Captain Tsubasa might be the world’s most famous fictional footballer. This Japanese manga is loved around the world, although not always known by the same name. In Latin America, it’s known as Supercampeones. In Spain, it’s Oliver y Benji. In the USA, it’s Flash Kicker. In France, Olive et Tom, and in Italy, Holly e Benji. (Quite why they have to keep remaining characters, I’m not sure.)
It tells the story of a Japanese football prodigy named Tsubasa Ozora (known in different countries as Oliver Atom, Oliver Tsubasa, Majed, Andy Dai Zhiwei.. you get the point) and has been adapted into different anime and video games. It started in the 80s but its enduring popularity (even among professional footballers) has led to new issues of the manga, as well as more TV shows and more games being released up to this day.
You may know all this, but did you know Tsubasa joined FC Barcelona in the manga and show? We’re going to take a break from real football and watch some anime and relive the story...
Episode 37 - Hyuga’s Challenge for the Future
Watch in Japanese with English subtitles:
Watch in Spanish:
It starts with a journalist talking to some football bigwig about how the Japanese youth team players are going to Europe. Kojiro Hyuga is there, taking questions, as he’s about to join Juventus. Meanwhile, Tsubasa and Genzo are with Barcelona and Hamburger SV, respectively.
The bigwig is Munemasa Katagiri, a scout and assistant coach for the Japanese national team. The journalist says he must be excited about the Japanese kids making big moves and he kinda just brushes it off, saying the football association will make decisions as a whole.
Hyuga boards the plane towards Italy and reminisces about his family. It then cuts two to barkeeps reading the paper, in which a frankly racist one is shocked to see that an Asian player is joining Juventus and predicts he will fail. The other one says he might surprise people.
Hyuga arrives at Juventus’s stadium and admires the trophies. He is praised for being the first Japanese player to join the Italian club. I don’t think one has joined in real life to this day. Hyuga goes into the dressing room and notices the big names on the lockers, like Baseggio, who I guess is Roberto Baggio. He played a few years for Juve in the 90s.
Hyuga walks to the training ground and challenges one of the players, Davi (also known as Willem, based on Edgar Davids, who played 7 years for Juventus and had a successful loan spell at Barcelona).
During training, Davi winds Hyuga up and blocks one of his chances on goal. Hyuga is having a hard time keeping up with Davi, and Davi keeps taunting him. Eventually Davi fouls Hyuga by pulling him back. The Japanese player protests but Davi says if he is not tough he won’t survive in Europe. Hyuga gets up and punches Davi in the face, and Davi answers back with his own punch. The press takes photographs of the fight, and the non-racist barkeep the next day says it shows Hyuga’s fighting spirit. In real life this would be quite the meltdown to have a new young player come in and punch a first-team star in the face, but I guess it’s taken more lightly on this show.
Two bigwigs are talking on the phone about a friendly between Japan and the Netherlands, and the news spreads to two Barcelona players in the locker room, which Tsubasa overhears. He tells the Barcelona players Japan will be ready and comments on the Hyuga-Davi fight, saying Hyuga never backs down.
They show more of that fight now (the timeline on the show is always kinda weird) and Davi is being a complete bully and putting down Japanese players in general for some reason. He says the FIFA World Cup is soon but Japan will only play in it because they are hosts, considering they have a poor level.
Tsubasa assures the Barcelona staff that he’s ready for the friendly to prove his level, and that he’s adopting well to life in Barcelona. The episode ends with the cliffhanger of the Hyuga-Davi fight fallout and the upcoming friendly.
This episode is very Hyuga-heavy, which is great for fans of the character since he has been somewhat out of the picture for a bit. It shows his character well, too: determined, confident, and short-tempered, although primarily with good motivations: helping his family.
Davi is an extremely villainous character and you can understand why his name was changed from the manga. His trademark goggles were also dropped, probably to distance the character more from Davids. Davids may have been a tough player, but I doubt he would have been quite as nasty a bully, or as borderline racist as the character was in this episode. Just like the Barcelona defenders of the last episode, he is used as a foil for the young Japanese player breaking through.
Things are starting to turn on the show, we are still in pre-season I guess, but going back to an actual game soon sounds fun.