Captain Tsubasa (2018) Episode 25 & 26

Episode 25

I feel like this is another episode that there isn’t a ton to say about, but just because it’s more action than plot advancement. Having said that, I found the action pretty tense and exciting – it felt like we were going from clash to clash with almost nothing in between. A wall-to-wall clash cavalcade.

The brief flashback to Misaki’s time with Meiwa FC was interesting, too – I always love me some flashback exposition, though. Hyuga’s contempt for Misaki’s style of play is both excessive and baffling, as expected of our resident contrary weirdo. He just hates… good fundamentals, apparently? “Look at that disgusting soft football, with his competent plays and nimble footwork. This isn’t real football. He’s not even trying to break anyone’s legs!”. Kozo Kira should probably not be in charge of Hyuga, to be honest, he’s really warped him. Are the coaches in this universe background checked? My guess is no. Kozo Kira definitely has a warrant out on him in like, Hokkaido or somewhere. I don’t know whether the manga goes any deeper into his backstory but colour me intrigued.

Speaking of broken limbs, Wakabayashi is now working with one leg and one arm after Hyuga’s goal, so Nankatsu are really being whittled down to nubs. How is it that this goal is supposed to be Hyuga “throwing away his pride” by resorting to finesse and technique over brute force and yet he still manages to sprain Wakabayashi’s fucking wrist? Also there was a point just after the wrist injury where Morisaki who came over to replace Wakabayashi’s gloves Hyuga’s goal destroyed (finesse, right?) and for a split second I was like “whoa I don’t remember Morisaki switching in here but maybe it’ll happen” and then Wakabayashi goes “Hey, good job keeping that bench warm, sport! Hang in there for me, will ya champ?” and I died. What a patronising dick. We all know he could do a better job than Morisaki dead, but does he have to rub it in like that? And the kid takes it because deep down he knows it’s what he deserves. Poor Morisaki. You endure so much. Your hands are weak but your spirit is strong.

The latter half of the episode, right after the goal, is very tense, with the mad dash for Nankatsu to equalise in the last minutes. You know shit’s going down when Wakabayashi runs out of goal. What a steal, too, that was genuinely exciting. I’m disappointed though, I thought he might actually get to score on his own. But of course, Tsubasa gets the credit once again. Everything good that happens on the field has to be a result of his actions, whether directly or indirectly. Those are the rules. Still, the three-pronged attack was pretty fun too.

Hyuga’s lame post-goal victory pose is my favourite shot of the episode, it’s extremely awkward. Imagine being at some u13s football match and there’s a child striking that pose for about 30 seconds after he scores a goal. I suppose it’s better than all the flossing that probably goes down in real life u13s football matches.

Or wait no, maybe these are my favourite shots of the episode, Roberto’s reaction to Tsubasa mentioning Brazil. Gosh, maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I think he might not be sure about bringing Tsubasa to Brazil after all.

“I feel you”. Oh my god. By the way, does anyone else find the start of that scene kind of… weird? Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with a coach massaging a player’s leg, but do they have to start a scene with a close-up of it? Is it just me that finds this jarring?

Anyway, the game’s been pushed into extra time now, which is not ideal for Nankatsu considering the shape of their best players, especially Misaki, but presumably they’ll pull off some bullshit somehow anyway. Next up is the “Phantom Goal”. Sounds spooky.

Episode 26

Oh wait false alarm, it’s not very spooky, never mind. It’s just a goal that slid in just as the first half whistle blew (it wasn’t counted, hence the “phantom”). That’s a pretty clickbaity title if you ask me. It is a fun plot element though. I actually really like when they bring technicalities like that in as a twist, it mixes things up a little bit. Also, it allows Tsubasa to be disadvantaged while simultaneously reassuring you that he is still in fact Very Good At Football, which is, of course, the golden rule of the franchise.

Tsubasa has a mental monologue about going to Brazil in the first extra time and throughout the whole thing all I kept thinking was “Yeah, I feel you”. And why do they keep acting like Tsubasa and Hyuga’s ambitions are equal in worthiness? Hyuga is trying to provide a future for his fucking family, of course he has more on the line than Tsubasa.

Another thing from the first half: I know I should stop being surprised by this by now but how did the referee say nothing about half of Meiwa slide tackling into Misaki while he was kneeling on the ground in pain? They clearly weren’t all aiming for the ball. That could cause permanent damage for all anyone knows. This league would be lawsuit city in real life. Hyuga alone would probably put the place in millions worth of debt. He was a goddamn powerhouse in the final half of this episode though, it was really cool to watch. I really don’t see how we’re supposed to feel like him feinting is a compromise? He’s still just as boisterous as before, and his shots have every bit as much power behind them if not more. He just completely battered Tsubasa in a shouldering competition and launched Wakabayashi into a goalpost, I don’t think he’s sold out just yet. Watching him get beaten at his own game by Nankatsu’s defence in the second extra time is very satisfying, though.

Wow, though: we are now in our second bout of extra time. This is gruelling. How long must this have taken in the original anime? I just had a look and I think the whole match took about 15 episodes. Jesus. And at least half of those will have been taken up with shots of people hobbling around in serious pain while looking determined. How did I get through that without going insane? I’ve sort of mentally blocked out the memories.

Anyway, David have done a pretty decent job, because at no point have I felt despair while watching their adaptation of the match. The whole thing sort of had me on the edge of my seat without even realising it. And at the end, they did that thing again where they slap a big picture of Wakabayashi’s face on the screen like he’s dead instead of just out of shot. Perhaps one day I will understand the artistic significance of it, but for now, it remains a beautiful enigma. A poignant note on which to end the episode. Looks like the tournament is wrapping up next time.

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