The Summer 2022 Preview Guide
Shoot! Goal to the Future
How would you rate episode 1 of
Shoot! Goal to the Future ?
Community score: 2.7
What is this?
Atsushi Kamiya is a former captain at Kakegawa High School and the world-renowned "courageous captain" for a famous Italian soccer team. Hideto Tsuji, a student at Kakegawa High School seems uninterested in the now-weakened soccer team. Their meeting is the start of a new legend.
How was the first episode?
While I've never seen the anime this soft-reboot is based on, I think this premiere does a good job of getting us up to speed. A group of kids formed their school's soccer team and brought home a national championship a mere two years later. Now, decades later, one of the original team members has returned to the school to become the (now floundering) team's coach. This is a decent enough setup—if a bit cliché—and is probably the best thing about this episode.
The problem is that the actual main character isn't the coach but rather one of the new young players, Kubo. Kubo is a walking ball of melodrama who is constantly attacked by traumatic flashbacks related to playing soccer when he was younger. Basically, he once thought he was better than he was, but when he lost the Scotty Pippin to his Michael Jordan—a kid named Kokubo—he was forced to acknowledge that had been receiving some major assistance this whole time and couldn't make the big plays all on his own. Of course, once he was no longer winning games for them, his team turned on him (and his inflated ego) and so he quit soccer altogether.
Kokubo's loss is treated with such gravitas that it's natural for a viewer to assume that he died in some tragic accident—or by cancer or something equally horrible. I mean, even the thought of soccer (and its connection to his friend) is enough to have Kubo on the ground dry heaving or curled up in his bed crying. It's played up so much that when Kokubo joyously waltzes up to Kubo and gives him a hug in the final minute of the episode, it seems more comical than anything else, and completely deflates the episode's dramatic tension.
In the end, I have no interest in continuing this series. It's tonally all over the place and the story is one we've seen in sports anime dozens of times before.
Here is my summary of Shoot! Goal to the Future: ANGST ANGST ANGST ANGST ANGST [continue shouting ANGST for 20 minutes]. Despite the key art of four boys smiling brightly in their soccer uniforms, this episode was nothing but enraged screaming, melancholy internal monologue, and homoerotic flashbacks backed up with a score of tinny synthesized strings in an aggressively minor key.
Hideto used to play soccer, but doesn't anymore because some undefined thing happened to his teammate who he was especially close to, which may or may not simply be that he went to another high school and joined the team there. Hideto is so scarred by this that he is triggered merely by hearing the word “Shoot!” – his old not-boyfriend's nickname for him – including while playing first-person shooter games. His schoolmate Kazama is so frustrated at the once-great team's downward slide that he takes it as a personal insult whenever someone doesn't care about soccer, throwing massive tantrums about it that include wall-punching.
I spent the whole episode laughing. I'm sorry, but it's just so overwrought, and so lacking in deliberate levity that it goes all the way over into unintentional comedy. Every single character is a raging asshole in their own way except for Hideto's unnamed ex, who doesn't seem to have any idea the damage he caused when he had the audacity to attend a different high school. Honestly, for all of Hideto's weeping and wailing and carrying on, I thought he was dead or quit soccer because he was too into drugs or something. At the very least moved to a different city, or picked up a different sport. But nah, he's still out there, playing soccer, and as weirdly touchy as ever.
It's an utterly ridiculous piece of fiction that covers up its own insipidness by blowing every single thing out of proportion, using BIG LARGE HUGE EMOTIONS to conceal the fact that it doesn't even have good animation. The production must have been a mess, because the animation style changes from shot to shot and the soccer is barely even animated. The character designs have that dull sheen that's a dead giveaway of a low-budget production trying to hide flat, stiff animation under some basic computer rendering.
There's so many dang sports anime coming out these days that there's no reason to waste your time on a bad one like this. Not even chuckling at teenage boys being so very very sad about things that matter very little makes it worth your time.
It could be that I was simply reacting to the viscerally unfunny Teppen—!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! premiere I had to watch earlier, but this first episode of Shoot! Goal to the Future had me busting a gut. Maybe it was the ridiculously on-the-nose opening scene of Hideto having a traumatic soccer flashback in the middle of playing the most boring-looking shooter video game imaginable. Maybe it was the proceeding five minutes of two teenage boys screaming at each other about soccer, with our main character nearly doubling over and vomiting from the anguish of it all. Maybe it was the unbelievably serious soundtrack that got slapped onto said dramatic outburst, which literally sounds like the boss music of a chintzy Final Fantasy knock-off. Either way, I was laughing so hard that I had to pause the episode, because I couldn't read the subtitles.
Now, clearly there is a problem here, since Shoot! Goal to the Future is not framing itself as a side-splitting parody or anything like that. I do think that the story is going for that typical shonen vibe of amplifying the inherent emotion and drama of high-school life so that everything feels like it's life or death, but the show has missed the mark somewhere in the execution phase. The first half of this premiere is so overwrought that it becomes difficult for a grown-ass adult like myself to take any of the characters seriously, which is a must in sports anime like this once, since not every single viewer is going to be all-in on the soccer angle, specifically.
To be fair, the show did improve a bit once it got to the scenes of Hideto actually playing soccer, though I don't want to damn Shoot! with faint praise. This isn't a particularly great sports anime, no matter how you slice it. The direction is stiff and lacking the necessary dynamism to make the sports action work, and there's still the teensy problem of there being not a single interesting or likable character in the bunch (unless, of course, you're a fan of petulant teenage whining and/or grumpy adults yelling at said teenagers about sports). The show's bizarrely self-serious tone just so happens to even out a lot when the focus isn't on Hideto crying in his room and flashing back to the glory days of elementary school soccer games.
Last season's Aoashi proved that it's far from impossible to get a jaded inside-boy like me interested in a soccer anime. The unfortunate thing about Shoot! is that it basically embodies every cliché and trope that I don't like about the genre. It'll undoubtedly have an audience, but you won't find me among them this summer.
There's nothing at all homoerotic about this show. Why would you even think that? I'm not sure why I even have to mention it. Whatever. There are also no aggressively angry people in this show, which may or may not be related to the nonexistent homoerotic elements. No one in any way gets unreasonably angry about perceived betrayals, slights, or other soccer-related issues; from former soccer player Hideto, who stopped playing when his totally-just-a-friend teammate left or vanished or something, to Kazama who thinks everyone who doesn't love soccer hates it and possibly him personally, to Kamiya, a guy from the original manga this series is either based on or a reboot of who has grudgingly agreed to coach at his old high school.
That last bit is probably the most significant piece of this introductory episode. Shoot! Goal to the Future is more-or-less a soft sequel to a series that aired fifty-eight episodes between 1993-94, itself based on a manga series that ran from 1990 to 2003. While I'm sure that there are bits and pieces that those of us just coming to the franchise now are missing, it also doesn't feel like we're at a total disadvantage here, because the main focus of this episode is mostly the DRAMA of it all. We've got a school with a once- famous team in serious decline, a group of guys with gigantic chips on their shoulders, and enough soccer-based angst that will make Blue Lock seem positively cheery by comparison. It's frankly a lot to take, and the dearth of likeable characters and discernable motives besides being unreasonably angry all the time make watching this a bit of a chore.
Certainly it doesn't help that it's also kind of light on the soccer action – the most we get is the same couple of shots of young Hideto and his pal playing a game and then Hideto scoring goals against an irate Kazama. We get about as much footage of Hideto playing an online FPS and his mother moving really weirdly around their house as we do the supposed focus of the show. That ought to make up for lackluster visuals (and weird dancing in the ending theme), but mostly it just adds to the feeling that this is just not as engaging as it ought to be. Aoashi has its problems, but I'd still take it over this in a heartbeat.
Usually when I see a bad sports show premiere, all there really is to say about it is that it's boring and looks bad. The narrative formula of a sports anime is just so firmly calcified that there's rarely room for a show to fail in a way that's surprising. But this unlikely sequel to the 90's Shoot! manga managed to surprise me in the worst way possible. Which I suppose is an accomplishment – if you can't stick out for being good, you can at least stick out for being absolutely miserable to sit through.
There is not a likable character to be found across this entire premiere. Every person who opens their mouth is annoying at best, and a violent asshole at worst. Tsuji is an insufferable mope who blames his every failure and mistake on his teammates for not covering for him. Jo has a chip on his shoulder the size of an actual soccer field and nearly beats the crap out of Tsuji multiple times in just this episode for the crime of not respecting soccer...when he's not punching walls and scaring the people around him because another team canceled a practice match. Their new coach, seemingly a returning character from the original manga, is a stonefaced jerk who directly calls his teenage students losers and useless in what I assume is meant to be a stern, tough-love attitude, but just comes off as him being as deeply immature as the kids he's mentoring. Everyone here is unpleasant to watch in any capacity, none of them are the least bit interesting to make up for it, and the sheer amount of unearned angst over high school sports is enough to drive me away all on its own.
It certainly doesn't help that the show looks as bad as its characters behave. While the soccer animation manages to clear the subterranean bar left by Farewell, My Dear Cramer's production, it only barely does so. The actual athleticism here is portrayed solely through panning stills and cheap effects that try desperately to convince you these kids are pulling off some crazy soccer moves, but none of it succeeds. And that's still the best-looking part of the premiere, because everything else barely moves. Characters are talking heads that occasionally grimace. The line weight of characters randomly changes during some scenes, making them look like they're on a different plane from the rest of the cast. It's stiff and awkward and only serves to highlight how unappealing every person here is.
This is just bad, and not in a way that's interesting or even unintentionally funny. It's a hodgepodge of trite cliches, wallowing in overblown angst that doesn't even feel authentic to its teenage characters. I always say my benchmark for a sports show is whether I'd prefer watching it over an actual game for the same amount of time, but I'd watch damn near any other sports series instead of this one if I had to choose. Even Futsal Boys!!!!!. I have no idea if the original manga/anime are like this too, or if Goal to the Future is just a terrible misfire of a revival project, but either way it's not worth your time at all.
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