Now That the World Cup Is Over, Watch This Anime!July 11, 2010
Hungry Heart Wild Striker Review
Soccer is one of the most played sports around the world. It’s only natural that a soccer anime would exist. But in a world of Captain Tsubasas and Whistles , it seems that several anime fly under the radar like the anime I’ll be reviewing today, Hungry Heart Wild Striker. A very male-oriented shonen anime with a strange name.
HHWS stars Kano Kyosuke, a teenager soccer player who transfers to Jyoyo Orange high school (they’re always transfer students). Kyosuke’s passion for soccer begins to dwindle due to always being compared to his professional soccer player brother, Kano Seisuke. Eventually Kyosuke is pressured into being the girls’ soccer team coach and playing on the boys’ soccer team by the team manager, Mori. He is joined by three foreign cocky freshmen, Brazilian Rodrigo del Franco and Swedish Sakai Jefferson. The three try to play a game against the seniors of the high school in an attempt to take the positions of the regulars. Eventually Kyosuke meets his possible love interest, Miki Tsujiwaki and there is a very weak and “accidental romantic situations”occur.
Like almost all sports anime, HHWS isn’t about the sport itself, but rather the character relationships, drama and problems that occur. Issues that anime like Eyeshield 21 completely skipped over such as injuries are the focal point of certain episodes and bring in a sense of reality. It makes the characters seem much more human. Actual conflicts
between teammates, recruiting of new members, seniors graduating, recruitment from the pros, you know ACTUAL things that happen in real sports. There are several “weakisodes that revolve around the romantic relationship between Kyosuke and Miki where nothing actually happens. This is a show that I marathoned, but once I got to episodes that revolved around the romance, I stopped watching because they were complete buzz kills. For every weak episode came an amazing episode where you were wondering what was going to happen. Another strong point of the show is the idea that the main characters don’t always win. This is a lesson that Western animation has completely abandoned because it’s assumed that the character is always correct (this an issue that I had with the American release of Astro Boy where Astro was portrayed as someone who knew everything). The moral behind this anime could be explained as easily as “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up”. A shonen moral that our modern day shonen just doesn’t teach anymore.
The characters of the series are the archetypes you would typically see in an anime. You get the “hothead” who charges into everything, the rival, the ladies man, the leader, etc. I have the idea that it’s not how generic your show is, it’s how you do it. If you manage to make these archetypes interact with each other in an interesting manner, it’s not generic. I have to point out that if you’re a male who’s invested in the show, chances are Miki is going to get under your skin. Her Chi-Chi from Dragon Ball Z attitude managed to piss me off more than once. Although she means well, her character is quite irritating. There is huge character development in the show within all the characters. Kyosuke goes from becoming an irritating bastard with a huge ego to a hardworking, humble character.
As far as animation and artwork go, you will find some interesting designs. The animation is what you would expect from the early 2000’s and it looks pretty shoddy at times. The music for HHWS becomes extremely repetitive, especially after 52 episodes. The first opening is the only really good song in the whole series. It feels as if they had a budget for only six songs because they are constantly replayed, and often in inappropriate moments. The first opening song is amazing but becomes overplayed when a big goal is about to be scored, or when something dramatic has occurred. The second opening and ending are completely terrible. They don’t reflect what the show is about at all and dwell too much on love, rather than the hot-blooded feel of the show. I believe the music is an issue that isn’t very major, but it could become increasingly annoying in the long run.
Overall, this is one of the best shonen sports series out there. If you don’t mind some slightly dated animation, repetitive music, and weak romance, this is an amazing show to pass the time with. Despite being 52 episodes and being adapted from a five volume manga, the pace is slow moving, yet engaging. This one gets a high recommendation from me as being an interesting show where the characters don’t have any sexual tension between them (I’m looking at you Big Windup!). I really wish this series would have been released stateside, but that’s never, ever going to happen after Big Windup! tanked. Luckily, there are some pretty decent fansubs floating around and there’s a boxset for those of us that can speak or read Spanish!