Episode 1 – “First Touch” – April 9, 2022
At the Ehime Prefecture Junior High School Boys’ Soccer Tournament Preliminaries, underdogs Futamihama Junior High are making an amazing comeback, fueled by their star forward, Ashito Aoi. Thanks to Ashito’s skills, Futamihama seems destined for greatness. However, the opposing team’s goalie begins taunting Ashito, his team, and, most hurtfully, his mother.
From the stands, spectators see Ashito violently attack the goalie, which leads to Ashito’s ejection from the game and ultimate Futamihama’s defeat. Due to his actions, Ashito even loses his potential recommendation to play for a strong soccer high school.
Frustrated over what happened, Ashito goes off to train. While out, he runs into a mysterious man who is insanely good at soccer. Amazed by what he sees, Ashito asks the man to teach him the move he just made. For the next several hours, Ashito desperately tries to recreate what he saw, but to no avail.
The man admits that he caught Ashito’s game and was impressed by how his team had complete faith in him. This comment annoys Ashito, causing him to explain, in full detail, how one of the match’s more remarkable goals came to be. The man tries to hide it, but he cannot believe Ashito could consider and remember the position of all 22 players on the field.
The following day, the man discovers that Ashito had continued to practice the move all night and had managed to master it. Convinced, the man reveals himself to be Fukuda Tatsuya, the Tokyo City Esperion FC Youth manager. Fukuda has had his eye on Ashito because he believes Ashito has the potential to join an ambitious new soccer club. Tryouts are in Tokyo, and Ashito has earned an invitation.
Back at home, Ashito’s mother disapproves of Ashito going to Tokyo, both for financial reasons and the fact that Ashitois still just a junior high student. Nevertheless, Ashito can’t get Fukuda’s offer out of his head.
Then, Ashito’s older brother, Shun, informs Ashito that Fukuda was once a player for the Japanese national soccer team, who went on to play internationally. Not only that, Shun wants his brother to chase his dream, so he loans Ashito the money to make it to the tryouts.
It is difficult for a sports anime to grab my attention. For most of these types of shows, they garner some interest from me by highlighting lesser-known sports; at least then, I get some exposure to something I would have never thought to go out of my way to lookup. However, Aoiashi is about soccer; you can’t get more popular than that.
Be that as it may, from this first episode, it would appear this series will be playing up its personality – a.k.a., its characters – and have its central sport be more of a backdrop. If this turns out to be the show’s route, I can see myself enjoying Aoiashi quite a bit. Already, it has me impressed; and for a first episode, you cannot ask for more.