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 42 - Restart to the World
Watch in Japanese with English subtitles:
Watch in Spanish:
The episode begins wth a quick recap of what happened in the last episode: Japan got a last-minute equalizer against the Netherlands, with Hyuga assisting Shingo with a diving header. The match ended, and we are in the locker room post-match.
The guys feel a bit beat up about it because they feel they were outclassed, despite having a decent result against the Netherlands. The manager tells them they need to use the experience to grow, because in their hearts they know they were second-best.
The guys say they’re going to get better with their respective clubs. Shingo says he wants to break through to the first team at Inter Milan, and hopefully make the World Cup squad. I bet he will.
Tsubasa talks with his old friend Manabu, and they talk about him going to Hawaii to train. A doctor will help him get stronger so he can reach higher levels.
Meanwhile, Hyuga tells Juventus he wants a few days to train before he returns to Italy. He says he needs to get stronger if he wants to play in the Italian league. For whatever reason, he says he can’t do that in Italy.
Tsubasa and a few of the guys are in Hawaii with the doctor, while Hyuga goes to see Kozo Kira, the former coach of Japan’s youth team. He tells the coach he wants him to make him better. Kira tells him to forget past challenges and keep his mind fresh.
Manabu reveals that Tsubasa is truly two-footed and that allows him great balance, which obviously makes him a great player. The captain keeps training, trying to develop muscle.
Genzo is back in Germany but is stopped on the street by Karl-Heinz Schneider, who is probably inspired by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, a German star. He asks him to join his club, Rotburg. Rotburg is a Berlin-based club, but is actually Bayern Munich in the manga.
Genzo turns Schneider down, saying he is loyal to Hamburger SV. The German says his loyalty is admirable, but he won’t be able to progress. Schneider is confident, saying his team will win the Bundesliga, but his taunts are playful.
Back to Hyuga, who is training with a tennis ball on a mountain near a waterfall. Very zen. He keeps seeing the reflection of the Dutch team in the water, but keeps trying to focus on kicking the tennis ball. Eventually, he is able to follow Coach Kira’s advice and keep his mind clear. He strikes the ball with thundering power. With this newfound ability, Hyuga flies back to Italy.
The doctor marvels at Tsubasa’s progress, who says with his newfound strength he will be able to stand up to European defenders. Him and Sanae share a romantic sunset on the beach, and she cheers for him for old time’s sake. And the episode ends with the guys looking to take on Europe.
Next up? Probably more training. Like a lot of shows of this type, Captain Tsubasa spends a lot of time focused on training and improving. In a lot of ways, it’s the typical formula of other anime shows like Dragon Ball Z. It’s a good lesson for young kids, and from what I understand, a very typical format of stories in Japanese culture.
The downside is it can feel a little drawn out - after so many episodes, we really only saw one match, and who knows when we’ll see the next. But if you find the day-to-day stuff interesting, I think you’ll like this show.