hungry heart wild striker
Nippon Animation

The Eight Greatest Soccer Anime of All Time, According to a Soccer Mom

I just LOVE soccer. And so do my kids, if they know what’s good for them.

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It’s the ritual we enjoy. Every morning before school, I wake my kids up with a bullhorn and pile them into my SUV to drive them to practice. Why? Because I want them to be the BEST. By ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Even if it kills them. Even if it kills someone else. Even if they have to eat the corpses of their teammates to survive.

And that’s why I LOVE soccer anime. It’s the only thing I let my kids watch! If there’s one thing that a soccer anime protagonist knows, it’s that you have to be willing to sacrifice ANYTHING to get ahead in the sport. Being the best means that you have to be better than EVERYONE ELSE. ALL THE TIME. And that’s EXACTLY what I expect of my two children! Maybe if they had been better peewee soccer players, their father wouldn’t have walked out the door to “get some milk” and never return. Oh well, there’s no use crying over spilled milk now is there? It’s better to let someone else cry over spilled blood. That’s why I tell my kids to slide tackle with their cleats up.

Now let’s watch some anime!

8. Whistle!: Dream Team

Shō Kazamatsuri from whistle dream team
Studio Comet

Whistle!: Dream Team is a charming little underdog story about Shou Kazamatsuri, who has big dreams about being the best soccer player in the world. The Hokage of soccer players! Except he’s got a little problem: the kid blows. He’s also short, which doesn’t do him any favors on the soccer pitch. That’s why I force-feed my children to help them grow! Now the good news is, because he’s an anime protagonist, he gets better and better as the episodes go on. That’s why I make sure to tell my kids they are NOT the main character. If they want to get good at something, they have to WORK FOR IT. Now drink your raw egg protein smoothies!

7. Moero! Top Striker

Hikaru Kikkawa from Moreo Top Striker
Nippon Animation

Unlike Shou Kazamatsuri, the star of Moero! Top Striker is a true soccer prodigy. Hikaru Kikkawa is so good at soccer that he becomes an international player on the Italian team at only 13 years old! That means my oldest has only two more years to get recruited to a European league or he’s dead to me. And unlike my kid, Hikaru Kikkawa doesn’t have a loving mother to motivate him day in and day out. Both of Hikaru’s parents died in a plane crash when he was a little boy. Nevertheless, he finds success and happiness in Italy. If he can do it with no parents, then my kid has NO EXCUSE.

6. Inazuma Eleven

inazuma eleven
OLM, Inc.

Everyone knows that the only important member of a soccer team is the striker. After all, they’re the ones scoring all the goals and getting all the glory. And who do they thank for helping them excel on the field? Their coach? Don’t be silly. THEIR MOTHER. However, if I HAD to pick the second most important position on a soccer team, it would be the goalie. And that’s who Inazuma Eleven follows. Mamoru Endou is a talented goalkeeper who has to push his lackluster team of losers to new athletic heights.

5. Ginga e Kickoff!! / Victory Kickoff!!

victory kickoff!!
TYO Animations

Ginga e Kickoff!! (also known as Victory Kickoff!!) is about an industrious sixth grader who reassembles his old soccer team in order to make them the very best. And he does it with the help of a professional women’s soccer player. That’s right, a team MOM. She may not have children of her own, but you can bet your sweet bippy she’s more important in those boys’ lives than their actual mothers.

Related: The 10 Best Anime Soundtracks, Ranked on We Got This Covered

4. Aoashi

the aoashi boy's team
Production I.G.

Ashito Aoi, the lead in Aoashi, is a true soccer talent. However, he’s got a headstrong personality that sometimes lands him in trouble. He’s on his way to leading his team to glory, but his soccer dreams are dashed after he loses his temper during a match. He’s ejected from the game, and his team is lost without him. However, he’s soon picked up by a different coach who nurtures his potential. He needs to learn to listen to his mother and quietly sabotage the members of the other team when things don’t go his way. Or just fake an injury and get the other guy ejected.

3. Hungry Heart: Wild Striker

hungry heart wild striker
Nippon Animation

In Hungry Heart: Wild Striker, Kano Kyosuke is a high school soccer player who lives in the shadow of his superstar older brother. Tired of the constant comparisons to his brother, he decides to hang up his cleats for good. But all that changes when he meets the team captain of the high school girls’ team, who invigorates his passion for the sport. Thankfully, my children already have a woman in their life that motivates them. ME.

2. Captain Tsubasa

captain tsubasa dream team
KLab

This 1980s classic follows an eleven-year-old soccer star-in-the-making, who dreams of winning the World Cup for the Japanese team. Captain Tsubasa was made at the same time that both soccer AND anime were gaining popularity in Japan, and remains one of the greatest sports anime of all time. It also spawned several successful video games, if you’re into that sort of thing.

1. Blue Lock

blue lock
Eight Bit

Blue Lock is a dark exception to the sports anime rule, and that’s why it’s my favorite! Set in a dystopian future, the story takes place in an experimental training camp, where 300 teenagers are detained in prison-like conditions in order to be developed into the world’s greatest strikers. You know all those themes that sports anime loves to talk about? Camaraderie? Sportsmanship? The lack of “I” in “team”? Well, this anime takes all that hoo-ha and throws it in the garbage. These boys are trained to be RUTHLESS. They are taught to only look out for themselves and to crush their competition with extreme prejudice. If only I could send MY kids to a school like this. Or better yet, if I had to resources to OPEN a school like this. Then I could make ABSOLUTELY SURE my kids will become the greatest soccer stars in the world. And if they don’t, I could always adopt someone else in the facility.

(featured image: Nippon Animation)


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Image of Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.