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The Winter 2022 Preview Guide
Futsal Boys!!!!!

How would you rate episode 1 of
Futsal Boys!!!!! ?
Community score: 3.1

What is this?

In a world over a decade after futsal has skyrocketed in global popularity, Haru Yamato watches the championship of the U-18 world cup and is inspired by a Japanese player named Tokinari Tennōji. He joins the Koyo Academy High School's futsal team with the goal of becoming a player like Tennōji. There, he finds friends, and together they face their rivals.

Futsal Boys!!!!! is part of Bandai Namco Arts, Bandai Namco Entertainment, and diomedéa's multimedia project and streams on Funimation on Sundays.

How was the first episode?

Caitlin Moore

For a minute, I had what I thought would be a really clever gimmick for this review: since everything about Futsal Boys!!!!! is copied and pasted from other anime, I'd just copy and paste sentences from other reviews I'd written. Then I thought about it a little more and realized that doing that would be way more time-consuming than just writing the damn thing and getting it out of the way.

The reason I thought of the gimmick is because of just how much Futsal Boys!!!!! appears to be cobbled together from a bunch of series, some of them better but many others of a similar caliber. You've got the hyperactive redhead newbie lead paired up with the snobby experienced brunet, both determined to make their mark on a more experienced team with a number of talented players. Every character's personality feels like it was selected from a menu of possible types. I feel like an executive is just slinging generic boys at me hollering HEY YOU FEMALE, YOU LIKE CUTE BOYS RIGHT??? The encyclopedia entry tells me that each school's team members were designed by a different prominent female manga artist – the ones in today's episode came from Mizuki Kawashita – which is a cool idea, but I'm worried about seeing each artist's distinctive style genericized.

In fact, a lot of this production probably involved selecting things from a menu, because it is yet again part of a dreaded media mix project. Listen, there are some good ones here and there – the second season of Princess Connect! Re:Dive premieres tomorrow – but the vast majority are copy/pasted slogs designed primarily to promote a gacha mobile game where a few fans will spend hundreds of dollars for a jpeg of whoever they think is cutest. For some reason, the ones starring boys always seem to be creatively bankrupt, especially ones about sports or idols. Or sports idols. Futsal Boys!!!!! even includes characters doing what no doubt is their special attack in the game.

Speaking of the game, it was supposed to be released last year but was delayed due to quality issues. Maybe they learned their lesson from WAVE!! -Let's go surfing!!-.

Nicholas Dupree

There are few things more depressing to watch than a sports show with bad animation. Some genres or subject matters can get by with the right mix of direction and writing, but one centered around physical activity kind of necessitates at least functional animation. Look no further than last year's Farewell, My Dear Cramer for how nonexistent animation can hamstring an otherwise solid sports story. And while Futsal Boys!!!!! isn't quite at that level of wonky visuals, it's also got a way worse script to compensate.

The dual thesis statements of this opener pretty much amount to “futsal is cool” and “boys are cute”, in that order. And it at least partially succeeds in the latter – these boys are cute in a rather generic way, though that doesn't make them actually interesting to follow. They've all got very basic, archetypal personalities you've seen in any other sports series, but without any real character or motivation to back it up. The closest we get is the stoic, serious one who doesn't like passing the ball during matches, which is only barely brought up and not resolved by the end of this episode.

That wouldn't be as big a problem if the show didn't totally fail at its first goal – making its central sport actually look cool or interesting. Rather than any sort of exciting or interesting match, or even just an intro to what makes futsal unique compared to regular soccer, the plot of this episode revolves around our newly-formed team taking on a crew of...Futsal Bullies. Like they say they're delinquents, but instead of beating people up they seem to resolve all conflicts with futsal where they cheat and play dirty. It's almost goofy enough to make this episode charming, but sadly the bullies have as little personality as our leads, so it winds up just being the bad kind of stupid instead.

Overall this just isn't a good sports show. The art and animation fail to deliver any sense of physicality, while the writing is practically anemic. It feels like a production going through the promotions for an eventual multimedia project without any real interest or passion for its sport, making the whole thing feel like a cheap gimmick.

Rebecca Silverman

Do you miss Haikyu!!? Then check out Futsal Boys!!!!!, which seems to be trying to recapture the exact same dynamics with a different ball sport! Hopefully that statement will become less accurate in future episodes, but as of the first, it definitely looks like an attempt to capture the volleyball show's magic, right down to the personalities and color-coding of two of the main characters – Haru (red) has Hinata's blind enthusiasm not quite backed up with skill while Sakaki (blue) is an excellent, renowned player with some serious baggage in his background and a hearty disdain for Haru. Add in a couple of third years and this is all looking very, very familiar.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course. Haru's enthusiasm is very much needed in this episode, because it truly gets the plot moving – no one else would have acquiesced to the thugs' dare of a futsal game to determine whether said thugs could keep napping on the court or if the elementary schoolers could use it for its intended purpose. His overwhelming confidence and love of the game are also key features because they fool his new teammates into thinking that he's more experienced than he is, thus giving him a chance to actually get on the field and play, which otherwise might not have happened since futsal is played with such small teams. (Five to a side, sayeth Wikipedia.) It also helps to have a character like Haru to pull viewers in, especially if, like me, they know next to nothing about the sport beyond its name.

I do like that the team isn't starting with practice matches against another school, but instead a grudge match against the thugs and their friends. It's just different enough to be interesting while also establishing what cheating looks like in this specific sport. I'm definitely a little sad that we aren't likely to see more of Haru's breakdancing, but the futsal is decently enough animated, even if it does at times rely on stills and goofy names the guys come up with for their moves. Like with any sports series, how well the characters and team are developed could make or break this, because if Sakaki can't get over his selfish playstyle (because this isn't Blue Lock) or the rest of the group don't mesh, they aren't going to have a team. I think there's a decent chance for this show to work, and since I do miss Haikyu!!, it may be worth a few more episodes.

Richard Eisenbeis

Oh, Futsal Boys!!!!!, look at you once again proving that, if there is a sport out there, we will eventually get an anime about hot high school boys playing it. And I have to say, this turns out to have a much tighter script than a lot of other sports anime. In its 22-minute runtime, we get not one but two games of futsal and a basic introduction to all seven of our main characters. Sure, the characters are very one-note at the moment, and that includes our main pair: the dense-yet-carefree Haru and the super-serious ball-hog Seiichiro. But I have to say, going the action-focused route is definitely the way to go in a first episode. Also, somersaulting on an out-of-control bike over a person's head is the most unique “fated meeting” I've seen in a long time.

Where this episode is at its weakest, however, is in its antagonists. I just can't believe there are groups of thugs who A) bully literal children, B) are completely invested in futsal to the point of being an amateur team, and C) would challenge a team of high-level athletes over a perceived slight. Moreover, the fact that our heroes decide to let the thugs continue cheating—getting the crap beaten out of themselves for no reason in the process—is some seriously contrived writing. It's a cheep trick to add tension to what should be a one-sided squash and set up an episode ending cliffhanger designed to draw you back in next week.

Other than that, Futsal Boys!!!!!'s first episode is fine. If you like pretty boys and/or futsal, you'll be happy with what you see. If not, then feel free to take a pass on this one—there's nothing likely to interest you here.

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