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Anime / Shippu! Iron Leaguer

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Whirlwind! Iron Leaguer is a 1993 shonen sport anime series created by Sunrise. Not really that well known in the west. The anime combines mecha genre and sports together initially in the form of a good guys vs cheaters type of story. The series debuted in Super Robot Wars Neo for Wii.

In the future, mankind has developed a multi-sport tournament known as Iron League, using artificially intelligent robots as the players instead of humans. The competition is very popular. However, its main support comes from the Dark Organization, a group that produces cheating Iron Leaguers that use dirty and violent tactics in games as a sure ticket for fame and popularity. While the sports community has been turned into a dangerous and (figuratively) bloody contest, Silver Castle, the team with the lowest winning ratio, tries to preserve true sportsmanship by playing sports by their original rules without any cheating or violence. The team's fate as well as the fate of the Iron League itself is changed when two Iron Leaguers - Mach Windy, Dark Prince FC's former ace striker and Magnum Ace, a mysterious but skillful baseball-playing Leaguer - join Silver Castle, and gradually lead the team back to its forgotten glory. It's not all fun and games, however; as the story goes on, it is revealed that the Iron League is actually a front for something far more sinister...

The series later got a five-episode OVA, Under the Flag of Silver Light, which is a direct sequel to the TV series. Silver Castle, after being bought by the Universal Corporation becomes the team that employs Blood Sport while other teams stay clean due to Silver Castle's contribution. Magnum Ace is frustrated about the way things are going and Mach Windy, who can't stand the change, decides to leave the team with some other members and search for a team to defeat the corrupted Silver Castle.

SIL also has a drama CD, which is only available in Japan.

Silver Castle's main Iron Leaguers are:

Examples provided in the series:

  • Armies Are Evil: The Iron Soldiers.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Gold Brothers, at first anyway.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Gold Arm and Gold Foot when they're being modified into Iron Soldiers; GZ became an oil-thirsting vampire for an episode, and in the OVA Magnum Ace was subjected to this in episode 5.
  • Beneath the Mask: Seagal is a polite and handsome guy who is also a well-known actor. Turns out he's the son of Girochi, the resident Big Bad, and is actually a cruel, calculating man who decides to use Leaguers under his command to destroy Silver Castle.
  • The Berserker: The Gold Brothers.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Magnum Ace, put as a reserve, appears and prevents the opposing team from getting a goal. No one expects this, not even the manager. The Gold Brothers pull this off occasionally after the first arc.
    • Episode 41 has all the wandering Leaguers they met in the Java arc (in addition to the Gold Brothers) come to Silver Castle's aid.
  • Blow You Away: The Gold Brothers use this as their signature techniques for soccer and baseball games.
  • Calling Your Attack: FORTY-FOUR SONIC!! Or any other "attacks" used by other characters.
  • Character Development: A staple for the series but notice that the bad guys also get this, notably the Gold Brothers. Even the Big Bad gets development, and turns good at the end.
    • Almost every named character gets some sort of development throughout the story. Even some of the mooks.
  • Combination Attack: Lots. Most promiment are the Tatsumaki Formation for the Gold Brothers, and Lightning Crush/Supernova for Silver Castle.
  • Cross Counter: Kiai Ryuuken and Dyke Dyson's boxing match ends with a Double Knockout via Cross Counter.
  • Chasing a Shadow: Girochi tries to find Ricardo Ginjou, who was supposed to be dead after a lab accident, to help him finish the unfinished Leaguer engine. Turns out he is really Not Quite Dead.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: 44 Sonic, so much that it inflicts prolonged damage to Magnum; Gold Arm also suffers from it.
  • Darker and Edgier: The five-episode OVA...Oh so much...
    • In-universe explanation is that all leaguers who play well in their fields will be "retired" and be modified into Iron Soldiers, before being sent to the battlefield.
  • Demoted to Extra: In-universe example; The Gold Brothers are put into unsuitable positions and even reserves after being beaten so many times, and eventually get fired from the team.
  • Friendly Rivalry: The Gold Brothers, who saw Silver Castle as their enemy initially, treat them as Worthy Opponents later, and after they defect from Dark Organization they have this towards Silver's members.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: Gold Brothers' eyes change after Heel–Face Turn.
  • Great Offscreen War: We know for a fact that there's a war going on in space. But this is a show about sports, so it's never really focused on. Though the war does factor into the backstory of several characters, and the fact that "retired" Iron Leaguers are repurposed into Iron Soldiers is a plot point.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Windy's initial action is ditching Dark Prince. Later on Top Joy and the Gold Brothers decide to leave Dark Organization for good, as well as some wandering Leaguers in the Java arc.
    • The OVA portrays Silver Castle as a team turned evil (sort of) and Seagal near the end.
  • Heroic BSoD: Bull Armor as his Berserk Button had caused him to destroy his friends. This is also the reason why he hesitated to join Silver Castle in the first place.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: It is repeatedly mentioned that a Leaguer's power is not just their initial build and specs, but also their state of mind: only their love of and concentration on the game will grant them power that exceed scripted specs or calculations. Later on we find out that Magnum Ace, the Fighter Brothers and Ryuken have prototype reactors inside them which will boost them to full power once they affirm their personality and mentality.
    • Special mention goes to Jurota, who tries to find a mental state which can let him counter opponents' moves, even though he's just a robot.
  • Hidden Depths: In the first few episodes, Ryuken feels frustrated about his identity since he can't play soccer well. He soon finds out he's a karate leaguer, and Ricardo installed a powerful prototype reactor inside him, making him a very formidable fighter as shown in Java arc.
  • Hot-Blooded: Seriously. It's one of the best example in the Nineties.
  • Humongous Mecha: Subverted. Iron Leaguers are only slightly bigger than humans, and they have SD proportions.
  • Killed Off for Real: Napalm Head. For some reason, nobody cares to rebuild him.
    • Well, new Leaguers rolled out every time and then, and Seagal despises him and Gold Brothers anyway.
    • While none of the main characters die (despite an EXTREMELY high number of close calls), generic Leaguers often get gruesomely massacred.
  • Lighter and Softer: As the show continues, less crashing happens, and the genre slowly swaps fronm Blood Sport to a typical shonen anime like Captain Tsubasa and Inazuma Eleven. Justified, since various Leaguers learn to play fair and clean, and even the Big Bad gradually accepts this way of playing games, making for a less bloody affair on the field.
    • Darker and Edgier: Anything related to the interstellar war and its relations with Iron League itself, boy GZ was so hurt by that.
  • Limit Break: Almost everyone has one or more.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The Fighter Brothers are Magnum's long lost brothers.
  • Machine Blood: When injured, the Iron Leaguers bleed oil. Nonetheless, it looks painful enough to make the viewers cringe.
  • Mauve Shirt: Silver Castle's Silky. He's just an off-color version of the most standard Iron Leaguer model, but his status as a founding member of the team and their go-to goalkeeper mean he ends up having a surprising amount of screentime and personality, if not quite enough to be a proper main character.
  • Morality Pet: The kids, mainly Bez Bez.
    • Subverted, as Magnum Ace (who was still Silver Frontier) promised the rookie-at-moment Gold Arm this throw after he learns to play by heart instead of just sheer force.
  • Made of Iron: Well, everybody is made of iron, but Ryuuken and GZ can take much more damage than the others without getting hurt due to having more heavy-duty armor.
  • Manly Tears: May or may not be just rainwater.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: It's really easy to forget that Silver Castle is just supposed to be a soccer team, a fact that actually gets lampshaded at one point. While soccer is still the main star, they end up in a plethora of matches ranging from ice hockey to boxing, and most of their members were built for unrelated sports (in fact, the main character himself is a baseball player).
  • Ocular Gushers: During the last match of the World Tour the glorious display of courage, grit and sportsmanship makes both announcers cry waterfalls.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: Every main character suffers from it at least once.
    • Magnum breaks all records by passing out, collapsing and getting back up three times in a row in a single episode.
  • Power Copying: Gold Arm copies Magnum Ace's 44 Sonic. He eventually develops his own variations on it, namely 44 Sonic of Thunder and Rising Blast.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Silver Castle's initial GK, Silkey, has a pink body; Top Joy as well.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots
  • Rousing Speech: Magnum, much like most other Shonen protagonists, has a talent for these.
  • Ruleof Three: Iron League's three main sporting events: Hockey, baseball, and soccer.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Girochi, taking advantage of his position, occationally calls for an Owner Meeting to bend the competition rules as he likes, like what portrays in the World Cup. He also uses this trope to prevent Silver Castle from being fully taken over by Universal Corporation in the OVA.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Mach Windy in the first episode, as he's fed up with his teammates' strategy of beating the crap out of the opposing team's members instead of actually trying to score.
  • Serious Business: Dark Organization has a secret department, Section X, to investigate stray or rival Leaguers as they need it. They also have Leaguers as assassins for dirty jobs, to ensure their lead on the board.
  • Something We Forgot: Silkey and others (the initial members of Silver Castle), at one point, think they've become stronger after the other seven arrive, and forget how they're supposed to play with spirit as they did before. The coach calls them out on this, and they decide to accept Seagal's challenge against his Shark Suits. The match ends with them severely injured and unable to play in Dark Prince's last game, but they recalled their spirit and keep working hard as a part of the team until the end.
  • Strictly Formula: For some reason, Silver Castle almost never plays with any team outside of those controlled by the Dark Organization. Sometimes they fight the very same team twice or three times in a row.
    • They do play with other teams, but they're usually shown with just a few scenes and words, not more than half an episode at most. Their "war" against the Dark Organization is the major plot of the series, after all.
  • The Determinator: Everyone. Just. EVERYONE.
  • Tears from a Stone: In episode 40, after Top Joy performs a Heroic Sacrifice, Magnum is shown with rainwater trickling down his face and from his eyes while he gives a hotblooded Rousing Speech to the remaining team members. Note that he had his visor on at that time and it should've been virtually impossible for rainwater to spill underneath it, so whether this is all symbolism or Magnum actually shed a few Manly Tears will forever remain a mystery.
    • Actually, Top Joy himself has been shown with teary eyes in a few episodes, and there wasn't a single cloud in the sky.
  • The Ace: Magnum, it's in his name.
  • The Lancer: Windy and Jurota actively switch this role.
  • The Mole: Top Joy, due to being scared of the Dark Organization. He eventually does his Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Load: Top Joy, spending more than 4 episodes acting like an idiot who doesn't know how to play soccer.
  • The Virus: Shock Circuit, a black box implanted in every Dark Organization player, letting the boss torture them anytime they're disobeying orders.
    • Elizabeth's Seduction is a literal example, which turns leaguers into oil-thirsty vampires.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Every so often you'll hear a part of the main theme, or the full theme itself, and something awesome will happen.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Magnum suffers from it hard during the baseball matches against Dark Swan by abusing his Limit Break despite serious injury from doing it too much. Gold Arm does it too. Apparantly, no pitcher in this show knows how to pitch a curveball.
    • To be fair, 44 Sonic is their best bet for keeping their opponent from scoring. And any ball slower than that can be easily defeated.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Alucard.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Bull Armor. When his horns flip downward, he'll attack anyone in his way, whether they're enemies or allies. This is fixed soon after he joins.
  • War Is Hell: GZ was deeply mentally scarred from his experience on the interstellar battlefield. You'd be traumatized too if you were forced to kill your teammate after the mission was complete (as he is pointing his weapon at you), or if you had to drain your companion's oil in order to survive long enough to get back to base.
  • World of Badass: A world of sports-playing chubby robots. And every single one of these chubby robots is a Hot-Blooded Determinator
  • We Used to Be Friends: Jet Setter, Bull Armor's former teammate, despises him after the latter's rampage on the field (which destroyed most of the team) and his retirement, seeing him as a friend-deserter and untrustworthy. They get better later on.