Giant Killing 18: mid-season announcement

August 1, 2010

I don’t regularly blog Giant Killing, but I wanted to make a special post about an upcoming match: East Tokyo United versus the Osaka Gunners. There are several reasons for believing it will be a BIG match, as revealed by episode 18.

  1. This game adds a new class of spectators.
  2. ETU deserves it.
  3. Tatsumi’s new strategy.

I will detail these ideas below, but by “BIG match”, I mean that it will be expansive, in that it will spread across multiple episodes, it will be important, in that it will have a big impact on the in-anime team that I believe will win it (ETU), and that it will be intense with extreme emotional swings, as the realities of play on the field unfold.

One interesting thing about Giant Killing is that the story of a sporting season is told from a number of viewpoints. In addition to the view on the pitch, by players engaged in the game itself, and by the coaches and benched athletes, we experience the game as seen by different classes of spectators. Fans in the stands, team managers and reporters in special booths, they bring their own insights to the commentary, and share in the emotional experience of the game.

The different classes of spectators help validate ETU as a football team, and Giant Killing is adding new spectator classes with this game. One spectator class is represented by the French man who is some sort of league commissioner the manager of the national team. Winning him over as a spectator can have a professional impact on the team, because (if I understood this correctly) he has the power to select players across the league for some sort of an All-Star team that represents Japan in international matches (THX to Kino for clarification!). He also shares an important trait with the coach of the opposing team (the Gunners): he is European.

Demonstrating respect from a European spectator class supports a larger theme (making a statement about Japan as an actor on a World stage, a theme developed especially during the last BIG match versus Nagoya Gran Palace), but the European spectator is also a means to validate the Taste or aesthetics of the game play. Note, for example, that Dulfer, Osaka’s Northern European coach, said he would sit down to enjoy ETU’s last game with a glass of wine. These European characters are, in part, a message to the anime viewer that ETU vs. Osaka Gunners will be a BIG match.

Of course Dulfer isn’t just a symbol of the European spectator, he is also a participant in the match itself, and from that perspective, we get further validation, because (as we saw in a flashback) Dulfer had a “shock of recognition” when he first met Tatsumi. The “shock of recognition” might appear to be related to aesthetics, because it could be confused with an eye for quality, but actually it is a reference to the ability to sense someone’s “warrior spirit” or aura. Dulfer’s ability to sense Tatsumi’s aura is often used to represent maturity; that is, the ability to brandish warrior spirit doesn’t imply the ability to sense it, but the reverse is true. Further Tatsumi knew just when to brandish his fighting spirit, so that means he sensed Dulfer’s spirit. This is another sign that this will be a BIG match, but I consider this support for the second reason.

ETU deserves to win: they are the underdogs. Osaka, the opposing team, has a true warrior, and “worthy opponent” to Tatsumi, as their coach, and they won their last match 8-0. (This episode even managed to introduce Kubo, one of Osaka’s players). But ETU can’t be giant killers without a giant. That means this match will be BIG.

Tatsumi has a strategy. I’ve mentioned in previous comment threads that Tatsumi is eventually going to have to shake up his strategy, else someone will come up with the perfect counter-strategy. Apparently Tatsumi has been coming up with the perfect time to deploy his new strategy: versus the Osaka Gunners. That means this match will be BIG.

One might argue that, in real life, none of this means anything. People happen to show up for games or they don’t; Taste and Fighting Spirit are merely romantic notions; teams don’t win games because they deserve it; and bold new strategies often fail when first implemented. But in a story we must respect the narrative, and the narrative of Giant Killing is telling us we much watch ETU versus the Osaka Gunners, so buy your ticket, before it’s too late.

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One Response to “Giant Killing 18: mid-season announcement”

  1. Kino Says:

    Just to make a small point, the French person is the head coach/manager of the Japanese national team, which was why fans of the Osaka gunners were mad at him. They did not want their star players to be injured during international duty.


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