When writing up my season preview, I read the first few chapters of the manga and found it rather good. Then I watched the first three episodes of the anime, and realized that I was horribly mistaken.
The biggest problem is that the series is horribly rushed. This is much more noticeable in the anime; I had figured that what I read of the manga would be at least the first three episodes, but it was barely an episode and a half. In retrospect, though, everything would still be too sudden even if they did take twice as long to show it. By the end of the second episode they’d killed off a main character, and it’s a rare series that can make you care when someone dies after two episodes of screen time. This is not one of those shows.
In addition to the plot careening past like a spaceship falling from the sky, the breakneck pace of the show means that none of the characters get adequate development. All we know about their feelings, backstories, and motivations is what we get during the frequent moments of exposition that are there to replace subtlety, since subtlety takes time. In short, pretty much everything about the show violates the creative maxim of “show, don’t tell.”
There are any number of lesser flaws scattered throughout the show. The artists must have had some absurd degree of trouble drawing moving soccer balls; whenever there’s anything more complicated than a close up of a ball sitting on the ground, the balls are replaced with astoundingly bad CG ones, the only CG in the entire anime And if the female lead—the only girl in the show who isn’t directly related to the protagonist—actually had enough characterization to get a personality, she would be one of the more egregious examples of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. In a way, the fact that the creators didn’t try to make the series any better prevented it from being worse. Fun times.