Final Review: Area no Kishi

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless otherwise noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Area no Kishi is based off an ongoing manga that involves Kakeru Aizawa who dreams to be the Knight of the Area that his deceased elder brother, Suguru Aizawa, imagined him to be. With Suguru’s heart transplanted into Kakeru, Kakeru now feels his brother’s spirit inside him and the urge to be the soccer player and striker in Japan, with his first goal being the inter-high champion. Area no Kishi ran for 37 episodes beginning in Winter 2012 and was simulcasted by CrunchyRoll.

Area no Kishi is the one of two soccer anime titles these past few seasons, with Ginga e Kickoff! being the other. While the latter title is still ongoing, Area no Kishi is yet another one of those shows that simultaneously tries too hard at being another while throwing in original elements from the other end of the spectrum. In this case, the show tries too hard at being Cross Game, a show where someone dies and makes a large impact on someone else’s performance in sports. As for original elements, it’s “comedy.” Unfortunately, the comedy is extremely bland and doesn’t fit well with the show. Furthermore, the soccer “skills” in this show are far from believable yet attempts to pass it off as tamed, which is usually not a good thing to do. The biggest flaw of course came in the initial episodes where Kakeru saves a kid from being run over by a car with a single kick of a soccer ball at the weirdest possible angle. The weirdness only continues from there for the remainder of the series. The suspense of the soccer matches are also nowhere near as exciting as they should be. A lot of recycled plays are often found and there’s no clear explanation or visual of deducing and getting around an opponent’s strategy. This point is where Giant Killing prevailed a few years ago and Area no Kishi failed. Instead, the series relies heavily on “miracles.” Araki’s volatile weight problem also remains unbelievable.

Art is okay for the show. The backgrounds are a bit bland but okay for the most part. Character designs are nice and colorful but don’t really match the backgrounds. Animation, however, is incredibly basic. Movements are stiff and repetitive and there’s a heavy reliance on special effects for a number of plays. Last I checked, soccer plays don’t involve the ball moving in impossible angles. If this show tried something like Kuroko no Basuke’s explanation or approach, there would at least be some backing to it, but in the end, they simply call these players or executors “geniuses.” Animation wise, Shin-Ei Animation is behind this. This is the studio behind Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan so I would say this is probably still on par as they don’t seem to have improved significantly over the years. Of course, they also did Jungle wa Itsumo Hare nochi Guu, which is still quality animation to this day for them.

OP is boring and forgettable. There is no ED for the series. Background music is often just repetitive variations of the OP instrumental. Sound effects are below average with a huge lack of appropriate soccer sound effects. Seiyuu wise, Yuuko Sanpei was disappointing as Kakeru. Far too annoying considering her experience as Yumehara Nozomi (Cure Dream) or Renton in Eureka Seven. Shizuka Itou as Nana was solid as was Jun Fukuyama as Suguru.

Enjoyment? Area no Kishi started off with some potential but quickly turned south with its “miracles” and poor sense of humor. It quickly became a drag to watch and given that it seems like the show ended earlier than anticipated, it likely means the ratings agree. Ginga e Kickoff! was clearly a better choice from the get go despite an equally annoying protagonist.

Overall, Giant Killing and Cross Game are far superior alternatives to Area no Kishi. You could also throw in Inazuma Eleven if you want soccer with superpowers. Area no Kishi has nothing that the former two don’t already do much better though. Furthermore, the 37 episodes don’t even provide a satisfying conclusion or anything to really look forward to in the future if this show does get a sequel.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): Solid start similar to Cross Game and Giant Killing.
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): Annoying Kakeru. Nana and Suguru are okay.
  • Character Development (1/2): Some development on Kakeru but not that much explored.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (0.5/2): Cast grows quite large and names are not even that memorable given the lack of names mentioned.
  • Pacing: (1/1): Generally slow as expected for a sports anime. This is what keeps it relatively interesting to say the least.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (0.5/2): Passes impossible plays as possible. Provides little reason behind anything.
  • Conclusion (0/1): Ends too abruptly with nothing to motivate a sequel.
  • Total: 4.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1.5/2): Bland coloring but fair detail
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): Good character designs but unfitting with setting.
  • Fluidity (1/2): Basic
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Flashy plays but basic. Lots of recycling.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Shin-Ei Animation is behind this show. Most of their experience comes from Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan. Area no Kishi animation pretty much par.
  • Total: 6/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (0/3): The show has no ED theme, meaning the entire score is weighted on its OP theme. It’s not a good them and generally forgettable.
  • Background Music (0.5/2): Multiple variations of the OP instrumental make up the soundtrack for this show.
  • Sound Effects (0.5/2):  Lacks appropriate soccer sound effects.
  • Seiyuu (2/3): Yuuko Sanpei as Kakeru is unfortunately annoying. Everyone else is okay.
  • Total: 3/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Starts off okay. Some matches are fun to watch.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0/2): Lost me by the end of episode 3
  • Presentation (1/2): Not easy to pick up and hold on to given the lengthy continuity in both the plot and soccer matches. Some matches can span as long as 5 episodes but can get pretty intense and hooked.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Zero.
  • Recommendation (0/2): Cross Game and Giant Killing come to mind first. Inazuma Eleven would be a follow-up.
  • Value (0/1): None
  • Total: 2/10

Preliminary Score: 8/10

Final Score: 4/10

1 Comment

  1. Mirnes314 Said,

    February 16, 2013 @ 1:25 am

    area no kishi is awesome I want to see who wins the tournament does he play against Leonardo ??? does he bring his brothers spirit back into the game…does he improve ??? its so much not said the anime shows love, affection, lose everything a person wants to see a lot of people have suffered also from heart transplants me being one of those people don’t cancel the show the show does wonders for people like me it gives us hope and a happy feeling inside please make a season 2 …it brings joy to peoples eyes its exiting it has potential to be one of the biggest anime’s out there I promise you that if it ever comes out on DVD I am buying a copy to keep forever thanks for hearing me out

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