I am definitely glad I chose to watch and review this anime. This weeks episode was a nice watch right until the end, when it became the best episode I have ever seen when it came to watching a sports anime; a plot twist this early in the story is either expected or unexpected, though I have not been able to determine if the plot twist itself was expected - the more likely scenario being that a plot twist is expected but not this plot twist! I'm going to say this again: I'm definitely glad I chose this anime.
The episode in its entirety was a quite a big pivotal point in both the story progression and character progression. Right from the start we see Suguru trying to awaken Kakeru's "heart," so that he can perform like a true striker but with this failing, Kakeru is beat down and seemingly on the verge crying. The story then goes on to another meeting between Kakeru and the alien-masked football player, where he is yet again beaten but reveals to the masked stranger the reason behind his avoidance to use his left leg.
Both of these events hold a lot of significance which without a doubt will end being re-visited in the future episodes. I was surprised that the reason for Kakeru's hesitaion to use his leg was that it was so powerful, but since this is a shonen sports series a more-or-less special attribute is needed for the story to keep the demographic interested. Not necessarily a bad thing since we can now what type of skill he will acquire and training he would have to undergo.
It was also nice to see Kakeru telling his secret to someone who was a complete stranger as opposed to a close friend, family member or if this fact was revealed by someone else rather than himself. With that event, I'm more interested as to how his character will develop from here on out. With that in mind, Suguru's character was the one who became more interesting as a reuslt of this episode. The reason is simple: sure you have family members supporting the story's hero but rarely do you have a situation where this family member is the one trying to get him into the sport.
The display of sibling love came at the right time in this episode; just as Suguru is in a happy mood and is about to tell Kakeru about his most recent dream, all is ruined by the van that crashed into them. The timing of this was, well a little cliched, but it's execution was well done with the use of silent scenes. This plot twist left me sad and in awe: how can they injure the hero and his brother so early on how will this effect the entire story and most importantly why is the next episode not out yet !
To conclude, this weeks episode is a great point in the story and has left me speechless and wanting. I knew Shink Kabayashi was great, but never had I imagined his works to be this captivating! With just this episode, I might have to re-think picking up another sports anime this upcoming spring!