This episode was rather different from the first – it dialled down the humour and has a more character focused story. I guess that is to be expected as the first episode needs to introduce everyone however, from watching this episode I think I’m starting to see where Area no Kishi is heading. Kakeru seems to have some good character development going on and perhaps Suguru isn’t as generic as I first thought – though all the fangirls being absent from this episode did help. In any case, Area no Kishi seems to be trying to be a proper shonen show, and I’m not so sure that being so serious over an issue such as football, is going to work. As I said before, I can appreciate the passion and esteem which some people afford football and footballers however, what I don’t understand is dramatisation of said things. Like this:
Killing intent?… You’re just playing football – even if you take it very seriously, I don’t think anyone has a killing intent. Lines like these might work in Naruto or Bleach because they have huge action scenes and a lot of people do actually die however, I do not think playing high school football is really equivalent to fighting tailed demon beasts or fighting with swords. Despite this though, I still find myself getting drawn more and more into Area no Kishi. I quite like the way Nana is getting used more and more as a mediator to reveal what Suguru is really thinking to us viewers, seeing as he is not a central character who does monologues or the chatty type for that matter. Though, I’m still not sure about the possibility of a love triangle, I am more inclined to say that its becoming more and more apparent that Nana likes Kakeru. Whilst the alien part was just cheesy in the first episode, I think it was actually a pretty good idea in this episode Kakeru shares things with us we may not have found out otherwise and we get this whole pathetic fallacy going on resulting in the tension between the brothers. This isn’t gcse english but, that is what it was. So the scripting in this episode was good. Though again, I found that at times, the dialogue didn’t seem to flow for example – If the alien person knows that he has a weak left, then why is he going into a monologue about it?! Surely you don’t tell someone that they know something then repeat it? Whilst it isn’t a huge issue, I just felt the writer was struggling to expose a lot of the back story that is missing and we are wondering about so used plot devices like this.
All that said, I did like the episode. Great character development going on, I’m beginning to connect with the characters and slowly, semblance of a detailed and dramatic plot line is forming. The end was particularly of surprise. I didn’t expect that and I’m quite curious what the outcome is. I think it will become such that Suguru will reveal his dream to Kakeru who will be motivated to become the Area no Kishi that Suguru wanted and he is going to get good as Suguru recovers so they can live out that dream. Cliché and predictable however, I think it will be entertaining nonetheless. So overall, I’m looking forward to the next episode. Kakeru looks set to get serious and the show looks set to pick up in momentum.
The episode made me randomly think of this:
Area no Kishi, or rather Knight of the Area is a football manga about, well, about football. And I guess drama, that revolves, around football. And there is some romance, which again, revolves around football… I have nothing against football, I enjoy playing it and I did used to be a big fan, but I’m by no means one of those people who would get into an argument or a fight over it or even to pay to go see a match. So, you may find it strange that I’m reviewing a football anime – well I’m doing so for two reasons: 1) I decided to check out the first episode of every anime out this season as I missed quite a few last season and 2) I’ve always thought anime isn’t really something you can make a judgement on without actually watching it, so it would be a bit contradictory of me to not give it a try – after all, I did suffer through (most) of Kill Me Baby and this couldn’t have been worse than that. I don’t think I need to sumamrise the plot as its not complicated but it is long winded so I’ll quote it from MU:
Believing himself to be useless at football, Aizawa Kakeru opts to become the manager of his school’s football team, while his brother Suguru is its ace, and is even good enough to represent Japan. However, Kakeru may be harbouring a strong talent within himself that only Suguru can see, and the two often get into arguments over Kakeru’s denial of his skills. Things are made more complicated with the return of Nana, an old playmate of theirs that Kakeru has a crush on. Join the brothers in their journey to the national and even international championships!
Now, the thing that I find strange about this synopsis, at a first glance is, why does having a crush on Nana – or as she is cleverly referred to (/sarcasm), Seven (Nana is seven in Japanese) – make things complicated? Just from watching the first episode, I could tell that she likes Kakeru as well. Its quite obvious there will be some sort of drawn out romance between them and they will likely get together – or they won’t, it may be one of those anime where the love interests never actualise their feelings. I’m not sure what Suguru’s feelings are either though, its too early to tell but we could have a love triangle. Though, I’m not that bothered to be honest. Its perfectly okay for the parties to obviously like each other, as its not uncommon for the story to be about how they get together, not whether they do want to be together. Apart from that, there isn’t much else in terms of romance. One thing I was not amused by though, was the way they typecast Kakeru’s 15 year old, older brother Suguru. He is portrayed as a mature, older person and he is designed to be a bishounen by the looks of the fanmail he gets from the girls – to the point that Kakeru quite amusingly collects confessions from a line of girls for Suguru – and everyone respects him etc etc. I’ve never understood in anime why, when someone is good at something, they are then characterised to be amazing in all aspects. There is nothing wrong with him being good at football, but then why does he have to then be the most popular person in the school, lead the club, be loved by all the girls, be extremely good looking and probably a genius? Its just lazy on the part of the writer to me. Rather than make relate-able and convincing characters, considering this is a sports anime so it should be somewhat realistic, we just get a big cliché of the anime world; the good-at-everything type. Not to say I don’t like the character, but I don’t think I’m expecting him to break his stereotype. I’m looking more towards Kakeru for a meaningful character. However, this is a preliminary analysis, so I’ll admit I could be wrong about his character – he is quite reserved in this episode so I do hope we learn more.
In any case, whilst the romance is probably a primary feature of the anime, its not the main focus for me. The main focus, is the football and the story, which I must say, I found surprisingly enjoyable. The surprises were actually multi-layered; there was a decent story, characters I actually found enjoyable and to top it off, it was quite funny at parts. The scenes where Nana comes to the classroom and the boys swoon as they denounce the other girls claiming they “finally have a hot girl”, the assault on Kakeru by his classmates because he is close with Nana, the crowd of girls, fangirling Suguru as he went down the halls – it was all quite comical. I must admit, I found myself enjoying the show more and more – the anime just seems to have (excuse the phrase) that like-factor. The style of the art was a treat as well, it wasn’t anything amazing or particularly stylish, it just seemed to mesh really well with the atmosphere of the show. The mood is light hearted, the jokes are generally quite innocent and the simple but quite vibrant animation did enhance the playing scenes. I definitely enjoyed the characters, with my favourite being Kakeru’s fellow team mate, Kota. His antics regarding Nana were quite amusing, I especially liked his “legal sexual harassment” idea (as a joke).
That said however, the anime doesn’t take itself lightly, it does seem to boast a solid story line and some intense relationships. As I said, I can’t personally see how or why people would get too agitated over football, but I can appreciate the passion with which some people hold it. It certainly seems like football is the life of these guys, and it does feel like it is a matter of life or death. The usually deep and meaningful shounen lines which I thought would have sounded stupid or just misplaced, weren’t actually. I found myself taking the characters quite seriously. Whether that means I secretly like sports anime, but is just unbeknownst to me, or whether the anime is just good; I’m not so sure. Having never watched any other sport anime – apart from Hajime no Ippo which was hot blooded action and hard comedy through and through so isn’t really comparable – I’m not sure which one it is. All I know, is that I wasn’t put off and probably, I will keep watching – especially after the last line of the episode where Kakeru proclaimed it was the last time they’d play on the same field, despite the story indicating they’re striving to move forward together. I hope they haven’t intensified a really trivial plot line, like his brother goes to another team and they promise not to play together until they play for Japan, or some such. Either way, I guess I’m looking forward to finding out.
I’ve really surprised myself and written a lot more than I intended, perhaps this just reinforces my suspicion that I’m going to enjoy this show. To summarise then, whilst I do have my doubts about the character of Suguru and whilst the relationship between Kakeru and Nana doesn’t seem like its going to be an especially deep one, there are quite a few positives that make the show good. The great art, the humour, the way to style compliments the feel of the show and even the story and characters are pretty solid – I find myself starting to like this show. I’m a bit beside myself in this respect as I’ve never had any interest in sports (especially football) anime. But actually, Area no Kishi has done well, the football is actually detailed in such a way that you can follow the different tricks, the games are paced, it feels like we’re in motion and generally, there is a spirited feel about the anime. To finish then, Area no Kishi’s first episode, receives a 7.5/10 for me. Hopefully, this will only increase.
|Likelihood I’ll be watching: Probable||Likelihood I’ll be blogging: Decent|