Mimi: Addicting, suspenseful, and fun, this is a story about what it takes for one dysfunctional soccer team with a poor record to make it in the national soccer league, and this team is called ETU (East Tokyo United). The members of this team start out with a lot of difficulty; they have poor communication, conflicting personalities, mixed self-esteem, and a reliance on one team member. But within every player, there is a talent that is waiting to be manifested. Their new coach, Tatsumi Takeshi, helps to bring out the ‘giant killing’ in all of them.
Sports anime tend to have a few story elements in common, like a central main protagonist who is a young prodigy, stereotypical characters (there’s always got to be the cute, black-haired rival), and lots of filler episodes. However, Giant Killing moves away from these and turns out to be something refreshing in its genre. It’s a short series that spends its time wisely to develop its characters while still focusing head-strong on the sport. There is no central main character, or a prodigy for that matter—everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and receive an equal amount of attention.
Giant Killing takes a nice, introspective approach to the characters while they’re playing on the field. They constantly think about their situation, worry about their performance, and others. The field is simply where most of the character development takes place as they learn to change/apply their thinking and sharpen their skills.
ETU’s players are adults (20 – 33 years old), and they each have a unique combination of personality and skill. For example, Tsubaki (midfielder) is young, shy, and conscientious, and he is a remarkable fast runner. Gino (midfielder) is the narcissistic cool-guy known as the “prince,” though he’s wisely observant, and he makes very accurate ball passes. Natsuki (forward) is also narcissistic but in a loud, eccentric sort of way, and he shoots very beautiful goals. Murakoshi (midfelder) is looked up to as the leader, but he is way too controlling and lacks some energy due to him being older. There is honestly never a boring moment with them, whether they’re just practicing, playing for real, or sitting on the bus to go home.
You might as well call coach Tatsumi a psychologist. He is good at reading and understanding his players, and he becomes active in sorting out their personal issues. His specialty is to take advantage of their personalities in the games, purposely pairing them up with certain opponents and counting on them to make personality-driven decisions. Though the funny thing is, not a single player or outsider understands HIM. Tatsumi acts very informal, blunt, and unpredictable; he designs unusual practice activities, comes up with reckless-sounding game plans, and rarely ever expresses worry. Simply put, he’s an oddball, but deep down he’s a good strategist who can unite his players.
The players on the opposing teams are just as well-developed and are incredibly DIVERSE. They speak the language of their nationality, such as English, Portuguese, French and Dutch, which is a refreshing change from having every one speak only Japanese. A few obvious differences between these teams and ETU are their levels of organization, strategies, and behaviors. They have a lot more momentum going on because they have accumulated a lot of wins up to this point, and everybody likes to have a big ego. But when they’re put under the fire by surprise, they face similar internal problems as ETU, such as their personalities getting in the way of each other.
As for the side characters, you just have a few people working along with Tatsumi, a reporter, a cameraman, and the fans. What is awesome about the fans is that you see three generations of them: the old fans who are rekindling their passion for ETU, the younger, loyal fans who get involved with the team as much as possible, and the kids.
At first glance, the character designs are simple and boring. At second glance, they’re actually very detailed. The shape of the head, eyes, nose, chin, and hairstyle are different for all of the characters, causing them to look vastly distinct from one another. The main-turn off is just that they don’t look visually appealing.
The soccer matches are animated very well. When viewing them from a distance, CGI is clearly used to make every single player on the field move at the same time. Watching them close-up, it’s impressive how they pass the ball and shoot goals; they really twist their bodies around in odd ways to make these kinds of moves, and at some pretty awesome camera angles.
The soundtrack here is catchy and decent. The OP song “My Story ~Mada Minu Ashita e~” by THE CHERRY COKES is very upbeat, full of cheery shouting, and uses the bagpipe as a leading instrument. The ED song “Get tough!” by G.P.S sounds similar with the exception of it being dominantly rock. The rest of the music is repetitive but decent enough.
If you’re looking for an entertaining sports anime with diverse adults, national teams, spoken foreign languages, and maybe a slightly eccentric coach, then look no further. Even if you’re not really into this genre or sport like I am, it can still be a great watch. The soccer matches are very detailed and build up a lot of suspense, and the characters develop beautifully every time they play. The player’s interactions are best part of the show; they know drama, and they know how to make the games incredibly addicting to watch. This one shouldn’t be missed!
Mimi’s Score: 9 Meeps out of 10 (Great)