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Hungry Heart: Wild Striker (ハングリーハート WILD STRIKER) is the anime adaptation of the 2002 Hungry Heart soccer manga. It was done by Yoichi Takahashi, the creator of the more well-known Captain Tsubasa.

The story follows Kyōsuke Kanou, a high school student who once dreamed of being a soccer player. His older brother Seisuke, an already famous player, is the one who trained him and taught him all he knows. But after Seisuke left to play in Italy, people started comparing the siblings and that plus a life-wreaking discovery about himself made Kyōsuke's self-esteem plummet, making him quit sports altogether.

After transferring to a new school, Kyōsuke has a fateful meeting with Miki Tsujiwaki, a Passionate Sports Girl from the girls' soccer team. He at first coaches Miki's team but later he checks on the boys' team and joins it, befriending the goalkeeper Sakai Jefferson Kouji and the scorer Rafael Rodrigo del Canto. With their help and Miki's support, he begins to rediscover his passion for the game...

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Hungry Heart could be called a more down-to-earth and mature version of Captain Tsubasa with some Slam Dunk mixed in between. Just to name a few points, the protagonist Kyōsuke is not as Ace-ish as Tsubasa (and the actual ace is his brother), his love interest Miki was more outspoken than Sanae, a little bit more of drama is included, less important players are still relevant to the outcome of the match and the maneuvers are a lot less exaggerated. On the other hand, though, it makes use of visual gags and occasional Super-Deformed, which Captain Tsubasa never really used.

Unluckily it was a lot shorter than its Spiritual Predecessor, having only reached the 6th volume of the manga, and the 52nd episode of the anime. The series has a became very popular in Latin America (most likely due to LatAm appreciation of Soccer and how many times Animax LatAm reran it), following the trend of other obscure series like Dotto! Koni-chan or Ghost Sweeper Mikami.

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This series contains the following tropes:

  • Almost Kiss: At least one between Kyousuke and Miki.
  • Artistic License – Sports: Despite being more realistic than its predecessor, there are still some instances:
    • In the first Akanegaoka vs Tenjin match, five Tenjin players simultaneously slide-tackle against Kyosuke, in a very blatant attempt to injure his leg. The referee only issues a yellow card for one of them, when such an attempt would have been worth a red one for all of them in a real game.
    • The final match between Akanegaoka and Tenryu. In a real game, a corner kick would have been issued for a final play before declaring the end of the match, since a match cannot end while the ball is dead.
  • Berserk Button: Kyōsuke really hates being compared to his brother. He never had a problem with the comparison in his younger days, it's only when he was in Junior High, after he inadvertently learned he was an adopted child), that he developed the button. Coming to terms with it during a match against a team that tries to use the button at its advantage, is a crucial moment of his Character Development.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Seisuke, who taught Kyosuke everything about soccer.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kyosuke's performance in the nationals despite losing to Tenryu in the semifinals got him drafted for the Sub-22 Japanese National Team, and landed him a contract in the AFC Ajax, putting him on the path to become a professional. However, he has to leave for Amsterdam, leaving his teammates behind.
  • Book-Ends: The first opening has a scene in which Kyosuke enters a stadium and needs to cover his face due to appreciate the scenario. The anime ends the same way (even with the same music) albeit with minor changes.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Averted and later played straight in the matches against Tenjin High. They win the Interhigh match against Akanegaoka using Unnecessary Roughness to injure Kyousuke and put him out of the game but during the rematch in the regionals, Kyousuke has gotten wise and doesn't let them pull the same trick on them again.
  • Cool Big Sis: Kaori takes up the role towards not only Kyousuke but the rest of the team.
  • Does Not Like Men: Gender-flipped with Kyōsuke. He's so allergic to girls, pimples appear on his face whenever a girl comes close to her. The only ones who can approach him without causing this effect are his eventual sweetheart Miki, and the team's physiotherapist and nutritionist Kaori, who he has a crush on before finding out that she's Seisuke's girlfriend.
  • Expy: Considering this series could be described as Slam Dunk meets Captain Tsubasa, expies are to be expected.
    • Kyōsuke: an egotistical newbie who dyes his hair red and is a natural for Soccer. That says Hanamichi Sakuragi all over the place.
    • Miki: is clearly Sanae, but more Hot-Blooded and one who becomes a soccer player rather than a team manager.
    • Rodrigo: Kojiro Hyuuga. Both are dark-skinned, arrogant, rough players who care a great deal for their families.
    • Sakai: Genzo Wakabayashi. Both are gifted goalies, very popular, but with quite the attitude problems and prone to injuries.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Three victims: Rodrigo, Kyosuke and Esaka. Seisuke also has one but offscreen.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the Beach Episode, Kyousuke and his friends have a kakigori stall. Kaori helps them out... wearing a bikini... and then putting on an apron over her bikini...
  • Groin Attack: A rather funny one happens to Kiba in Episode 47, when he accidentally scores a goal with his balls. The match commentator even says "It was a very painful shot".
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Kyousuke is very tall while Miki is slightly waifish, so this trope takes place between them. It doesn't help that the anime itself can't decide how *exactly* tall Kyosuke is.
  • I Am Not My Father: More "I Am Not My Brother", this is Kyousuke's early struggle, being constantly put in his brother's shadow. His learning of being adopted only made this worse.
  • It Runs in the Family: Kyousuke's deceased biological dad, Keisuke Narumi, also was a soccer player.
  • I Will Wait for You: Implied in the final episode. Before Kyosuke departs for Amsterdam, Miki's last words to him are "Come back soon, Kyosuke Kanou".
  • Japanese Delinquents:
    • Kyousuke was one in junior high when he mentally/emotionally broke down after learning that he was adopted
    • In the anime, Kiba's friends were street brawlers until Kiba got them into soccer. That's why they're so devoted to him; he "saved" them from being nobodies.
  • Jerkass: Kiba and his friends began like this and, as a result, the regular team members took prolonged offence to them. Thankfully, they underwent Character Development.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kyousuke, Sakai and Rodrigo start as apparent jerk asses, but soon they show their Hidden Depths and become this.
  • The Load: Shinkawa and Muroi's insistence to pass the ball to Kiba regardless of whether he's in a good position or not, as well as Kiba's obsession with trying to become the team's ace striker end up costing the team their first two important matches during the second year.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Kyousuke didn't learn that he was the adopted child of the Kanou family until he was in junior high. Understandably, he didn't take the discovery super well.
  • Made of Iron: Or something even stronger. In the manga's beginning, Kyosuke breaks iron.
  • Maybe Ever After: The Unresolved Sexual Tension between Miki and Kyosuke is left hanging, but their final words to each other before Kyosuke departs all but state she's going to wait for his return.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Sakai, who has Swedish blood.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Kyosuke, who rather nice body and gets to show it off more than once.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Averted for the most part, though there are some instances:
    • Kokuryouu, the regional champions, aren't actively malicious or antagonistic, but their coach looks down on Akanegaoka, and especially on Sako and Kamata, whom he rejected for his team because he considered them worthless (and still does to an extent, until Akanegaoka beats them in the regionals).
    • Tenjin High in the Interhigh of the second year. The team is full of aggressive players whose favorite tactic is Unnecessary Roughness, and they even injure Kyosuke leaving him unable to play for three months.
    • Kamigata High, Akanegaoka's first opponent in the second year nationals. The team is composed of former teammates of Esaka, who mock him for having been their worst player back in junior high, and love to engage in Trash Talk to distract their foes.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Keisuke and Mitsuko Narumi, Kyosuke's birth parents, died in an accident. And Kyousuke was there.
    • Sakai's beloved mother was an Ill Girl and died early in life, which marked him deeply. It doesn't help that his relationship with his dad isn't the best either.
  • Plucky Girl: No one should ever get between Miki and her decisions.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Of Captain Tsubasa, another series by Takahashi.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Kyōsuke and Miki, who vehemently do this in a synchro way, when meeting Kyōsuke's headmaster, and his Soccer team captain of his former Junior High School. They don't buy it one second.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: When you hear an insert theme song Kyosuke will pull an awesome move. However, it sometimes cheats the viewer. The insert theme song does not mean Akanegoaka is gonna win. Heck, on one occasion the music ended, Kyosuke failed but still made the goal without the insert song.
  • The Only Way They Will Learn: Even though Kyosuke is made to play forward, Coach Murakami at first forces him to play defense in the back for no apparent reason and much to his dismay. However, in the first match of the Interhigh tournament, Kyosuke is finally allowed to play forward, and he's able to predict how the opposing players react to him, breaking through their defense. It's then that Kyosuke understands that this was Murakami's intention all along.
  • To Be a Master: Kyōsuke Kanou dreams of being a soccer player.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Tenjin High does this, deliberately trying to injure Kyousuke to leave Akanegaoka without their key player. They succeed the first time, but not the second.
  • Tsundere: Miki, a Type B: cheery and sweet to almost everyone, skittish to Kyousuke.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Kyōsuke, Rodrigo and Sakai love to bicker between each other, but they're tight-knit friends who share the same love for soccer, and will always jump to each other's help: Rodrigo and Sakai helping Kyōsuke come to terms with his hesitations after he tried to quit soccer a second time, and Kyōsuke spearheading the operation to raise funds through part-time jobs to help Rodrigo's poor family and allow him to stay in Japan, are the best examples of this.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: After Miki's goading, Kyosuke accepted her offer to coach the women's team, only to have them pick up stones and pebbles on the pitch as their "training". It appears that Kyosuke was only bullying them, but Miki believes that it is some conditioning exercise of sorts. It is later revealed in a flashback that Kyosuke and Seisuke used to do the same as a warm-up and to have a clean pitch to play on. Kyosuke also does them the favor of leveling the pitch using a manual roller before starting their proper training.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The anime has lots of colored hairs.

Alternative Title(s): Hungry Heart

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