The List
7 Soccer Anime to Celebrate the World Cup

by Lynzee Loveridge,

The World Cup is currently underway in Russia, and fans around the globe have been biting their nails as upset after upset showed how the underdog can pull ahead in a dramatic way. One of the biggest examples so far is Mexico's win against Germany, a first for the European country, who has never lost the opening game in defense of their trophy before. Japan also made history when the team defeated Colombia. The game marked the first time any Asian country has defeated a South American team at the World Cup.

Soccer can lead to high drama, and these kind of change-ups are what make the sport so enthralling to watch in both live-action and anime form. If you want to give the sport a chance, here's seven soccer series to get you started!

The Knight in the Area This underdog story stars two brothers, Kakeru and Suguru. Suguru is a soccer ace. He's captain of his school's team and even made it all the way to the U-15 team, Japan's national team for players under 15 years old. Suguru is a shoe-in as the star but it's actually his brother Kakeru who goes through great change as the series progresses. The series first introduces Kakeru living in Suguru's shadow and carrying guilt from a teammate-related injury. Kakeru resigns himself to managing a soccer team when he believes his skills playing right-footed aren't up to snuff. It's when his crush Nana returns that things start to change, and Kakeru must confront his fears of playing with his dominate foot.


Clean Freak! Aoyama kun This series stars another soccer ace, but it's more interested in the interpersonal relationships of the teammates than high-stakes matches. Aoyama is the aforementioned ace who has adapted his play style and interactions with others around his compulsion for cleanliness. Some of these habits are played for laughs but Aoyama kun also has a sensitive side. The show dedicates at least some of its runtime addressing his germophobia and humanizing it beyond some weird quirk.


DAYSMany sports anime detail a character's rise to stardom by discovering some latent ability to be really good at something. DAYS subverts that by picking super average kid Tsukushi as its hero. Tsukushi isn't some undiscovered soccer genius. He has decent endurance and incredible perseverance, which he honed despite being bullied before joining the soccer club. In many ways, Tsukushi is an 'everyman' for sports, showing that dedication and sheer joy for the game can make a lot of difference even when a player lacks physical prowess.


Captain Tsubasa The absolute classic! Captain Tsubasa remains an inspiration for soccer fans and even players today. As a quick example, Japanese pro soccer players starred in a bunch of videos in attempts to recreate some of the series' famous kicks. Over in Hong Kong, giant statues of the characters were erected to celebrate the 2014 World Cup. The series continues to hold a special place in the hearts of soccer fans around the world and hopefully we'll be able to legally watch this year's remake soon. Viz snapped the show up, but it's still unavailable for North American viewers.


Inazuma Eleven There's soccer and there's Inazuma Eleven. The popular franchise from Yo-kai Watch creators Level 5 follows talented goal keeper Mamoru Endō (Mark Evans in the dub) as he aims to bring his school's soccer club to victory before it's disbanded. What makes Inazuma Eleven different is the show incorporates aspects from the original game, giving characters supernatural-like abilities. Later the opposing teams graduate from skilled Earthlings to out-of-this-world aliens, in case you want a little sci-fi with your soccer.


Giant Killing A losing team only has one big shot to overcome their slump, but only under a manager the players all loathe. Takeshi Tatsumi knows soccer; he was once at the height of popularity in Japan before he traded over to England. His fans in Japan felt betrayed, and the players of East Tokyo United aren't thrilled to welcome them as their new manager. Giant Killing is about overcoming the odds (and a less than stellar rep) to make it big again.


Dragon League I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. Look at this screenshot. This is a fantasy soccer anime that ran for 39 episodes. What you see is what you get; a boy knight joins a soccer team with DINOSAURS to play against a lion man and his equally strange team of soccer stars. There were maybe two episodes of this strange ride released in English but man, dino fantasy soccer. Why didn't that take off?





The new poll: Which summer 2018 anime are you most looking forward to watching?

The old poll: Which anime character has the strangest name?

  1. Silly question, 90% of anime characters have ridiculous names.
  2. Jugem-Jugem Poop Throwing Machine Shin-chan's Day Before Yesterday Underwear Shinpachi's Life Balmunk Fezarion Isaac Schneider One Thirds Pure Feeling Two Thirds Worried-Over-A-Hangnail Feeling Though Betrayal Knows My Name Or Does It? I Know The Unknown The Cuttlefish Tastes Kind Of Different Than It Did Last Time Because It Was Caught Near The Pond And Served With Oil From A Hoofed Mammal, Pepepepepepepepepepepe Runny Diarrhea (Gintama)
  3. Kiss-Shot-Acerola-Orion-Heart-Under-Blade (Monogatari Series)
  4. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo)
  5. Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gumbigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andry Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III (Trigun)
  6. Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV (Cowboy Bebop)
  7. Jacuzzi Splot (Baccano!)
  8. Quatro Vagina (Mobile Suit Gundam Zeta)
  9. Yamagami Lucy Kimiko Akie Airi Shiori RIN-NE Yoshiho Chihoko Ayano Fumika Chitose Sanae Mikiko Ichika Yukino Reina Eri Ai Tamiko Chikage Emilia Julia Shizue Erina Chisa Yumeka Natsuki Ranran Rieko Setsuri Chikako Azumi Marina Hideko Chiaki Misaki Naomi Campbell Miku Yuka Masako Sachiko Nana Mutsumi Haruka Yuna Shimako Yukie Rin Sakura Kanna Wakana Hazuki Honami Ruri Mihane Momoka Himari Nozomi Futaba Mayuyu...(still continues) (Servant X Service)
  10. Welldone the Pussyhand (Mardock Scramble)
  11. Full Frontal (Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn)
  12. Bra (Dragon Ball Z)
  13. Scar's Fullname (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
  14. Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez (Bleach)
  15. Bluesy Fluesy (Taboo Tattoo)
  16. Bring Stability (Gundam 00)
  17. Hallelujah Haptism (Gundam 00)
  18. Millions Knives (Trigun)
  19. Pantyhose Taro (Ranma 1/2)

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

discuss this in the forum (33 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

The List homepage / archives