I continue to be impressed by this series. After four episodes, it has yet to fall into any overly fanservicey, or poor storytelling, traps. Instead, it is managing to stay on a pretty easygoing, but engaging, buildup towards the FC Summer Tournament.
It has also decided to take a break from focusing on Asuka, Misaki and Masaya. Instead it put Mashiro to the forefront as we’re given some insight into her thought processes and behaviour away from Misaki. It was a brilliant idea as it changed the pacing ever so slightly, managing to keep from getting bored by the time spent following Asuka’s improvement.
It also helped by providing a different perspective on how the other characters’ skills appear to a beginner. Mashiro’s feelings of inadequacy were well portrayed and her desire to improve was pretty nice to see. It was also nice that her teacher turned out to be Rika, giving the other girl some much needed screen time and character building as well.
Actually, this episode was just a wealth of character building for minor cast members. A smart move as it will undoubtedly make future competition even stronger now that we’ve become invested in some of the other characters. It’s a move that is not usually expected from a visual novel adaptation, however, and shows how much more this series has in common with sports anime, rather than the visual novel genre.
My only real complaint about this episode is that Masaya’s still not really utilized. Although it was really nice that Mashiro could bond with a player from another team, the fact that one of our “leads” has still yet to receive any decent amount of characterization after four episodes is disappointing. If the series continues to try to drag out the mystery behind his reasons for quitting FC, it will be a real strike against it overall. I’m just hoping that he will get a chance to be the focus of an episode as well.
Other than that, the animation has improved from the earlier episodes. There’s a lot less of a reliance on CG, and when it’s used it’s definitely less obtrusive and noticeable than it was at the start. It makes this an easy to watch and pleasant series.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the fourth episode, the stronger sports anime vibes are appreciated, and the time taken to give characterization to a couple of minor characters was also nice. Now if only they could give the male lead some more time to shine, and things would be pretty much perfect with this one. If you haven’t been watching this one, but are looking for something truly relaxing to watch, this one is highly recommended.
Episode 4 Rating: 8.5/10
AOKANA streams new episodes Mondays exclusively on Crunchyroll.