We’ve been sucking at this sport for years but it’s still fun to play…even though we suck.

Another sports anime in the books. All Out!! focuses on the rugby team of Kanagawa High School, also known as Jinko. If you’ve read my Days article, you know I’m pretty big into sports anime. I’m pretty open to watching any of them even if I know nothing about the sport. This anime was an instance for me to learn a little about rugby. I watch sports anime for the excitement and stress of those imaginary players actually playing the sport. With that in mind, the characters and their personality are most definitely more important than the sport itself.

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This series begins with meeting a couple new freshmen. Gion Kenji, a short tempered, short person, that’s insecure about being short. Then we have his polar opposite in Iwashimizu Sumiaki, a giant in terms of height, compared to Gion, and highly introverted. Gion generously gives him the nickname of “tree trunk”, what a nice guy. They get scouted by the vice-captain of the rugby team, Matsumi Hachiouji aka Hachi-senpai. He invites them to watch their practice in hopes of it persuading their doubts about joining the team. The unexpected happens as Gion is fascinated by this unfamiliar sport because his size doesn’t matter. On the other end, Iwashimizu is haunted by a troubled past.

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Iwashimizu previously played for his middle school rugby team but feels responsible for injuring his best friend on the team during practice and ruining their chances in the tournament. Luckily enough Jinko gets a practice game right after they join and they just happen to be playing against Iwashimizu’s old teammate and best friend. With the help of Gion’s words, Iwashimizu seizes the opportunity to wipe away his past and make up with his former teammate.

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As the series progresses they come to realization that they’re still lacking as a team even though they train so hard. Their new coach and former national team coach, Komori Shingo comes to their aid during their training camp. They’ve never had a proper coach to assist them in training, get practice games, or give advice on how to play the game. Yoshida-sensei, the team’s advisor had tried previously but it was to no avail as the students at the time didn’t care as much as he did.

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Now this is my personal opinion but the first half of this series is a bunch of bullshit. Nothing significant enough happens for you to get sucked into their world. Yes there’s the new freshmen, not just Gion and Iwashimizu. Yes they have a former national team coach on their side now. Yes, they’ve played a few practices matches but does that make them better all of sudden? My point is that they never had a goal to work towards until after 12 episodes. Everything just felt meaningless until that point where they realize “hey there’s a tournament we can enter to see if we’re good and/or try to win”.

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With that all said and done, the second half the series is much much much better. They have a proper summer training camp as they head to Sugadaira. Top teams from all over the country gather here to have practice matches against one another. This is Jinko’s chance to evaluate themselves among the best. Now this half also features a majority of the drama, within the team mostly. Tensions get high as players fight for the “starting” positions during the camp and motivations waiver as the results of practice games seem mediocre.

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This series finale has Jinko face off against the strongest team in Kanagawa, Ryoin. But it’s just their B team, their secondary lineup. They’re in that lineup for a reason but Ryoin B end up underestimating the unknown Jinko team and falter in the first half. Ryoin’s coach tells them off about it and even the strongest player on their team decides he wants to step on the field, Zanba Ryuujin. Zanba is a giant on the field and I like to compare him to Daiki Aomine from Kuroko no Basket. His talent on the field is immense and everyone can feel his presence. It’s no surprise that Zanba took over and won the game for Ryoin.

Now I want to talk about the members of Jinko. Their roster has many different personalities even though some of them seem insignificant. The main problem for me is that there was no connection to be built between myself, a viewer, and the characters of Jinko. I’m not saying there aren’t any that are like-able. I mentioned in the opening that if you can’t feel the same emotions as the players then what are you watching for? It’s not as entertaining when you’re unable to feel the tension “in game”.

To sum it up, my biggest strife here is that they’ve only ever participated in practice games. There was no tension to feel. There was no strive to win. There was only the strive to become better. That strive only came to existence once a self evaluation occurred. With no real competition present in this series, it falls short of everything a sports anime should be. On the contrary, it feels like a slice of life, comedy with light drama that just happens to feature rugby. I cannot recommend this anime even though I know it’s not horrible. I don’t even think it’s worth mentioning among sports anime to be honest. If there happens to be a second season on their efforts in the tournament, I will give it a shot. But as of right now, All Out!! should stay on the shelf and collect some dust for a while though.

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