Giant Killing follows the ups and downs of the fictional soccer team ETU (East Tokyo United), which is very much down on its luck. As the series opens they've lost their last five matches, after a long period of shoddy performances, and are languishing at the bottom of their league. Their fans have nigh on abandoned them and even the kids in their own youth academy think they suck. They are without a sponsor and are currently scraping along on money from the local municipality - clear signs that they could fold if things don't change soon. In fact they haven't done really well since the days of their star player, Takeshi Tatsumi.
Things may be about to change though, for Takeshi Tatsumi has returned to manage ETU after a stint in England where he managed to direct an amateur village team all the way to The FA Cup's fourth round. However his return brings resistance from fans and teammates alike, many of whom have never forgiven him for leaving to go abroad in the first place, especially as he was the playmaker, so they blame things going foul after his departure on him. On his return he decides to bump several key players off the starting eleven - including local hero, team captain Shigeyuki Murakoshi, the only man that has kept the team from completely falling into disaster - based on their performance during time trials alone. Suffice to say Tatsumi has his work cut out for him.
Originating as a manga by Masaya Tsunamoto, Giant Killing was later animated by Studio DEEN. The anime was available on Crunchyroll, with an HD version available to subscribers an hour after broadcast, and an SD version to non-subscribers a week after.
This series provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The opening scene of the Anime has a short conversation between a fan and the two members of the ETU staff sent to find Tatsumi detailing what he has accomplished with the Eastham side. In the manga the conversation actually moves from the street to the three having dinner together and the old fan turns out to be the Eastham Chairman.
- Broken Base: In-Universe, not fans of the show, but the in series fans of ETU. Some are delighted to see Tatsumi return. Others consider it a slap in the face.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Takeshi as the coach of ETU. His actions and demeanour on a regular basis confuse and irritate those around him. However, he does know what he's doing as a coach — it just takes a while for the team to understand his intentions.
- But Not Too Foreign: Luigi "Gino" Yoshida is half Japanese, half Italian.
- Butt-Monkey: Blanc's male assistant isn't given much, if any positive screen time. It is spent being thrown by Blanc's off-tangent comments, being corrected on Osaka's dominance in the match and being upstaged by his female counterpart.
- Character Development: A subtle version that has more to do with Tatsumi's backstory. During the first game against Nagoya Grand Palace, Matsubara is amazed at the amount of homework Tatsumi did to concoct his tactics for the match. He compares it to Tatsumi's playing days in which, as he said it, "he played according to his instincts".
- Conspicuous CG: Close ups of the ball in flight and especially flags in wide crowd shots are very obviously not cel drawings.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
- Natsuki. A great player, but one hell of an idiot.
- To a lesser extent, Montebia Yamagata's coach. His players joke around with him and he is a bit airheaded but there is a reason they promoted from Division 2.
- Defeating the Undefeatable: Osaka is the subject of this trope and for good reason, with its incredible attacking power and multiple national players. Prior to ETU's match, Osaka are shown putting 8 away against another team. ETU grab a last-minute goal to steal the win in their home game, although Osaka are leading the league overall by the halfway mark.
- The FA Cup: Shows up in the first episode.
- Fictional Counterpart: Each of the teams in the J. League has one here. ETU themselves seem to be an Expy of Tokyo Verdy, who once were among the top teams in Japan, but have since fallen out of that position and have been on hard times during the last decade (the difference being that ETU had consistently managed to scrape by without being relegated - notwithstanding the four years during the backstory when they were relegated - while Verdy was first relegated to Division 2 in 2005 and have only been promoted again once in 2007, only to be relegated again the following year, and the year after, NTV, which sponsored the team since the days of the Japan Soccer League as Yomiuri, withdrew their partnership, threatening Verdy with being barred from playing the 2010 season if they could not find a sponsor).
- Game-Breaking Injury: Hinted to be the cause of Tatsumi's retirement as a player.
- Giant Killing: Well, the trope is the name of the title; in this case it's more team size and backing than physical size.
- Guile Hero: Tatsumi.
- Hero Worship: Montebia Yamagata's coach has great respect for Tatsumi and is thrilled to be able to coach against and alongside him.
- Hot-Blooded: Tatsumi at least a little. He is voiced by Tomokazu Seki after all. However a lot of the time he comes across as laid back.
- The Lancer: Murakoshi at least starts out that way having been in the squad at the same time as Tatsumi and, as the current captain, he is not pleased with Tatsumi's return. Then Tatsumi announces he's being stripped of the captaincy in the second episode. Though it's a 10-Minute Retirement as he regains the captain's armband at the end of Episode 5.
- The Nicknamer: Luigi Yoshida a.k.a. "Gino" a.k.a. "The Prince" does this to himself as well as everyone he meets.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hata delivers a scathing one to Tanuma and his friends, in which he claims that they gave up on the team and only started coming back to matches because of Tatsumi or personal gratification, whereas Hata and the younger supporters stuck with the team despite its difficult seasons.
- Save Our Team: ETU is on the brink of oblivion before Tatsumi's appointment, due to financial woes, the municipality giving up its sponsorship, and attendances plummeting following many heartbreaking seasons. Tatsumi's task is, therefore, not only to light a fire under the players' backsides and get them performing, but also to reconcile the club with its supporters and potential beneficiaries.
- The Scapegoat: Tatsumi to a point. His personal manager/advisor convinced him to leave because he thought the team was relying on him too much and becoming weak as a result. It was still Tatsumi's decision and the team did temporarily fall apart as predicted.
- Sequel Hook: Anime-exclusive. There are a few threads left hanging, the over arching one being that the first series ends no more than half way into the season. A more explicit one is the statement that they have to play away to Osaka Gunners which is made after the match at E.T.U's ground. However no second series has been announced so it may actually be And the Adventure Continues.
- Smug Snake: Fuwa, ETU's former coach and Nagoya's current one. He treats Tatsumi and his former employers with condescension and believes his team to be superior in every way. Except he loses their first match and the one the anime shows. It also became ETU's first win of the season. Also, regarding his evaluation of Nagoya as being much superior to ETU, the manga reveals that at the halfway point, his team is 7th, and ETU is 10th but only two points behind.
- Surprisingly Good English and French and Portuguese and Dutch: For instance the Japanese National coach is French and is seen speaking in French to his assistant but speaks English to Tatsumi as they both coached in England. The Nagoya team has 3 Brazilians who speak to each other in Portuguese, and Osaka's coach Dulfer, forward Hauer and Sonada their interpreter all speak Dutch.
- Talking Is a Free Action: The players seem to be able to have quite in depth conversations and long internal monologues during matches without it causing a problem most of the time.
- During the ETU vs. Nagoya Gran Palace match, it's at least addressed. While Zelberto and Carlos are discussing the problems ETU are causing their play style, their team mates yell at them to get their attention back on the action.
- Team Spirit: It is very low at the start of the anime, and this funk is probably the biggest hurdle that ETU needs to overcome.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
- ETU has Gino and Natsuki, and to a lesser extent Akasaki and Kiyokawa and Ishihama. In the first case, Natsuki is intimidated by Gino and relies on him to provide passes. Gino is disdainful towards him, especially because he considers Natsuki to be reckless and uncommitted. In the second case, Akasaki is always ready to criticise Kiyokawa and Ishihama's defensive work but admits that they only need to hold opposition back so that their team-mates can help.
- Osaka Gunners have three of the four forwards: Hauer, Hatake and Katayama. The latter two are Glory Hounds, always competing against each other for goals. Hauer, thanks to the language barrier, doesn't understand a word they're saying and is often harassed by them, especially with regards to his hair.
- Title Drop: Happens for the first time of many within the first 2 minutes of Episode 1 before the titles have even been shown.
- Took a Level in Badass: This is an element of the on-field goals for ETU and it takes ages for anything to emerge. The first matches against Nagoya and Osaka provide glimpses of what the team can accomplish, and the second half of the season (as shown in the manga) shows the team taking that ball and finally running with it.
- Underdogs Never Lose: Subverted. The amateur team that Tatsumi took to the FA Cup didn't win. They did do very well for a team of non professionals though, leading 3-2 at one point in the game even though they eventually lost to Portsmouth. Also in their pre-season friendly against the powerhouse team Tokyo Victory, ETU manages to scrape a draw — still fairly impressive. Even into the second half of the Anime, ETU loses almost every other game, the rest are mostly draws.