Giant Killing 21 – Goal Scoring Euphoria

The second time this man has been the featured image, this time much younger.

Sometimes it takes time to find a proper position for some younger players. Former Mexico goalkeeper Jorge Campos wanted to play in the first team at Pumas early in his career, and that meant he had to play as a striker though his haul of 35 goals at the position meant he definitely had some talent up front. Alan Shearer, the top goalscorer in the Premier League era, was supposedly rejected by Newcastle as a goalkeeper early in his career before signing at Southampton. Less memorable was Paul Warhurst, a defender who scored 12 times in 12 matches as an emergency striker earning him a call-up to the England squad as a striker.

The 21st episode of Giant Killing sees ETU bury themselves further in the hole as Kubota scores Osaka’s 2nd goal. The episode functions largely as character development for the forward, which forms one part of this post. In addition, there are also some promising signs for ETU and also what happens when defenders try to do too much.

A fine finish by the man with no personality.

Kubota: A Winner by Circumstance

A large portion of this episode was devoted to backstory for the Osaka forward. We learn that he used to be a defensive midfielder and was good enough to be a youth international at that role, but he never did much in that role. Dulfer, though, noticed his outstanding instinct and intuition which combined with the vision he learned as a defensive midfielder actually made him an outstanding forward.

One has to wonder what would have happened to him had Dulfer not been manager. In all likelihood, he would have been a reserve or occasional first-teamer who would have been content with making tackles like the one he made on Tsubaki. Since he is capable of that on top of creating and taking chances, those tackles build his confidence because he’s not expected to make those as a striker.

The real concern about Kubota is that it illustrates one of the problems with the structure of the narrative. Typically, it has been the case for ETU that Tatsumi slowly discloses his strategy throughout the match making him seem like a genius. In this case, as we learn more about Kubota, he become a sort of superman figure on the pitch for Osaka. Though there is still a half to play, he’s essentially become the Leo Messi figure that ETU have to deal with.

Natsuki has a unique way of expressing disappointment for lack of support

Things Looking Up for ETU?

After Hauer’s opener, ETU tried to get out of the defensive bunker they were forced into. Gino’s errant passing prevented Tsubaki from creating another chance, while Natsuki found himself surrounded by defenders when he had the ball in an advanced position. After Kubota scored the second, Tsubaki was able to get forward, with Sera able to at least attempt a shot.

While not necessarily creating chances at the moment, ETU do at least seem able to get forward when they have possession. Gino’s poor performance in the first half is not helpful as he is key man in all of their attacks. As it stands, ETU aren’t going to be able to play on the counter as Osaka will not let them have the ball that way. At 2-0 down, they may as well try to push men forward anyway.

Akasaki actually talks some sense, though the 2 fullback see it differently.

Making a Difficult Situation Harder

In the aftermath of Hauer’s goal, Akasaki tells Ishihama and Kiyokawa that they should focus on just stopping their markers and allowing Tsubaki and himself to come back and help. Kiyokawa had been beaten trying to prevent his marker beating him for pace, Kuroda was distracted as a result and that led to the opening goal. For Osaka’s second, despite being told to man-mark Kubota, Sugie could not overcome his defender’s instinct to monitor his surrounding, which allowed Kubota to run past him and score.

Tatsumi’s tactics were undoubtedly simple for his back four. Each was given a man to mark much like a game of basketball, but the costly errors have come from doing too much. As I was personally screaming for Sugie to put a reducer on Kubota, I was thinking that Kiyokawa could have at least fouled his man rather than let him through. Instead, as Kuroda and Sugie have tons of experience playing in bad teams, they are worried about the mistakes of others leading them into mistakes of their own. It provides a further illustration of the cultural challenges Tatsumi faces at the club.

While Kubota knows the euphoria of scoring goals, I wish he celebrated with the flair Sera would if he ever scored again.

Thoughts: So it ends up 2-0 going into halftime. I’m sure the next episode is going to be the inevitable mauling by Tatsumi as he reminds them about what they were working on in training. If the next episode actually gets into match action, I can see ETU nabbing a quick goal or something happening to Kubota that shatters his confidence. Maybe Gino will find the passing touch he had sitting in the dressing room as well.

10 thoughts on “Giant Killing 21 – Goal Scoring Euphoria”

  1. Yeah, I thought Akasaki was actually being reasonable this time around, both in his message and in his tone. He was being a dick in the locker room, but not on the field.

    I hope Gino finds his touch soon. Have no idea why, but he is my favorite player. Maybe I just enjoy those flirty Daisuke Ono characters. God, what has anime DONE to me??

    1. I think flair players have that effect. It’s much easier to form a personality cult around someone who is entertaining and gripping versus another guy who gets the job done pragmatically. Not anything to do with anime in particular.

  2. Gino obviously forgot his passing in his other shorts.

    Honestly though, it was kind of nice to see even Gino gets a little rattled at times. He always plays the cool and superior one, but he can still have a bad day as well. I half expected Tsubaki to pick up the slack for him in this episode, but he still couldn’t quite do it.

    1. Gino’s foot injury seems relevant to his performance, but as he was able to participate in training immediately it has minimal impact. With few chances to do anything, he probably hasn’t been able to find the pace of the game, though.

  3. The real concern about Kubota is that it illustrates one of the problems with the structure of the narrative. Typically, it has been the case for ETU that Tatsumi slowly discloses his strategy throughout the match making him seem like a genius. In this case, as we learn more about Kubota, he become a sort of superman figure on the pitch for Osaka. Though there is still a half to play, he’s essentially become the Leo Messi figure that ETU have to deal with.

    Yes.

    As I was personally screaming for Sugie to put a reducer on Kubota, I was thinking that Kiyokawa could have at least fouled his man rather than let him through. Instead, as Kuroda and Sugie have tons of experience playing in bad teams, they are worried about the mistakes of others leading them into mistakes of their own. It provides a further illustration of the cultural challenges Tatsumi faces at the club.

    Excellent insight, and illustrates how awesomely deep into the game this show is. Uuuunnnnghhhh I wish there was a basketball anime at this level! Slam Dunk is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s old and is stuck at the high school level. But the Japanese pro ball league isn’t very good, so sigh.

    1. The Japanese football league isn’t really that fantastic either, though it has the money to pull in decent Brazilian players provided they settle in Japan. I think the convention of sports fiction is to have a team improve dramatically throughout the story. Giant Killing is different in that it does show improvement in a realistic sense. A team that struggled against relegation could become slightly better with the same players, but they aren’t going to storm the league the next year.

  4. Jorge Campos actually enjoyed playing up front just as much as he did goalkeeper. A couple of times Pumas UNAM actually substituted a field player with a keeper so Campos could play in attack. It was absolutely priceless to see a field player with a no.1 on his back. Unfortunately, FIFA did not allow Mexico to do this same operation at the 94′ world cup.

    1. I remember a few times when he was playing in MLS where he would just bomb forward out his own penalty area and try to get forward in attack. I think he even managed to score once or twice in his time there. I think the squad numbering rule for goalkeepers came into effect for the ’94 World Cup, since before then a few sides had outfield players wearing number 1 because they were assigned alphabetically.

  5. I have a sneaking suspicion that Gino is testing how far he can get Tsubaki to run on to his passes by getting Tsubaki to run faster and further. Take note of the gap between pass, Tsubaki and the Osaka defender. It’s getting closer. The fightback at the end of the first half was encouraging.

    1. That’s an interesting theory which I suspect may actually be true. The question that arises is what can Tsubaki do once he actually wins the ball and gets past the Osaka defender. I suspect once Tatsumi gets it into his head that they are supposed to have fun, he will manage to pull off one of his amazing feats.

Comments are closed.