An interviewer congratulates an athlete on leading her team to victory. Out of breath and visibly shaken, Nomi-san expresses her great relief at the win, knowing it means that she and her teammates have just saved women’s soccer in Japan. With this, the stakes and conditions are established: women’s soccer is eternally on the cusp of defunding and dismissal by investors and the public alike, but its players and fans are passionate. These two themes thread through the remainder of the episode as we meet a lively collection of graduating middle schoolers preparing to enter the world of high school girls’ soccer. There’s Non-chan, who has until now always played with the boys’ team in order to improve her skill level; white-haired loner Suo, who has suffered with teammates who blame her for being better than them; outspoken twin-tailed Soshizaki (voiced by Yuuki Aoi), who is third in the national rankings for her age group; and a range of other unique personalities among the freshers at Warabi Seinan and the senpais at rival Urawa Hosei high school. And let’s not forget the apathetic coach, who gives off strong Tom Hanks à la A League of Their Own vibes, only minus the alcoholism (so far). During their first practice, these freshers who are so used to playing their own game, begin to work together and experience what it is like to play with teammates who have your back. They have a very long way to go, since, apart from three or four of them, the rest seem to be newbies with little to no experience. But they have determination and a love of the game on their side—and soon, according to the bonus scene after the ED, they will also have Nomi-san herself, as she returns to her alma mater to train up the next generation of soccer stars.
This show is so nostalgic for me on two counts: I too was once a middle-schooler who played on the boys’ soccer team and obsessed over the Canadian women’s national soccer team; but also—and likely more relatable for you, dear reader—the art style and themes are strongly reminiscent of beloved series Chihayafuru—aka everyone’s introduction to karuta. Or, art-wise, My Love Story, with its moments of over-the-top humour and gag-style chibi art, and Your Lie in April, with whom the Farewell, My Dear Cramer manga shares an author. And on the thematic front, it also brings to mind Sound! Euphonium, as high school girls grapple with the impetus to achieve great things individually, to be special (as Kousaka Reina would say), yet also share that journey and effort with a team. The girls we’ve met so far are both rivals and collaborators—a fine line of tension that many of us walk in our own lives and careers. Each brings to the mix her own difficult past experiences and teenaged idealism (there is something unequal to the dreams dreamt as a high schooler, no?), and it is clear that their journey to become a team worthy of taking on the Urawa Hosei titans will involve a great deal of personal growth and maturation in addition to all the tough training Nomi-san will put them through. In all, Farewell, My Dear Cramer promises to be a delightful homage to the beautiful game and the millions of girls and young women whose lives have been enriched by it. I for one will be prepping my popcorn and sports drink for a weekly installment of footy fun!
Suo’s reaction to learning of her one-sided rival Soshizuki’s ranking on the national level. Deep breaths. Deeeeep breaths…
Farewell, My Dear Cramer is available to stream on Crunchyroll.