Giant Killing 3 – Team Building Exercises

Charles N'Zogbia is mobbed by teammates after scoring Wigan's winner against Arsenal
Wigan Athletic pulled off a giant killing coming from 2-0 down against Arsenal to win 3-2.

The third episode of Giant Killing focuses on team building within the East Tokyo United side in trying to change from a struggling team to one that can play with the best teams. Take Wigan Athletic this season as an example. In November they lost 9-1 to Tottenham Hotspur while conceding a Premier League record 8 goals in the 2nd half (notable enough to earn a wikipedia page for the match as well). Yet they remained mentally strong enough to record wins against Liverpool and Arsenal in recent months to push themselves away from the relegation zone. Tatsumi’s attempts to build a team after the break.

Gino casually expresses his thanks, in his own special way, to this valet for getting his car.

The episode begins with the arrival at an airport of an ETU player, while everyone else is involved in the training camp. To observers it appears that the players aren’t doing much of anything, which Tatsumi tells his coaches is to make a point to the players that it is much to easy to take orders. With Murakoshi forbidden from issuing orders, the players look for someone else to lead them. The veteran goalkeeper Dori, though the oldest player, refuses and goes off with the team’s other keepers to do their own training.

Kuroda takes charge himself and issues orders to do some passing drills. He interferes with one set of players before Sugie points out a group of players doing more practical exercises. Kuroda goes over to tell them what the do, and Tatsumi watching from afar believes the real show is about to get underway. Akasaki and Kuroda start arguing about the training and really about the way the team functions. Eventually, Sugie has to hold back Kuroda to prevent a fight breaking out.

Losing control of the players before even going through a match is quite an accomplishment.

Clearly pleased by the situation, Tatsumi moves to alter the mood further by taking away all of their footballs, except one. Akasaki sees that as a good opportunity to beat the older players again, before Kuroda again argues for staying with established methods. Other players begin speaking up on ways they should be practicing and Tatsumi finally realizes what he is dealing with in team dynamics. With Akasaki and Kuroda actually fighting at this point, he is too late to intervene until Luigi “Gino” Yoshida arrives. The player known also known as the Prince introduces himself to Tatsumi and says he will participate in training the next day.

That night, Tatsumi talks to his coaches, who are worried about the shape of the team with the start of the season approaching. Tatsumi says he is pretty settled on a starting eleven, but without a strong foundation they would not stand a chance.

At training the next day, Kuroda resumes his hostilities with Akasaki with a crunching challenge which kicks off another fight. Tsubaki, praised by the coaches of ETU’s feeder clubs, is next to end up on the wrong end of a Kuroda shoulder charge. While at the same time, Gino works on building up his conditioning away from the other players. Tatsumi stops him to have a conversation in which he calls him by his last name, and he says he will continue to call him Yoshida and take away his coveted 10 shirt if he doesn’t showcase his skills. Gino gets the point, and decides to participate in a training exercise pitting himself, Akasaki and Tsubaki against Murakoshi, Kuroda and Sugie with Dori in goal.

Excuse me while I score a long-range screamer.

Gino tells the Tsubaki and Akasaki their roles to essentially function as dogs to him, while Tatsumi sees his choice of players as a way of having an excuse if they lose. The exercise begins with Tsubaki seemingly running around aimlessly, which was what he was instructed to do, and Akasaki fulfilling his role as an outlet if Gino found himself in trouble. Gino then begins pinging balls around effortlessly to Tsubaki who passes them back to Gino. Murakoshi then begins to question the exercise’s emphasis on speed and stamina, saying they aren’t essential to playing football. Gino notices Murakoshi lacks his usual sharpness, and takes the opportunity to arrow a shot into the top corner. As Gino laughs at his skills, Tsubaki and Akasaki are exhausted while Murakoshi’s supporters begin to wonder if there is something wrong with him.

Meanwhile at the Tokyo Verdy Victory club house, the manager and his assistant talk about whether ETU will be able to fulfill their friendly fixture, or if Tatsumi is setting them up to be complacent when they meet.

Outnumbered by opposing fans wearing green while playing at home, just like all those USA-Mexico friendlies played in the Southwest.

The day of the friendly arrives and ETU’s Sumidagawa Stadium is filled with Victory supporters. Being two-time defending league champions and playing nearby, it is obvious why they have a larger support than ETU. This doesn’t put off the casual fans though, who are there to see Tatsumi’s first match in charge of their team.

In the changing rooms, Kuroda begins arguing at Tatsumi over the tactics while other players have different reactions. Dori sees them as simplistic, Akasaki is happy just to be playing and Tsubaki is incredibly nervous. Kuroda continues to be angry at Tatsumi’s planning in general, but Tatsumi says that what he has been looking for is a response greater than what he has planned since he arrived. He says they have a 50-50 chance of winning, but they should at least be able to secure a draw with the tactics he devised. Performing greater would obviously see them win.

The players walk out of the tunnel, with Gino wearing the captain’s armband, though he feels like he stole it.Victory’s manager Hiraizumi greets Tatsumi and praises him for the work he did in England. However, he says his team will go all-out in this friendly, though Tatsumi wonders why.

Thoughts: Obviously this whole team building thing will span across the whole series, I wouldn’t really expect them to get anything out of this friendly but a beating. Tsubaki doesn’t really seem to have the personality to succeed either, but I think that will be addressed in the next episode.

10 thoughts on “Giant Killing 3 – Team Building Exercises”

  1. The interesting thing about this show is how it keeps the actual football material grounded and plausible, allowing it to present ridiculous, over-the-top histrionics in its story.

    While professional (and even semi-pro) sports clubs has a wealth of dysfunction and drama, the kind of story presented here is the good stuff of shonen absurdity. I mean, the manager having ZERO idea about the team’s striker? C’mon!

    But I can let it slide because the show is all about indulging such turns. The situations and problems will only get more complicated and sillier, but that’s okay because I think the football itself will be believable (save for god-like international level skills in a minnow team, but this is part of a shonen tradition even if it isn’t a shonen show) and entertaining because of it.

    1. I’m sure Tatsumi would have had some idea about the team’s star player from watching the DVDs in the first episode, but he had no face-to-face interaction with him until then. It’s probably just an act to force him into showing what he can do.

      The thing to remember is that this is the story of a top-level team, albeit not a very good one, but it makes the occasional flash of brilliance within the realm of reason. Now if Tatsumi’s English club had been shown doing amazing things, then it would not have worked.

  2. I’m looking forward to how these characters develop. All of them have a major personality flaw of some sort, like Akasaki’s over-assertive confrontationalism or Tsubaki’s lack of self-confidence. It’s not just the skills they need to improve, but the strength of their character as well. It’s all fascinating to watch, even for someone who knows very little about football.

    1. It basically becomes the story of a flawed manager, putting together a team of flawed players and getting them to function to a level necessary to beat less flawed teams. It’s a pretty standard framework for sports-related fiction, but the level of execution on this is at a much higher level without having to resort to cliche. At least, there’s been no training montages…yet.

      1. ~It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight…~

        Actually, I’d be okay with it. Only with that song, and only once.

  3. Ah, the wonderful world of sports…and it’s soccer, to boot. (Would’ve been better had it been football, though…) I’m kind of impressed by the balanced focus on sports and the non-sports areas. Like Rakuen, I’ll definitely be looking for how these characters develop though–not just as individuals, but as a team and their interactions with one another.

  4. A lot of the team’s success obviously depends on the personalities of the players. Gino has a humongous ego — will he be able to use his force of personality to really lead the team, or will he just be an asshole? Will Tsubaki be able to live up to being granted Tatsumi’s No. 7, or will he crumble under the expectations?

    1. Successful teams have been built around assholes who hate each other. As far as Tatsumi’s 7 shirt, I could only assume at least a couple of players would have worn it before Tsubaki (probably token Brazilians who have no awareness of the number’s history), and even Tsubaki himself didn’t know who Tatsumi was, so I think it is just the pressure of being in the first team.

  5. The problem with the preview is that it instantly revealed the (predictable) defeat of the team. Having Tsubaki almost in tears kind of stripped some of the tension that I had for the next episode.

    1. From a competitive standpoint, it’s a completely insignificant match. The result doesn’t affect where they are in that table because the season hasn’t actually started yet. That said, when Tatsumi said he could guarantee a draw, he surely should know that no one can guarantee that.

Comments are closed.