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All Out!!
Episode 3

by Anne Lauenroth,

How would you rate episode 3 of
All Out!! ?
Community score: 3.7

It's time for Jinko High School's first friendly game against Keijo (with no exclamation points and significantly fewer butts). Gion can barely contain his excitement, which turns into the expected anger and frustration when he doesn't get to start off playing in the match. Then again, neither does his potential rival for the position of winger, Ebumi, so they serve as this game's obligatory sideline commentators along with team manager Hoakari and fellow non-starter Matsuo, cluing us in on what's happening on the field and why each play might be relevant. The show continues to handle necessary info dumps about the rules and regulations of rugby with grace, never telling viewers new to the sport more than we need to know to follow the game just like rookie Gion would – not totally lost, still somewhat baffled, but ever curious. I want to say intrigued, but sadly, successfully avoiding exposition overload isn't enough to convey the excitement that could have been present if the animation could breathe visual tension into the game's narrative. It sure would be nice if there was much animation beyond stills and speedlines during the first scrum.

So, what's a scrum? According to our commentators, it's what happens when someone drops the ball, which is sufficient information at this point. We didn't need any more potentially boring verbal explanation if this was followed up by a cool display of pushing and being pushed back while trying to get possession of the ball lost somewhere in the middle, until it finally emerges behind the victorious team. But where there could have been dynamic camera angles trying to follow the ball, close-up shots of feet losing their ground, or hands clinging on to their fellow team members, there was nothing. For a show about rugby, sparking a sense of physical thrill in the viewer is essential, and All Out!! isn't quite there yet. Luckily, clever editing and sound design can make up for some of the show's animation shortcomings. The soundtrack's mix of taiko drums, electric guitars, and battle cries creates some very nice physical tension and anticipation before the game.

The only one clearly not anticipating this game is Iwashimizu. Dreading the idea of having to play against his old friend Miyūki, he has to force himself to even step out of the subway. After that, he spends half the game too terrified to put his considerable strength to use. If he was scared that Miyūki might hold a grudge because of the accident in middle school, his concerns were not only unfounded, but Miyūki even defends his old friend against Gion's insults. Unlike Iwashimizu, a fully healed and obviously quite talented Miyūki has clearly been looking forward to their game, showing concern when his teammates target Iwashimizu as Jinko's weak link, then showing frustration when Iwashimizu refuses to tackle him.

However, for reasons that feel like a rather forced "because," it's not Miyūki's unbroken friendship, the realization of his forgiveness, or his friend's anger that wakes Iwashimizu from his comatose state. All it takes is being cheered on (or screamed at) by Gion. Sure, Gion is his teammate now, but given their very limited time to bond and Gion's consistent rudeness, it doesn't feel like their blossoming friendship would've had the time to emotionally surpass Iwashimizu's childhood bonds with Miyūki. I'll still gladly accept that someone managed to unfreeze "tree trunk" so he might become useful in the game and plot though.

While we haven't been introduced to most of Jinko's other team members beyond their names and positions, Sekizan's rugby journey from slightly scrawnier freshman (with less awesome hair, but already piercing eyes) to team captain has been fleshed out via flashback. It was Sekizan's endurance and determination (well, and his eyes) that made Keijo's vice-captain Taira fall in manly love with him two years ago. Sekizan has come a long way since then, inspiring his team with his fearlessness and perseverance (and, possibly, his eyes). It doesn't come as a revelation that determination and the unified will to win will eventually enable physically weaker players to rise above their limitations. Still, it couldn't have hurt to let the other lesson Gion was almost ready to learn sink in a bit longer: the humbling realization that heart alone cannot make up for lack of training or physical aptitude. Or basic respect.

Gion wants to play a gentleman's sport. He should acquire some manners along with his back muscles.

Rating: C+

All Out!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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