The Inazuma 11 theatrical theatre animation is in many ways lazy, yet feels less so than many similar releases. Most of the film retells the series very quickly, albeit with the nice little addition of the year during which the football team was just Endou, Someoka and Handa, until it diverges at the end. A recap film is certainly a disappointment, but as there’s quite a large gulf between OLM’s cheap weakly animation and the slick but still charming work in films like Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, it was quite a joy to see old scenes redone.
Plus threaded through all this was a very, very silly time travel story. As silliness is what Inazuma 11 does best, I had no objections. The framing device for all the recaps is that Endou is being watched from the future by a shadowy organization. At their head, Hibiki – apparently a descendent of the coach but far more sinister. In their time, football has apparently become regarded as amoral or socially undesirable. Welp...okay, fine. Either way, there’s an evil organization out to stop Endou through a time portal. To do this, they change history in the Football Frontier we saw in the first season of the anime, and which was the centre of the first game. After Zeus destroy Teikoku, instead of clashing with our heroes Raimon, Zeus are then themselves crushed by Ogre, sent back from the future and somehow entered into an interschool tournament.
Ogre are absurdly powerful and of course Raimon at this stage cannot compete. But throughout the film, a sweet little boy who looks a little like Toramaru but has a headband rather like Endou’s has been watching proceedings. He, of course, is also from the future, and shows up at a crucial moment – revealing himself to be Kanon, Endou’s great-grandson (and, I have to say, a character design I rather prefer to Endou’s). Kanon not only has formidable skills, but also brings Fubuki, Toramaru, Tobitaka, Hiroto and even Fidio to help. No Tachimukai, sadly – Endou is the only goalie needed, after all.
Ogre don’t object to these reinforcements, and everyone takes the utterly bizarre time-travel story in their strides. With a newly empowered team, the ability to chain shoots and Endou spontaneously acquiring his future skills, including the not-yet-seen-in-the-series Omega the Hand, Raimon pull through and history does not change. Endou of course can give his silly pep-talks in his Naruto voice and the bad guys see the errors of their ways.
This is strictly for the fans, incredibly silly and with its recap elements, decidedly lazy. But Inazuma 11 remains a guilty pleasure, and this was still a part of that. Including the ‘pleasure’ part.