Hungry Heart: Wild Striker (ハングリーハート WILD STRIKER) is a Japanese soccer manga and anime series, authored by Captain Tsubasa creator Yōichi Takahashi. The anime series was produced by Nippon Animation and Animax, and premiered in Japan on Animax between September 11, 2002 and September 10, 2003, spanning a total of 52 episodes.
Hungry Heart has one of the best stories possible for a soccer anime. Our hero, Kanou Kyosuke, is a great striker but is too rough for the soccer field. Also, his brother is Japan’s top soccer superstar and plays for the Italian club, AC Milan. Tired of living in his brother’s shadow and being compared to him all the time, Kanou quits soccer for good. But one day, Miki, his classmate, blackmails him into coaching the girls soccer club for a week. As he coaches the girls, Kanou realizes he doesn’t need to give up soccer and joins the high school soccer team, hoping to play alongside his brother in the World Cup one day. And thus, begins Kanou’s journey. The story really is amazing as it is truly inspirational. Kanou, a punk, tries to become Japan’s top striker.
You might be thinking “Oh, it’s an anime… Of course he’s going to win all the matches at the last minute and fulfill his dream. This is too predictable…” Well that’s where you, and most people, go wrong with this anime. The plot has several twists and keeps you engaged through all 52 episodes. And unlike Captain Tsubasa, Kanou’s team does not win every match. In fact, they lose quite a lot. The story also brings in a bit of realism, by showing us how difficult it really is to pursue a career in soccer. . Also, you realize how a player’s personal life affects his performance on the field. The importance of team work is also emphasized on constantly. As I said before, the inner meaning of the anime has more than meets the eye.
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