Tuesday, 16 December 2014

イナズマイレブン / Inazuma Eleven: seasons IV & V

I’ve come to realize that whoever labelled these ‘seasons’ of Inazuma 11 was going purely by the different opening sequences, labelling a new season each time the song and animation changed. That isn’t what makes a new anime season, but never mind – I’ve started this way, so I might as well finish. On the other hand, it didn’t seem worth doing just ‘season IV’ when the next one was very much a continuation of the same arc, so I’ve combined four and five. The sixth and final ‘season’ is still the same arc, but as we finally saw the back of Kabeyama here, it seems a good breaking-off point.

After defeating the meteor-powered kids masquerading as aliens, and the new adorably-unitarded dark team made up of former Raimon Eleven members, only one challenge awaits the team: to be the best in the world.

Luckily, the ‘Football Frontier International’ tournament is in place for them to compete for just that title. This is the first of its kind, with the best youth footballers of the world competing to stand on the highest possible level (bar real aliens appearing). First, our beloved characters must compete for a place on the team, which is by no means assured. A mysterious new coach selects the team not just from Raimon members, but from their old rivals too, making for some tensions within the ranks – all of which are resolved with lots of delicious melodrama. There are some new characters too, most notably one yankii kid with a hilarious pompadour who can’t play football at all (but has a mysterious nullifying power) and the adorable Toramaru. Toramaru is a lot like Gon from HunterxHunter in looks and personality, with great skills and an adorable boy-crush on Goenji – and hasn’t been seen before simply because he’s an elementary school student!
Once the team is finalized, they have to qualify in the regional tournament. Here come some small surprises, most notably that Aphrodi, of ‘God Knows’ fame, is not Japanese, nor Greek...but Korean. Well, why not?
The real fun begins after qualification. Hilariously, this football competition is such a big deal that an entire island has been converted so that each team and its supporters can stay in an area that looks like their home country. So riding the bus around the island, one goes from areas reminiscent of Japan to Italy to Argentina to England.
The first rounds of the competition are dramatic. England are particularly amusing, their team ‘Knights of Queen’ having some amusing techniques involving Excalibur and suchlike. On the other hand, perhaps fittingly given our usual World Cup performance, they are the first losers of the tournament. Inazuma Eleven lose to Argentina because of Kageyama’s machinations, but scrape through qualification thanks to the points system and securing a draw with Italy – who the audience sympathizes with because they were manipulated by Kabeyama, yet also manage to finally bring out his humanity. Just in time for him to be arrested and face justice.
There’s lots of nice personal drama too. The new coach, just like the last one, makes mysterious decisions that the team only understand when they gain a deeper understanding. The new female manager has amnesia thanks to a tragic past that Endou’s strong heart can save her from. Adorable Tachimukai must overcome being imitative and make his own techniques, which Endou himself also has to think about since his techniques come from his grandfather’s notes. Italy have their own issues, not just with Kageyama but with their absent captain, though cute and highly skilled second-in-command Fideo can bring the team together. Then there’s the American team, where of course prior teammates Ichinose and Domon are good enough to have made the team and can clash with their old nakama. Kabeyama finally upgrades THE WALL to THE MOUNTAIIIIN. Then there are the former female Raimon members: it isn’t actually mentioned at any point, but only male team members can participate, so the girls come as...yup, supporters to cheer from the sidelines. Oh well. In fairness this kind of tournament would have been gender-segregated.

The other plot strands that will be going into the final ‘season’ are the fact that Endou’s famous grandfather is still alive, and already met Endou when he was driving around with tire in his truck (though Endou of course didn’t realize who he was talking to), and that the organizers of the tournament are clearly shady types who have an evil ulterior motive. And then sadly that will be it for this particular team.

But the Inazuma Eleven saga doesn’t end there. We’ll have a little timeskip and continue with Inazuma Eleven Go! and a whole new main cast. Will I keep watching? Damn straight I will. I love the brainless enjoyment of this daft little show. When I’m done with it I’ll probably have to go on to Youkai Watch for the same kind of enjoyment. 

No comments:

Post a Comment