LJ Milan is a fan of movies since he was a kid. He loves them all, no matter the genre. Sometimes he just won't shut up about them.
Sports anime have always been inspirational. They have that "something" we yearn for. Whether it's overcoming insurmountable odds or lovable underdog, it doesn't really matter. So much so, that it doesn't matter from which era the anime comes, or what kind of animation is. They have a story that can make you overlook all the problems we usually see or find if we are particularly picky.
My favorite sport is soccer, or as we Europeans call it football. So, in anime turns it translates that my favorite are soccer anime. Don't get me wrong, I love to watch anime of any sport. I watched many of them, like Yawamushi Pedal, ever-popular Haikyuu, Kuroko no basket, or my second favorite sport baseball and Ace no diamond. Although, I must be honest and say, I really don't have a clue about all the rules in baseball. But, I digress.
So, I compiled a list of my favorite soccer anime for everyone that might want to try them. It's worth noting that all of them under 60 episodes, so they are not especially long watch.
1. Whistle (2002)
No. of episodes: 39
This anime brings us the story of a middle schooler Kazamatsuri Sho. He is a small guy, who loves soccer with all his heart. He even transferred to a new school, just so he could play it. In the beginning, he's not particularly good at it. But with hard training, he becomes better. All the while fighting his small stature.
I love this anime because of Sho's unyielding spirit, and willingness to get better at soccer. His character will draw you in this anime, and that is something you rarely see. No matter how hard things get, he doesn't give up. He trains even harder to achieve his goals.
I've watched a lot of sports anime, but I didn't find a character like his. He has that special power that every team needs.
This anime is a fantastic story about growing up and overcoming insurmountable odds. If you like stories where the main character isn't good from the beginning, than this anime is for you.
2. Area no kishi (2012)
No. of episodes: 37
This anime is a story of a high schooler Aizawa Kakeru, a born striker. After he broke the leg of his friend with his shot, he dropped soccer all together. That trauma changed him, but he still trains by himself. After a tragic accident and with help from his childhood friends he starts playing again.
This underrated anime is simply fantastic. So much so, that I haven't got a clue how this anime wasn't more popular. Especially since it's shounen anime to the core. But, that's life.
I love this anime so much, I watched it three times so far, and every time it leaves me in tears. Although, at times tragic, this anime is really funny. It balances the two in superb way. It really is a shame we didn't get the second season. But, it does have a satisfying end.
3. Hungry Heart: Wild Striker (2002)
No. of episodes: 52
This anime brings us the story of Kano Kyoske. A high schooler who is delinquent and slightly stupid. His brother is a famous football star that plays for AC Milan. He stopped playing football when he had a fight during a game in middle school. But after a prolonged pestering by the soccer team manager, named Kazuto Mori, he joins the team.
This anime is lighthearted, it's a beautiful story about sibling love. I laughed throughout this show. It certainly helps that main character has affinity only for soccer. Even the side characters are well nuanced and developed. It's pretty much the whole package. It will leave you wanting for more.
4. Captain Tsubasa: Road to 2002
No. of episodes: 52
This anime brings us the story of Oozora Tsubasa. A wunderkind of epic proportions. We follow his tail from middle school to professional player. We follow as he makes friends, and meets rivals that will make him a better player and fulfill his potential.
This is God only knows which animation of ultra-popular manga about Captain Tsubasa. So, if you don't want to watch 200 plus episodes, here you can watch 52, and still not miss anything crucial.
This anime was made especially for 2002 World Cup which was held in Japan and South Korea. I prefer this anime over the others because it's much more fast-paced. It doesn't skip a single beat and has you hooked from the beginning to the end.
5. Giant Killing (2010)
No. of episodes: 26
This anime brings us the story of ETU or East Tokyo United. A football club that has fallen on hard times. They barely avoided relegation the previous season, and are at the end of the rope. So, the general manager gets an idea to bring back the former star Tatsumi Takeshi as a couch. After finishing his career in England he started managing a semi-professional team. And makes them the sensation when he reaches semi-finals of FA Cup with them.
I love this anime because it's solely about professional soccer and league. It depicts the professional soccer to the core, from team cohesion all the way to fans. Characters are eccentric and lovable, starting with the coach himself.
This is an awesome story of restoring the once big club to its former glory. A story of David Vs Goliath that will leave you breathless. Too bad we never did get the second season.
© 2020 LJ Milan