number24 – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Natsusa Yuzuki was expecting to be the ace on his college rugby team but due to unexpected circumstances, had to sit out. Six months later, he’s back. Along with his best friend Seiichiro, prodigy senior Ibuki Ueoka and a few others – they’re going to represent the Kansai University team. He may still be figuring out life but he’s got some new brothers to help him. Time to join the scrum! (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: number24 seems to be taking some queues from Run with the Wind of last year, telling a story about college Rugby boys struggling with personal drama not exclusively related to the sport. The series kicks off with Yuzuki suffering a career ending injury, forcing him to participate in his beloved sport from the sidelines. It sounds like the start to an emotionally weighty, dramatic series, but so far number24 doesn’t look like it’ll wallow in much of any drama. After that dramatic opening we pull back to a more easy-going, lowkey comedic tone as Yuzuki rejoins his teammates now as their manager. What follows is then a parade of introductions for characters, a bit of light drama concerning another, new member of the team, and a brief tease as to the story surrounding Yuzuki’s former teammate, who caused his career ending injury in the first place. Besides teasing the possibility for deeper dramatic potential, the honest truth is that this first episode is exceedingly dull.
Linny: number 24 feels like a leftover from the push for rugby themed anime thanks to the 2019 Rugby World Cup being held in Japan. The rugby players are (almost) all buff, sporting six packs in a clear attempt to visually woo viewers and most of them unsurprisingly display the barest of personality. It doesn’t exactly help matters that the only overweight player on the team is introduced as extremely sweaty and smelly. Throw in an edgy team member grunting out lines about hating their own name and you’ve got a weird mishmash of cast members that’ll leave most confused or disengaged. Natsusa Yuzuki being the main character gets the most screen time and personality but seeing as he is the main character, this feels like the show pulling off the bare and basic minimum rather than a true plus worth mentioning.
Tom: One of the underlying flaws here is the series desire to parade the entire cast out in this first episode alone. There’s simply too many boys for any one person to remember, unless the point is to say “hey, you like hot boys? We got ’em!” Because we spend so much time parading through these characters, using up vital minutes giving them a line or two to try, ever so half-heartedly, and establish their personality, we end up with an episode that just doesn’t work as an engaging start. I suspect this is how the series will move forward, trying to give each pretty boy their moment to shine, but lacking anywhere near enough episodes to do so. Still, there’s potential, and far far worse offerings this season, making number24 a modest filler option, assuming you’re just dying for a sports anime (although they honestly don’t play a lot of Rugby at all.)
Linny: number24 clearly has a heavy dose of drama given that it opens with the accident that causes our lead to go from rising breakout star to unable to play the sport at all. And it’s not just him. From the edgy player who hates their name to a rookie who is ashamed and frustrated by his lack of abilities, this episode is chock full of opportunities for the series to go hard in on drama. If I were to give the series any praise, it would be that it is a rare sports show that seems to be trying to approach the sport from an ex-player turned team manager’s POV and that’s definitely unique. But nothing about the actual content feels all that unique, so it seems number24 is doomed to a minor fan base at best.
number24 is available for streaming via Funimation.