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Giant Killing
by Unproductive on January 21st, 2010, 10:17am

Rating - 8.4 / 10.0

User rating of this review - 4.8 out of 5
Story/Plot - 4 out of 5
Characters - 5 out of 5
Drawing Style - 4 out of 5
Enjoyment - 4 out of 5
Overall - 4 out of 5

Click here for series information

One football club in Japan League's first division, ETU, is in crisis. In the backdrop of declining finances and just barely staying up last year by finishing in 15th place, its General Managers goes out to England to bring back one of its former stars, Takeshi Tatsumi, as the club's Manager and in the process is treated to a glimmer of the man's potential.

Upon returning to Japan, challenges pop up fast and furious. Club supporters are unruly, still miffed at a perceived betrayal of their club by Tatsumi, club finances are poor and no reinforcements to the club are considered, and the players are already entrenched in their respective roles on the team and in their mindset towards the game. As Tatsumi starts tinkering with the club, no one understands what the heck he's doing. Is it madness? Is it method? And how long are the fans willing to wait before passing their judgement?

In the world of sports series, Giant Killing is quite unique in focusing on the manager and the fans of a professional team. It introduces a new layer of tension on top of the usual in game pressure faced by the players, and provides a perspective on the business aspect of professional sports, the fandom culture that keeps football clubs afloat, the chess match of tactics between the managers along the touchlines, and the love-hate relationship teams have with the media. This unique perspective the the greatest appeal of the story.

Running counter to this is the theme of "Giant Killings" where Tatsumi leads his team to stunning upsets of prestigious or renowned clubs. The combination of the unique perspective and the them of giant killings forces the plot to be revealed in build up of suspense where Tatsumi's decisions are highly questionable, volume long depictions of games where the players duke it out on the field, and a flashback account of Tatsumi's lockroom speeches or practice squad activities. While the build up of suspense is highly enjoyable, the depictions of the games, and the flashbacks dilutes the real substance of the series.

The character designs are very nice. While much of the characters are ancillary to the overall plot, they are all unique realistic people and gives the series a plausibility that many other series lack. In time, the reader should come to embrace all the characters and appreciate both their virtues and their flaws.

Drawing Style
The drawing style compliments the mood and the characters. It does what it needs to without drawing too much attention to itself.

While I find that the suspense and resolution with the completion of games and the flashbacks, the overall enjoyment is reduced by the long drawn out depiction of individual games characteristic of the sports genre.

In the end, despite its innovation into focusing on the manager, the front office, and the fans of a professional club, the series is at its core a sports series. Thus, it is light, engaging, and popular with the casual fan that wants a dose of football drama on a weekly basis. It is a bit too slow for reader that are looking for well-paced story that consistently captures the reader. The first 5 volumes are worth a read for those looking for a taste of innovation in the sports genre.
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Satisfying review by calstine on February 28th, 2010, 9:39am Rating: 4.8

It's very nice and balanced. I enjoy reviews that are unbiased and factual. It helped me decide quite clearly whether I wanted to read this manga or not.(Specially since I'm not the greatest fan of sports manga.)
I hope you will write more helpful reviews of this sort in the future!
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