Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
BD+DVD - Part 2
This second half of the rugby action show officially goes beyond what is available in its original manga form in English as of this writing. That means that even if you've been reading Kodansha's digital-only translation, you're in for some new material with these twelve episodes. That's definitely exciting for fans of the series, and the episodes do largely live up to the anticipation, albeit in a format that does feel slightly rushed and truncated.
When we last saw the boys of the Jinko rugby team, things seemed to be going pretty well. They were showing marked improvement on the field, Gion was being kept mostly in check by the new coach, and they were really beginning to come together as a team. That, of course, was before the end of the school term, a time when people begin to drop out of clubs for whatever reason. That's the case with Keta, a teammate who suddenly announces his departure. While it really is the norm – the coach's buddy even warned him about it – it hits Sekizan with the force of a flying tackle. Keta's reasons are valid (physical wear and tear are among them), but Sekizan can't fathom that someone wouldn't take the sport as seriously as he does, or even that that seriousness could have repercussions. This makes Keta's quitting the team an important moment in a few ways: not only does it raise the specter of how much of a toll, physically and emotionally, the game can take on someone, but it also forces Sekizan to confront the idea that even as team captain he can't fix everything – and not everyone is going to feel the same way that he does.
It highlights once again that Sekizan, for all of his imposing physique, really is just a high school kid, and an emotionally young one at that. His earnestness burns him with Keta, and it's easy to see that he blames himself for Keta's departure. That he also promptly takes the wrong lesson (or perhaps no lesson) from the situation becomes clear in the final episodes of the season when Matsuo makes a similar announcement, albeit about his college plans. All of the third years, but especially Sekizan, see this as a major betrayal instead of recognizing that everyone is different and has their own goals, which change over time. Instead of acknowledging Matsuo's choices, they shun him, once again demonstrating that despite their muscles and veneer of maturity, they really are just kids.
That's often something that's easy to lose track of in anime about teenagers, especially with the convention that adults don't exist/are idiots. Coach Komori's role in the show directly contradicts most of those tropes, providing a stable, supportive adult figure for his team. It would have been nice to see him try a bit harder with the Matsuo storyline, but when we contrast him with what, specifically, is revealed about Ebumi's and Ise's homelives, with one being under the control of an abusive guardian and the other neglected, he still plays an important stabilizing role simply by existing. In this half we get to see him working one-on-one with a few of the guys as well, which is good for both his character development and theirs, although in a couple of places it does also lend an air of melodrama to the series.
The dub continues strong, and both casts do a good job with what they have, with Christopher Sabat standing out again as Komori. The animation, on the other hand, takes some hits, with the characters nigh unrecognizable in episode twenty-two and everyone frequently off-model overall. When it's good, it does really work, however, with Ebumi in particular often having the physique and movements of a dancer, which looks very nice. There's still plenty of beefcake material, with lots of scenes of boys in tight shorts and shirts, making this a good show if that's what you're looking for. As with the first set, extras are limited to clean songs and trailers.
As with many series adapted from ongoing manga, All Out!! doesn't have a particularly conclusive ending. It does leave us with a team poised to move on to bigger and better things, however, and with characters who, if not fully grown or developed, are at least on their way there. Gion as a protagonist has only moderately learned to temper himself, and I'd say that Sekizan got the most character development overall, but as a story about a team coming together, this show can be said to have accomplished what it set out to do.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C+
Animation : C
Art : C-
Music : B-
+ Some good exploration of characters' differing motives, more development for Coach Komori
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