Captain Tsubasa (2018) Episode 19 & 20

Episode 19

I need to bring up something that has been bothering me for a long time now: Matsuyama, Misugi and Misaki all look the same, to a point where it gets genuinely confusing. Look me in the eye and tell me it’s not true. They have the exact same face and almost the same hair. The series in general has huge problems with sameface and it’s actually less of an issue in the 2018 version than it has been in previous versions, but these three characters’ designs will haunt me to my grave. Look at this.

Matsuyama

Misaki

Misugi

Why would Takahashi give three such important characters such similar designs? I know art isn’t his strong point but this is egregious. He’s kind of inspirational though. He can’t really draw (or at least couldn’t when he started), doesn’t properly know the rules of the sport he’s portraying, isn’t bothered with character designs, and yet he has still managed to create one of the most successful media franchises of all time. Follow your dreams, friends. If Takahashi can make it you can make it. Also is Meiwa’s (now-substitute) goalie not just Morisaki in a Meiwa shirt?

There’s so much going on in this match though, it’s wild. Hyuga’s got exhaustion-induced flu or something, Matsuyama’s running around half-crippled, and Wakashimazu, i.e., Wakabayashi 2.0 has made a triumphant mid-match return to Meiwa FC after a traffic accident. They don’t say it in this version but he actually got hit diving into traffic to save a puppy which is ridiculous and perfect. I’m very glad to have Wakashimazu back.

I don’t feel like Furano showed anything particularly interesting this episode but Meiwa were on fire for sure. Hyuga’s play was insane as usual and great fun to watch, especially when he starts getting sick. This series loves having major characters play important matches while horribly sick/injured to force some tension in. And, transparent as it is, it actually sort of works. It certainly did in this match, anyway. I love the way Matsuyama (I keep almost typing Misugi/Misaki) just topples over towards the end, and the dramatic colourful shots whenever his leg starts hurting are my favourite thing.

I really liked the flashback to how Hyuga and Sawada first met. I like Sawada a lot as a character (I don’t even know why, I just think he’s nice I guess), and I feel like he does a lot to humanise Hyuga, seeing as he’s more or less the only person his age to whom he’s even slightly civil.

It seems like the fouling is getting punished a lot more in 2018 than it was before (well, I think it’s more like they’re cutting out unchecked fouls rather than putting in penalties, but the effect is the same), which objectively is a good change but I sort of miss seeing Hyuga half-killing people and the ref just looking on like “Damn, that’s some rough play. But what can I, a mere referee, do about it?”.

Also: I kind of mentioned them last time with Wakabayashi, but these constant superimposed shots of people’s faces are such a weird artistic choice by David. They’re so random and pointless. What exactly is this supposed to signify here?

Is it that he’s thinking? What’s the process for deciding when one of these gets put up on the screen? Do we need this?

For me, this was probably the most fun episode in a while, both visually and dialogue-wise. I wish the match could have been a little longer, though; I easily could have stood another episode of Hyuga collapsing all over the field with Matsuyama hobbling after him. But that’s probably just me. Anyway next is Musashi vs Nankatsu which should be even crazier, so let’s move on.


Episode 20

As you have probably guessed by now, I really love this match. It’s got everything. Power-limiting injuries, high-octane football antics, relationship trouble, Ishizaki getting hit in the face, Yayoi getting hit in the face, even a bit of mortal peril on Misugi’s side of things. I’ve seen it so many times but I still audibly gasp at the moment where Tsubasa elbows Misugi in the chest, holy shit. I love the colours at that moment. David really nails the injury shots, and you can tell they really like doing them. Misugi might be my favourite character to watch play after Hyuga, as well. He’s just as talented as Tsubasa, but he’s got that added time bomb element, and also his “oh fuck oh no my heart” animations are just a lot of fun to watch. Truly, he is the Young Noble of the Field (I’m never going to get over what a stupid nickname that is oh my god).

I was having a good enough time with the play in this episode, and then the offside rule burst onto the scene and things got even better. Here it is: episode 20 of a football anime, and we are for the first time encountering the offside rule. Not only that, but it looks like Tsubasa has never encountered the offside rule in his life. Excuse me, but what the fuck? Haven’t some of Nankatsu’s players already won the nationals? Surely their practices would take the offside rule into account. And what, Roberto never thought to mention that little tidbit to Tsubasa? “Should I teach him the rules of the game he wants to make a career out of? No, let us study backflip goals instead”. God bless, Roberto. Never change.

I am all about Misugi’s parents’ fraught relationship in this episode, it is amazing. Mrs (or are they divorced?) Misugi is like “Gosh maybe our son shouldn’t play this match, he’ll probably die” and the dad is just like “No. Our son must do this because manliness. You wouldn’t understand, you woman”. I don’t know about you, but to me, it seems like there is a reasonable person and an unreasonable person in that exchange, and I think we all know who is who. And yet for some reason, the mother’s very understandable anxiety is being painted as overbearing. It’s youth football, is it really worth dropping dead over? The values in this show are so alien to me, it’s kind of fascinating.

Misugi himself and Yayoi’s storyline has parallels to this, with Yayoi getting a slap for her dishonourable womanly ways. The slap frequency in this anime has increased dramatically in the last while. Let’s hope the momentum keeps up. And like, sure, I can see why he would be mad, it’s private information that has potentially ruined what he believes will be his final match, but Jesus, the poor girl was only trying to save his life. He’s being a little harsh here, but this kind of drama is why I love Misugi. Another point in his favour is that he manages something this match that Hyuga has yet to: he causes Tsubasa to lose hope (temporarily, of course). The second he considers that somebody might be better than him, he’s almost ready to throw in the towel. He is actually a broken boy. Tsubasa is physically unable to process the thought of someone having more talent than him. How dare he come at the players he’s crushed with a smile on his face when he can’t even handle someone outplaying him without having an existential crisis? I wish he could lose, but the plot armour is strong in him. Still, excited to see Misugi accept defeat honourably next episode if he doesn’t die first.

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