Ole Golazo 001 – Review
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: Banba was a Tae Kwon Do Junior Champion before he found himself band for three years due to a particularly violent incident. Now he’s entering high school and needs to figure out what to do with himself. As Banba tries to become the study king, and enjoy his free time after school without any clubs to get in his way he meets Makoto, the cutest girl in school, who also happens to help coach the school’s soccer club. After a misunderstanding, Makoto gets the idea that Banba used to be a champion soccer player. Just how bad is this misunderstanding going to play out?
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
Ole Golazo opens with a sort of introduction to the term, Ole Golazo, although leaves the actual definition for later. For anyone unfamiliar with the word, as I was, it’s a nothing moment. These first pages are completely lost on me and really could be thrown away. We’re then introduced to our lead, Banba, a former Tae Kwon Do Junior Champion who’s just entering high school. Apparently he’s been banned from Tae Kwon Do and needs to find a new passion for his three years in high school. He’s sat next to the cutest girl in the school, one Makoto Hanamori, only making every other guy jealous of him. Banba is an interesting lead. Unlike say, Asta, Naruto, or other resent Shonen heroes, Banba doesn’t feel unsure of himself. Rather, the exact opposite. He’s exuding confidence to the point where he’s actively cocky if not outright full of himself. He doesn’t see himself one day attaining greatness, but rather is already great. Thankfully this is mostly played for laughs and despite Banba’s incredible physical skill, things don’t always go his way, making him an enjoyable character.
Banba decides to refocus becoming number one of studies, although the teacher doesn’t appreciate his bizarrely fervent efforts in singing the A, B, Cs. Golazo’s comedy is a bit uneven. Sometimes a tad too odd to really strike a cord and at other times exactly what it needs to be. Later, Banba is considering joining clubs for the year and overhears everyone talking about Soccer, a sport he’s written off as being for weaklings and womanizers, mainly based on hearing that kind of talk around his classroom. Makoto then surprises him by asking him what club he’d like to join. Banba, as we discover, is bad at talking to girls. It seems like a throw away moment, but is actually set up for what’s to come in just a moment.
Banba decides to forego joining any clubs and instead enjoy his free time, bowling, arcade, and karoaoke, all by himself. It’s fun until he passes by other students out on a run, training. He’s forced to think back to his old Tae Kwon Do team, they’re effort, failure, and subsequent mocking. He stuck up for his team and went on a rampage against the jerks who mocked his friends, ultimately what got him expelled from Tae Kwon Do for three years. It helps to humanize Banba a bit, and add a softer side. It’s not terribly original, and paints him with a similar brush as near every other upstanding shonen lead, but it’s hard to hate characters like this even if they’re a dime a dozen.
Yanking him from his thoughts is Makoto again, who’s apparently the coach for the soccer trainees that just passed by. Makoto reveals she’s had her eye on him as she thinks he’s built for kicking. Banba, a bit full of himself and not thinking, admits he was the National Champ, although forgets to qualify it as Tae Kwon Do champ. This is where the set up earlier of him having issues talking to women helps, although the portrayal between the two scenes makes it difficult to really connect the two as well as perhaps they should be. Makoto mistakenly thinks he’s talking soccer. She convinces him to join the soccer club and later Banba realizes the confusion, wondering if he should come clean. But he’s worried everyone will just think him a liar. Instead he decides to fudge it, as he’s sure soccer will come easy to him. He is awesome after all.
However when he gets to the field the next day for a practice match it becomes painfully clear he has no idea how to play Soccer! He doesn’t understand any of the terminology, or strategy. When the ball comes to him he gives it a crazy hard kick that sends it flying away, through the sky, and down elsewhere obliterating a college dude’s car. Makoto and everyone starts to piece together that Banba isn’t any kind of actual soccer champ. This is probably the best part of the chapter. Banba’s interpretation of Soccer terminology is hilarious and while over the top, the super kick scene is pretty amusing.
Banba begins to freak, realizing everyone knows him as a liar and that’ll extend through his college life, to then his work life and maybe even cost him jobs! As Makoto looks up some stuff on her phone the other coach, Asahina, notes how good the other first years are. Makoto then discovers the truth about Banba, that he is a Japanese Representative Champion, not of Soccer, but rather Tae Kwon Do.
Back on the field Banba rushes into action, going for a goal, breaking through all the opposing team’s defenses. He figures if he just focuses on kicking, just kicking, then he’s still the best. He breaks through and as he does the manga explains that when a player ignores the carefully laid out opposing defense, the crowd screams out “Golazo” or “Super Goal”. Well, now the title makes sense. Banba kicks the ball and scores a surprise upset goal garnering the praise and cheers of the crowd and his team. In that moment he realizes the incredible power of the game.
Overall I think this is a solid opening chapter. It’s funny, it’s a tad emotional, and really sets up Banba as an amusing character. That said, I do worry how well the series can stand on its own two legs. As Banba learns soccer his misunderstandings will gradually fall away and I fear Ole Golazo will quickly dissolve into a generic shonen sports soccer manga. That said, if it can maintain what it did with this chapter, Ole Golazo has the potential to be a decent addition to the Shonen Jump line up. And it has a place waiting for it, as it’s been ages since Shonen Jump U.S. actually had an honest to god sports manga.
That’s it for today. Please let me know what you thought of Ole Golazo’s first chapter in the comments below!
Ole Golazo can be found in Shonen Jump and is available to read for free at Viz.com.