We discuss the Top 10 Best Soccer Anime Shows of All Time. Keep this list handy if you want anime and soccer together.
Sports is a huge sub-genre in the anime world, and within this subcategory, soccer is one of the more prominent narrative choices. It is, after all, one of the most popular sports in Japan, alongside basketball, baseball, sumo wrestling, and martial arts. Japan has its own Football Association and professional football leagues, with the J.League being one of the most successful leagues in the whole of Asia. This love of the game and passion for the sport has worked its way into Japan’s anime shows too, with many fine soccer anime series out there to enjoy. Here is a list of the top ten best soccer anime shows of all time, using stats from IMDb to finalize the results.
Top 10 Best Soccer Anime Shows of All Time
10. Ganbare! Kikkazu (1986 – 1988)
Ganbare! Kikkazu (also known as Ganbare, Kickers!) was an animated comedy series that ran in the late eighties via Studio Pierrot. The series ran for 26 episodes, telling the story of Kakeru Daichi, a young striker who helps out a struggling football team at the local elementary school after his family moves into the area. It’s a true underdog story, with touches of comedy and romance thrown into the mix. The whole series can be found on YouTube.
IMDB score: 7.4/10
9. Giant Killing (2010)
Based on the Japanese manga series of the same name, Giant Killing centers on the professional football team East Tokyo United, who are struggling in Japan’s top football league. They hire an eccentric manager in the hopes of returning the club to its former glory. It’s another underdog story fitted with a catchy theme tune and blistering examples of excellent animation. The series was produced by Studio Deen, but only lasted for the one season.
IMDB score: 7.6/10
8. Whistle!: Dream Team (2002 – 2003)
Whistle!: Dream Team focuses on Shou Kazamatsuri, an amateur football player who dreams of being one of the best in the game, unfortunately, he isn’t very good at the sport and he worries about his height as well. Seems like another underdog story to add to the list, I see a trend appearing. This action-packed anime series is based on the manga series created by Daisuke Higuchi. A motivational show that ran for 39 episodes, receiving much praise at the time of its release.
IMDB score: 7.7/10
7. Moero! Top Striker (1992 – 1993)
Moero! Top Striker was an animated series that aired on TV Tokyo back in the early nineties. The show told the story of Hikaru Kikkawa, a thirteen-year-old Japanese football prodigy, who plays soccer as an international student in Genoa, Italy. The student has suffered a rather tragic upbringing, losing both of his parents in a plane crash, but he finds love and success in Italy. The series is currently available on YouTube with English subtitles.
IMDB score: 7.8/10
6. Inazuma Eleven (2008 – 2011)
Most soccer storylines focus on the striker, the one that scores all the goals and takes all of the glory, but another key player in the team is the goalkeeper. Inazuma Eleven distinguishes itself from the rest, by looking at the one stopping the goals, instead of just the one scoring all the goals. Mamoru Endou is the talented goalkeeper in this series, who must improve his team’s lackluster performances and take them to new heights. The series ran for three seasons, with over one hundred episodes under its belt.
IMDB score: 8/10
5. Ginga e Kickoff (2012 – 2013)
Ginga e Kickoff (also known as Victory Kickoff!!) was an anime series produced by TYO Animations that ran for 39 episodes in the early 2010s. The series told the story of sixth grader Shou Oota (shooter?), who tries to reassemble his old football team and lead them to victory with the help of a female professional football player. This show was labeled as a hidden gem in the genre, with only a handful of people voting this series into the top ten.
IMDB score: 8/10
4. Aoashi (2022 – present)
One of the more recent shows on the list, Aoashi was released in 2022 on NHK Educational TV. The first season debuted with 24 installments. The series follows the protagonist, Ashito Aoi, a talented soccer player, who makes a huge mistake during an important match that may possibly ruin his entire career. He’s a promising player, but his personality sometimes gets in the way, landing him in trouble. This has been heralded as one of the best current sports shows out there.
IMDB score: 8.1/10
3. Hungry Heart: Wild Striker (2002 – 2003)
Broadcast on Animax from September 2002 to September 2003, across 52 episodes, Hungry Heart: Wild Striker tells the story of Kano Kyosuke. This high school student lives in the shadow of his older brother (Kano Seisuke), who is a professional football player, signed with A.C. Milan. Kyosuke is always compared with his brother and quickly loses interest in the sport, however, one woman may change all that and reinvigorate his passion for soccer once again. It’s an uplifting story produced by Nippon Animation.
IMDB score: 8.1/10
2. Captain Tsubasa (1983 – 2018)
By the mid-eighties, both anime and soccer were hitting the mainstream in Japan, which goes some way to explaining the meteoric success of Captain Tsubasa. The series, which originally broadcast on TV Tokyo back in the eighties, ran for countless seasons, with multiple spin-offs, whilst also spawning many movie and video game tie-ins. The show followed Tsubasa Oozora, an eleven-year-old football fanatic, who dreams of one day winning the World Cup with Japan. The original run is seen as a classic in the genre, whilst the latest adaptation has received the best IMDB score so far. If you enjoyed the original or the latest version, you may also want to check out: Captain Tsubasa J, Captain Tsubasa: Road to 2002, and New Captain Tsubasa.
IMDB score: 8.2/10
1. Blue Lock (2022 – present)
This anime adaptation feels like no other out there, bringing a twisted and dystopian tone to the sports genre. Blue Lock centers on a controversial training camp, where 300 teens are held in a prison-like facility and are put through their paces to become the world’s greatest forwards. The players are trained to become selfish and egotistical, forgetting any notion of sportsmanship or team camaraderie. It’s a refreshing and totally unique show in a crowded genre.
IMDB score: 8.4/10
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