve got to dwell on it. Get some good close-ups of Ishizaki’s tears of humiliation, that sort of thing. That’s what we brought him on the field for, that’s what the people came to see. Also, they had a bit in the original anime where every member of Nankatsu separately went up to Ishizaki to lie about having scored own goals themselves before so he’d feel less like shit and it’s a very cute moment that I wish they could have kept.
And then Misaki just casually drops in that he’s leaving after the tournament and everyone’s like “Well jeez, guess we really better win then”, and then they do and everyone rejoices. It feels like the episode is just trying to get Plot out of the way as quickly as possible so as not to throw off the pace of the show. Again, I’m glad they don’t have to drag 30-minute matches out to 20 episodes, but at times it feels like you’re being rushed along at top speed. They’ve chosen weird things to keep in, as well. We really don’t need to be checking in with Wakabayashi so often when time is at such a premium and there’s nothing happening on his end. Every time we switch to him it’s either “Boy this leg of mine, I sure do hope it’s in shape for the finals” or “Gee whiz Nankatsu better not choke horribly without me” or both. I’m not saying they should cut him out but they completely could have used some of his screentime for Ishizaki bullying/acrobatics bullshit.
I think the Tachibana Twins in general were more fun in the ‘80s anime, too. I know they’re not very important characters, but in a way, they’re a culmination of everything great about Captain Tsubasa: blatant defying of the laws of both physics and football, stupid special moves, and gimmicks as far as the eye can see. And yet it feels like David are just going through the motions, trying to get their boxes ticked so they can move on to the important matches. I feel cheated. I want them twins to be backflipping around and jumping up on the goalposts like madmen every second they’re on the field or there’s absolutely no point in them being there, as far as I’m concerned.
One thing I did love, though, was Tsubasa’s Last-Second Goal (TM). Any time he rips off other characters’ special moves is top notch in my book. He can’t let anyone else have anything, the little psycho. It’s not enough for him to just win, he has to beat everyone at their own game. Tsubasa doesn’t care if you’ve spent your entire life learning a skill, he’s going to master in the space of 30 minutes. It’s the fucking inter-school sports tournament track and field event all over again. He has a compulsive need to make his opponents know he’s better than them in every conceivable way, as if that wasn’t already depressingly obvious. I also forgot that Tsubasa scored the final goal and sort of convinced myself they were going to have Misaki do it in a fit of Friendship Passion because it looks like they’re setting up for it, but then Tsubasa takes it anyway because why let anyone else have the deciding goal, right?
Hyuga and (Misaki’s former teammate) Matsuyama’s scuffle at the end was high tier as well, though I regret that it did not devolve into a full-blown fistfight. So many missed opportunities. I shouldn’t complain, though. I think this series has the highest proportion of unprovoked face slaps I’ve ever seen in a non-shoujo anime, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful for this rare gift. I do hope the pacing issues even out a little soon, though (I know they do eventually).
Well, no evening out this time around, because the main Nankatsu match here is even more rushed than the last one. We don’t even get a proper introduction to Naniwa, even though their brick shithouse goalie Nakanishi has been reasonably hyped up to this point. It’s sort of a weird choice, actually, because they’re trying to act like he’s a major threat to Nankatsu’s chances but also they haven’t even bothered showing the whole match. It’s a bit lazy. I’d almost rather they skip it entirely like they do with the match after it. It’s not like anyone cares about these guys anyway. The whole episode seems more like an excuse to remind you that Wakabayashi is a really, really good goalkeeper. Like, really good. Better than regular goalkeepers. I know you might have forgotten that, they don’t like to bring it up too often. Sometimes the way Nankatsu talks about Wakabayashi when he’s out of action it’s almost as if he’s died.
If I showed you this picture out of context and asked you about the guy up top, you would absolutely say he was dead. Why are they all looking up to heaven? Can they all see the picture? As well, Tsubasa seems to be mortally offended that Nakanishi thinks he might be almost as good at goalkeeping as Wakabayashi. Like he deserves to have his spirit completely crushed for such blasphemy. I can’t help but feel bad for the guy. He’s not a particularly interesting character and he seems a little arrogant, but he doesn’t deserve such a merciless battering, does he? They could have let him go down with just a little dignity.
Fuck the match, though, because the real news is Misugi Jun’s plot kicking into gear, the Noble of the Field himself. God bless Misugi and god bless his heart, which apparently could explode at any moment. God bless Tsubasa especially, who takes about a millisecond to be upset by this news before launching into a tirade about how he’s going to Brazil to be the best football player ever. And if he has to indirectly kill a fellow child to make that happen, so be it. It’s his dream, you see, and Tsubasa is better than regular people, so his dreams are allowed to have body counts. That’s how it works. I love how Misugi is in total agreement on this, too. As far as he’s concerned, this could be his last match and he’s completely fine with that. I ask you, if youth football isn’t worth dying for, what is? A noble death for the Noble of the Field, and no finer executioner than Tsubasa. I am so excited for their match oh god it’s so dumb.
You know what else I’m excited for? Meiwa’s new player, Wakashimazu. Fuck yes, what a guy. And we get a proper look at Matsuyama next episode, too! It feels like we’ve got all the character and plot setup out of the way at last. Now we can finally move on to some real sportsball. But more importantly, cardiac drama. Just give me the cardiac drama.