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Manga / Captain Tsubasa

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My football is my best friend!

Captain Tsubasa is a highly influential sport manga/anime created by Yoichi Takahashi. It was insanely popular and translated to many languages to the point where it inspired many talented players to take on Association Football (soccer) as a career, such as Alessandro del Piero, Zinedine Zidane, Francesco Totti, and Fernando Torres. This led the Japanese soccer association to assist in the development of the manga/anime to promote the sport in Japan, which inspired players like Hidetoshi Nakata and Seigo Narazaki.

It's also one of the main series that, along with other sacred cows like Dragon Ball, started the manga/anime popularity boom in Europe during the late '80s and early '90s.

It started being marketed as a Shōnen manga, published at Shonen Jump from the start of its run up until the early 2000's. While it remains shonen at heart, however, the Road to 2002 saga and sequels have moved to Seinen magazines, as a good part of its readership is formed by adult men who grew reading it on Shonen Jump.


The story follows Tsubasa Ozora, a boy with great sports abilities and a big dream: to win The World Cup. The story follows him through his school soccer tournament to his first steps in club soccer outside of Japan, and of course his big games with the Japan national team while struggling with injuries and other problems.

Other important characters include his teammates: Ryo Ishizaki, sensitive Taro Misaki and goalkeeper Ace Genzo Wakabayashi. Also, there are his rivals: most notably, Kojiro Hyuga (whose playing style is the opposite of Tsubasa, relaying more on power than on technique), Jun Misugi (a talented, ill strategist) and Hikaru Matsuyama. Later, foreign players like Karl Heinz Schneider are introduced during the FIFA World Youth Cupnote . Important support characters are Roberto (Tsubasa's mentor and coach) and Sanae Nakazawa (a female friend of Tsubasa, who has also quite the crush on him and later manages to date him).


Currently this sports classic is still ongoing, from 1981 to the present days.

  • Captain Tsubasa (1981-1988). 37 Volumes.
  • Boku wa Misaki Taro ("I Am Taro Misaki") (1984). One-shot.
  • Captain Tsubasa: World Youth Tokubetsu Hen - Saikyo no Teki! Holanda Youth ("Special Edition - The Mightiest Opponent! Netherlands U-17") (1993). One-shot.
  • Captain Tsubasa: World Youth Hen (1994-1997). 18 Volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Road to 2002 (2001-2004). 15 Volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Road to 2002 - Go for 2006 (2004). Five chapters, compiled in the last volume of the Road to 2002 manga.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Golden-23 (2005-2008) 12 Volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Endless Dream (2008). One-shot.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Golden-23 - Wish for Peace in Hiroshima (2008). Two-part.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Kaigai Gekito Hen in Calcio - Hi Izuru Kuni no Giocatore ("Overseas Battle Edition in Calcio - Giocatori of the Land of the Rising Sun") (2009). Two volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Kaigai Gekito Hen en La Liga ("Overseas Battle Edition en La Liga") (2010-2011). 5 volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Rising Sun (2014-ongoing)
  • Captain Tsubasa: Memories (2018-2021) A series of prequel stories centered on Tsubasa's childhood prior to the beginning of the story.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Kids Dream (2018-2022). Continues with Boys Dream.
In 2002 an Spiritual Successor was released called Hungry heart.

In December 2017, a third animated series has been announced. It's slated to start in April 2018, and here is a trailer.

In 2021, Takahashi announced he will retire from drawing manga after finishing the current arc (Rising Sun). However, he will continue to supervise the story (with the next arc set to be called Next Dream), which will be told through the videogame Captain Tsubasa: Dream Team, in collaboration with Klab Games.

No relationship to Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-.

Captain Tsubasa contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The Road to 2002 anime. The premise was to cover the first manga series up to the 3rd manga series (the titular Road to 2002), but in practice is merely a rushed retelling of the beginning of the manga series and altering the many sub-plots along the way to catch up with the later manga series; to wit: all romantic subplots from the manga were dropped, even the one involving the protagonist himself who would be married by the 2002 arc, some Love Interests for the guys were introduced, only to provide support as they never went anywhere, while other girls weren’t lucky enough to even exist in this adaptation. Removing the romance wouldn’t be so bad if originally it wasn’t one of the main forces keeping and inspiring the guys to continue playing soccer, but is, and by removing it several events had to be altered or to be downright ignored.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Tsubasa is a milder version. Natsuko, his mother, says that Tsubasa didn't have friends other than Yayoi until they moved to Shizuoka. Tsubasa himself doesn't seem to mind that much, though, since soon the Nankatsu kids befriend him.
    • Also, Aoi Shingo and Ricardo Espadas as kids. The first becomes a borderline male Pollyanna, the other grows into a Jerkass.
  • Alternate Continuity: The Captain Tsubasa's Tecmo videogames are an alternative continuity from both the manga and the animated TV series, with the additional feature that Yoichi Takahashi (the original mangaka) worked closely with Tecmo in the plot department. Many of the plotlines and characters from the games are recycled later in the manga with different names and places. Specifically:
    • In the videogames, Tsubasa goes to play to Lecce in Italy from Brazil, rather than the FC Barcelona in Spain.
    • In the same way, Hyuga and Wakashimazu went to play to Mexico for Club Americanote  in Mexico City, rather than Turin in Italy (Hyuga) and the J-League (Wakashimazu).
    • Hikaru Matsuyama went to play to the Manchester United in England, rather than staying in Japan playing in the J-League.
    • Taro Misaki is the only character whose country when he went to play (France) is unchanged, but not the team he actually plays: In the videogames, he plays for many French teams, while in the manga, he is Paris Saint-Germain initial choice, but his injury prevents both sides from signing the contract; he eventually joins Jubilo Iwata in the J-League instead. Though he does sign up for PSG after the Madrid Olympics, as shown in the Next Dream preview.
    • There's many original characters in the games who were later recycled in the manga with different names and roles, especially Coimbra, who was recycled as Natureza.
    • The last two games features very odd variations to the regular tournament rules normally used in the manga, anime and even Real Life, including Tsubasa and many other foreign characters playing for the host countries they're playing at the moment in the games (Like Tsubasa playing for Brazil and Hyuga for Mexico, despise neither both of them are naturalized or even have plans to become non-Japanese in the manganote . The fifth game include a World Cup (if you can call it like that), when not only the Japanese team have to play against regular national teams, they also have to play against club teams, and the last team they have to face in that game is an all-star team of the best players from around the world vs Japan.
    • The most recently released videogame Rise of New Champions features a brand new story mode, Episode of New Hero, where the World Youth Championship is cancelled, and a new tournament is to be held at the USA. Other than that, it sticks close enough to the original.
  • Alternate History: Starting with Golden 23, the Olympics in Madrid are consistently mentioned, and actually happen in Rising Sun. In real life, Madrid has placed a number of bids to host the Games, but has yet to receive them (most recently for 2020, which went to Tokyo).
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Many people thought that Albese, the minnow team that Aoi plays for in Italy after Internazionale dismisses him, was fictional. Turns out it's real, and is currently playing at the Piedmont division of Eccellenza (the fifth division of Italian football).
    • Hyuga debuting on Juventus wearing a number "1+8" (one plus eight) jersey may also seem outlandish, but it is based on Chilean superstar Iván Zamorano, who wore the number 9 shirt at Internazionale before Ronaldo, another wold-famous number 9, joined the team. This was done in order to let both players be the number 9 on the teamnote . Interestingly enough, the situation in the manga is reversed in which it's the newcomer that takes the amended numbering while the correct number is kept by the team veteran (in this case, Inzars).
  • Always Second Best: Kojiro Hyuga is a very good player, but not good enough to beat Tsubasa. This is played for drama towards the final episodes of the original series, during the third Championship final match, which is all about Hyuga doing everything possible to at last defeat Tsubasa. In the end, the match ends on a draw and both teams are declared champions.
  • Always Someone Better: Several as well, but most notably Tsubasa, Wakabayashi, Schneider and Roberto.
  • Animal Battle Aura: The Tiger Shot, Falcon Shot, Eagle Shot, and even Banana Shot, which has monkeys dancing around in the series's games. The 2018 anime version uses them heavily as well.
  • Artistic License – Physics: A lot of the things they do during the matches qualify. Double overhead kick, anyone?
  • Artistic License – Sports: While most of soccer/football's rules are respected, the players make impossible moves, and use strategies that are pathetic for anyone that understands the sport, all in name of the plot. The matches depicted on the show also have muuuuch more goals than real life's scores.
    • But then it comes an episode (in the Road to 2002 series) where the main focus is a referee that was, apparently, being unfair. The episode then takes a while to talk about referee's methods and other stuff... but then you stop to think about it - this is an anime that never gives a damn thing about referees. Characters are constantly getting severely injured in the middle of matches, sometimes in the most blatant ways, and nobody lifts a finger. All for the sake of awesome, sure, but sends the anime squarely into this trope.
    • There are more egregious examples. Sometimes players violently attack players of the opposite team without receiving any kind of punishment or only receiving a yellow-card. Have in mind we are not talking about faking a miscalculation and hitting your opponents on purpose (which happens in real life) but actually kicking them without holding back, sometimes even after being shouted by your coach/team captain/team partners to "break his leg". This in real life not only would get a red card, but it'd get you kicked from your Soccer League (and FIFA will step in and slap you with a ban), and probably get your team punished as well.
    • In the filler of the first anime series, during the flashback when the Japanese team played in an European tournament, Japan played against England, whose team used the Union Jack flag, rather than the St. George's Cross (a mistake that was actually pretty common in '80s and early '90s Japanese media), the flag used in certain sporting eventsnote , due to the fact all the countries of the United Kingdom normally participate separately, thus using their own flags rather than the Union Jack, which is normally used in political events outside sports (except for the Olympics, in which all Home Nations compete as Great Britain).
    • Heck, just the fact that Hyuga always plays with his sleeves rolled up to the shoulders warrants a mention. According to the rules, no team or player is allowed to play with an incomplete kit (this actually got the Cameroon NT in hot water with FIFA in 2001 when they played some of their World Cup qualifiers and the African Cup of Nations with sleeveless kits); technically, Hyuga bends this rule.
    • Some matches end in a draw, so they go to overtime to break it. But at the end of the extra time, the game is still tied, and it ends there. Penalty shootouts. anyone?
    • As pointed out in this YouTube video, Japan's second goal in the match against Mexico in the WYC should have been rendered offside in real life due to Tsubasa's interference. The fact that Tsubasa continued to play despite bleeding heavily is also never addressed
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Nitta Shun, in the 3rd year Junior High tournament arc.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ken Wakashimazu in the Meiwa-Furano match. Matsuyama, in the WYC match against Sweden. Also Misaki in the final WYC match with Brazil.
  • Break the Cutie: Santana, Misaki, and Aoi had very sad backstories.
  • Break the Haughty: VERY common. Wakabayashi, Hyuga, Shun Nitta, Soda, Espadas, John from the anime, Louis Napoleon, Ryoma Hino and several others get bitchslapped on the courts for their arrogance.
  • Butt-Monkey: Ishizaki, who is also ironically compared to a monkey multiple times through the series.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Tsubasa and Sanae, Yoshiko and Matsuyama.
  • Can't Catch Up: Lots of people in the Japanese team are in clear disadvantage when compared to Tsubasa, Hyuga and Wakabayashi.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Ken Wakashimazu and Aoi Shingo in the World Youth series. The Asia qualifying matches, especially against Thailand, would've been a cakewalk if both didn't refuse the call up in the first place.
  • Chaste Hero: Tsubasa is so Married to the Job that he fails to see Sanae's interest in him for quite a while. The manga shows him as being slightly more aware of it, to the point of standing up for Sanae against her Stalker with a Crush despite clearly knowing how it could put his career in jeopardy; the anime is more subtle.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • World Youth. Before the tournament goes, Japanese coaches happen to come across a video of a fantastic football player. He's described so good that no Japanese players are allowed to watch it for fear that their morale sink. He is Natureza, and he only shows up in the end of the final match, scoring the goal to tie the game and force it to go to overtime.
    • World Youth again. Tomeya Akai first shows up in a bonus section, pre-Asian Youth. On the second time they meet, Aoi recruits him to Japan Youth because he has good marking skill and Aoi feels he will be important later on. He is later tasked to mark Levin of Sweden Youth, a job he does pretty well.
  • Chick Magnet: Misugi (biggest one in-universe), Tsubasa (oblivious and even puzzled as to why girls like him that much), Schester (doesn't mind, but doesn't really bother), Wakashimazu (aware and slightly awkward about it), Pierre (very aware and pleased, interacts directly with his fangirls).
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Tsubasa and Sanae. They even get married and have a child together.
    • A very tragic example, but Levin and Karen were also childhood friends who were very much in love and even about to marry each other until the latter was killed in a car accident.
  • Combination Attack: Twin Shots.
  • Comic-Book Time: Either this, Anachronism Stew, or Ambiguous Time Period. Japan never qualified into World Cup was a plot point up until World Youth arc. The next arc, Road to 2002, starts with stating that World Youth was set in the year of "19xx" and it's pretty much stated that this arc is set between 1998 and 2002 to the point that they show the France national team becoming the winner of 1998 World Cup, that Japan qualified into World Cup for the first time in 1998, that several characters stating the next World Cup in 2002 will be set in Japan and South Korea, and that Tsubasa and his friends aimed to be Japan representatives in the 2002 World Cup. Yet the next arc Golden 23 appears to be set in the late 2000s AKA after 2002 despite the stories are direct sequel of Road to 2002.note  Also in the Rising Sun, which is direct sequel of Golden 23, Misaki appears to use smartphone while talking to Tsubasa.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Hoo boy, just how much Road to 2002 anime compress the story from the manga to the point that some of them are ridiculous and don't make sense? Among others, it's shown that Wakabayashi still plays for Hamburg/Grunwald despite his unnecessarily fatal blunder in the match against Bayern/Routburg (he's put on the bench after said match in the manga, which is more reasonable to be done in real life considering it's about a goalkeeper who makes a completely unnecessary blunder). The most egregious part is how Tsubasa's generations (who are in their 20's, if not late teens) are able to play for Japan National Team for friendly match against Netherlands despite they're all underaged (This is even lampshaded In-Universe). Keep in mind that World Youth arc is completely omitted from this adaptation, so this means they're allowed to play for national team solely because of their team's (U-17) victory in International Junior Youth Championship in France (in the manga, they join U-20 team to compete in World Youth about three years after said victory). And even in the manga, after they won World Youth, they still don't play for national team. They play for U-23 team for Olympics instead. (Then again, Golden 23 manga is created after Road to 2002 anime ended, so this one is at least justified.)
  • Cool Big Sis: Sanae, towards Kumi. Yukari, towards Sanae herself.
  • Crippling the Competition: Some players invoke this trope as much as possible in the soccer fields, with Makoto Souda as the most infamous example. It doesn't end well - for *them*.
  • Cry Cute: Santana. Oh God, Santana. Seeing him open the water works after he's reunited with his mother...
  • Cute Sports Club Manager: A number of them in the Junior High arc. Nankatsu has Sanae (the manga Ur-Example and Trope Codifier) with Yukari and Kumi as her assistants; Furano has Yoshiko, with Machiko as her assistant. Both Sanae and Yoshiko hook up with the captains of their respective teams, Tsubasa and Matsuyama; meanwhile, Yukari hooks up with Tsubasa's Nankatsu Lancer, Ishizaki. And Musashi has Yayoi, who later hooks up with Misugi.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: The Nankatsu and Shutetsu team members, to start.
  • Determinator: Most of the characters, though Tsubasa is the biggest of them all. Special mention goes to Wakabayashi, Morisaki and Tomeya Akai, who withstands *several direct shots to his body* to cover for an injured Genzou, against Levin.
  • Disappeared Dad: Tsubasa's father Koudai is a sea captain and therefore rarely at home; to his merit, though, he does keep contact through letters, and is a fairly normal dad when he gets to spend some weeks home. Hyuga's father died when he was 10 years old: the circumstances vary, depending on the canon you follow.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The German Team. The boss of the original series gets defeated by the Netherlands, Sweden and Brazil in World Youth Cup. And team Japan faces those three teams in the final stages of the World Youth tournament. Schneider was Demoted to Extra.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: "Moete Hero" is covered by several of the voice actors of the 2018 anime.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Jun Misugi. Handicapped with a heart disease. He wipes the floor with both Nankatsu AND Tohou before his heart gives out in both matches. Hence why he's recruited as The Strategist by Katagiri.
    • For the time of the WYC, Misugi was completely recovered from the heart disease. The only handicap remaining is his rather low stamina..
  • Dub Name Change: Everywhere, until 2018 that is.
    • If you ask anyone in Europe who Tsubasa Ozora, Kojiro Hyuga or Genzo Wakabayashi are, most of them will look at you with puzzled looks. However, if you mention Oliver Atton, Mark Lenders and Benji Price... they will probably hug you with tears of joy while they sing the anime Opening (whichever version they saw in their country).
    • Same thing in Latin America, only that instead of Mark Lenders, is Steve Hyuga. And those are only some examples.
    • Hong Kongers will recognize Tsubasa Ozora or Genzo Wakabayashi as Daai Chiwai or Lȁm Yȕensāam.
    • In the Arab world, everyone knows Captain Majid, few people know it's really called Captain Tsubasa.
    • The Brazilian dub keeps the Japanese names, but for Tsubasa and Wakabayashi, it uses the Western-version given names, i.e. Oliver Tsubasa and Benji Wakabayashi. Also, Misaki's first name is Carlos instead of Taro, and Roberto is given the nickname "Maravilha" ("Wonder") in lieu of his surname Hongo. A strange case, at least in Road to 2002, is Hyuga: his name is written the same, but the surname is pronounced "Huega" there!
    • The 2018 series finally averts this and all foreign language dubs of it retain both the original title and the Japanese names, the same can be said for the Dream Team mobile game from 2017 which also retains the Japanese title and names even in the international releases.
    • The 2020 game Rise of New Champions continues the recent streak of keeping the Japanese titles and names in all international releases
  • Eagle Land:
    • A very weird case: The American soccer team is rarely mentioned in the manga and it's always defeated off-screen by other teams (Becoming in some kind of Running Gag there). On the other hand, in the first anime adaptation or at least in one of the non-serial films, the American team is portrayed as a Type 2: A bunch of cheating pricks who don't know much about soccer, but they know how to play dirty, especially against the Japanese team, and the Japanese team wipes the floor with them, not to mention they are the only opponents they're NOT portrayed in sympathetic light in any way. The Tecmo games goes the other way instead: The Americans are Type 1 and are portrayed more positively, albeit sometimes as a bunch of weirdos, especially their captain Mikhael, who considers Ishizaki (from all the people of the Japanese team and NOT Tsubasa, Misaki, Hyuga or anyone barely competent from the Japanese side) his biggest rival.
    • Judging by the way they are depicted in the manga, it's heavily implied that Mexico, of all teams, could be a stand-in for the U.S. for some readers and for a myriad of reasons: Both Mexico and the States are members of the CONCACAF and neighboring countries, it's captain, Ricardo Espadas, is being depicted as a racist jerk toward the Japanese, a common stereotype normally associated with the Americans,note , most of the Mexican players outside Espadas and few extras are depicted as either blond or light-skinned compared with other Latin American players, another stereotype associated with the States and the fact Mexicans are depicted in a more negative light compared with other soccer teams, up to suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of the Japanese team at 8-0 in a friendly match in their own home turf, and in the Azteca Stadium, no less, something that rarely happens with other international teams that the Japanese had previously defeated before. Also, keep in mind the American team only appear in either the non-serial films and the videogames, but not in the manga, and it's very likely Yoichi Takahashi, the author, cannot use the likeness of the American players from those works for legal reasons.
    • This is finally averted in the Rise of New Champions game, when the American soccer team finally appears in a physical form, but like the Tecmo games and the non-serial films, their squad members are considered canon foreigners and being completely characters from previous media.
  • Emotionless Girl —> Defrosting Ice Queen: Santana and Stefan Levin are male versions.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: El Sid Pierre (named after the famous play of Pierre Corneille "Le Cid"), and Louis Napoléon, in the French team.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Hikaru Matsuyama to team Furano, and to team Japan in the manga.
    • Kira Kouzou, specially to Hyuga.
  • First Girl Wins: Subverted in the original anime: Yayoi Aoba was seen in the very first scene and later it seemed she'd be a strong contendor for Tsubasa's affection at first, but she soon was Out of Focus and Tsubasa hooked up with the Second Girl, Sanae. Played with in the manga: Yayoi still was Tsubasa's oldest friend, but the aforementioned scene doesn't take place so Sanae is the First Girl we meet.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: So, so many. Specially Wakabayashi, Tsubasa and Misaki: these guys get very seriously injured twice. Also, there are players who actually strive to injure their rivals when they can, specially pre!Character Development Hyuga, Makoto Soda and not yet defrosted Levin.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Kumi, who later cuts her hair off in WYC. Yukari is a variation: she has a single Tomboyish Ponytail in the manga, but has Girlish Pigtails in the TV series and the movies.
  • Glass Cannon: The Japanese National Team as a whole. They've got excellent scorers in Tsubasa, Aoi and Hyuga as well as great GK's like Wakabayashi and Wakashimazu, but one of their biggest flaws is how easily their defense can be torn and the rival teams can try their luck at scoring. And since the two Waka GK's are prone to Game Breaking Injuries...
    • As far as single players go, post-medical treatment!Jun Misugi becomes the very definition of this. Top scorer, excellent strategist, very technically skilled... and absolutely pathetic stamina, due to having been a Ill Boy for the first 15 years of his life.
    • Ever since the series' focus changed into the Japanese national team, the Tachibana wins have sacrificed themselves for a specific key moment in the respective saga:
  • Hachimaki: Proudly worn by Matsuyama Hikaru and the Furano players. All were made by Matsuyama's girlfriend Yoshiko.
  • Good Bad Translation: Multiple characters have been localized with names that would not be realistically used in their native languages:
    • Gino Hernandez: his first name is actually Italian (Zino is incorrect, though), but "Hernandez" is a strictly Spanish last name.
    • Michael: this spelling is not used in Spanish. The appropriate given name would've been either Miguel or Micael.
    • Raphael: Rafael.
    • Pretty much all the established footballers introduced from Road to 2002 onwards.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Misaki is the star of the Boku wa Misaki Tarou one-shot story.
    • Hyuga and Aoi are the protagonists of the Go for 2006 and Kaigai Gekito Hen in Calcio - Hi Izuru Kuni no Giocatore mini-series.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Averted in the Golden-23 series, when the coach decides NOT to call up Tsubasa & Hyuga for their Olympics qualification games despite protests from fans.
  • Hot-Blooded: Wakayabashi, Hyuga, Kaltz, Shingo.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: Inverted with Wakashimazu Ken, the Karate Keeper. He knows his karate real well and adapts some karate techniques to soccer. Heck, there was a subplot with him not wanting to be Heir to the Dojo and being given a year of probatory by his father to prove himself. Later on, Nitta takes up karate to improve his skills in the Road to 2002 series.
  • Ill Boy: Jun Misugi, who's prone to Hollywood Heart Attacks, up until the World Youth saga.
    • Since this is a sport series and it requires the characters to be at least in good health aside of the occasional ill guy who still wants to play, the cast plces usually filled by ill girls and guys are often taken by players who get injured in one way or another and whose recovery or not is vital to their teams and their careers. These "ill boys" are: Wakabayashi (elementary school arcs), Tsubasa himself (junior high arcs), Wakashimazu (Shin), Misaki and Cha Inchon from the South Korean team (WYC).
  • Imposed Handicap Training: Hyuga's coach trains his soccer team by ordering them to dribble and kick the balls on shore tides. Hyuga himself takes this further by using a heavier ball.
  • Improbable Sports Skills: Famous for this. We have soccer player protagonists who shoots football that follows any arbitrary curve, shots that blows the goalkeeper away and hurts who blocks it, soccer player that jump on posts and crossbar and many other examples.
  • Inner Monologue: Sometimes with slow-motion.
  • Ironic Echo: On the Sao Paulo vs Flamengo match, Tsubasa deliberately falls on one of Santana's tackle to get a free kick in a good position and show him that referees are humans, and that he should stop considering himself a "soccer cyborg", finishing his tirade with "this is one of the fun things in soccer". A few minutes later, in a counter-attack near Sao Paulo's goals, Santana shoots the ball on Tsubasa's foot so that it counts as a Sao Paulo pass, thus not putting his Flamengo partner offside and putting him in an advantageous position to score the goal : as the goal is scored, Santana says to Tsubasa "this is one of the fun things in soccer" with an evil look and a Slasher Smile.
    • Tsubasa stealing Cruyfford's and Diaz's moves mid-match to lead Japan to victory in Rising Sun might also count.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Kumi, and eventually Kanda.
  • Jerkass —> Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Both Wakabayashi and Hyuga.
  • Jerk Jock: Several of these, starting with the original Shutetsu team and Wakabayashi.
  • The Lancer: Several per team.
  • Last Episode, New Character: Naturezza in the World Youth manga series.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: In the last two Volumes of the first manga series Tsubasa and Sanae realized the feelings they have for each other, Sanae finally became honest with herself and her feelings, but Tsubasa is a strange case; he cared for Sanae but showed no hints whatsoever that he liked her or any other girl romantically, so his love confession felt like a last minute plot. This is saved from its own awkwardness because that’s only the first manga series’ climax; the sequels do take its time to show Tsubasa showing his affection towards Sanae, and consequently developing their relationship.
    • Not to mention, while the hook-up itself is rushed, it's actually an important turning point for someone else: Sanae's friendly rival for Tsubasa's love, Kumi Sugimoto, who takes Tsubasa's interest for Sanae in stride and encourages him to tell her his feelings. Quite the feat for a 13-year-old girl.
  • Localized Name in a Non-Localized Setting: European and Latin-American dubs westernize the names of all the characters but don't hide the fact that they are Japanese. Later the main characters will play for Japan's national team, and this is never changed in the dubs. It gets awkward when Japan competes with other foreign teams: the players of every country have names fitting their native language but the players of the Japanese team have English names.
  • Lonely Rich Kid:
    • El Si Pierre is the son of a French nobleman and tycoon who used to be either bullied or sucked up to for his family's riches and prestige. He began practising soccer to avert this problem, since in his vew soccer rules are the same for everyone, and this let him forge real friendships with time.
    • Mark Owairan is a real Arabian prince who spent several years locked inside his father's palace and discovered soccer only when he went out of his Gilded Cage with his bodyguards and saw a bunch of children playing in the streets. He was so fascinated that he started training and playing, rising to the top thanks to his own merits and not to his family's influences.
    • The first anime strongly implies that Wakabayashi is one of these. He lives in a Big Fancy House, the only adult he interacts regularly with is Mikami, his family is nowhere in sight, and a later episode states that his parents are in London (probably due to his father's work) so one of Wakabayashi's reasons to move to Germany is being closer to them.
  • Missing Mom: A source of much drama for Misaki is being estranged from his mother after his parents get a divorce. Also, Santana was abandoned as a baby by his teenage single mom. They all get better. Unlike Roberto, whose mother died when he was a child.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The series breathes and eats this trope, with a side of Artistic License – Physics.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Narrowly averted with Yoshiko and Matsuyama. She didn't want to either distract him from the Furano v/s Nankatsu match and cry in front of him, so she left without a word when the match was barely over... but Matsuyama learnt abot it and raced against the clock to catch her before her flight took off. He succeeded.
    • Played straight in the first part with Roberto and Tsubasa (Roberto left without saying a word to not separate Tsubasa from his friends and family and to not stunt his growth as a player, so cue a Tear Jerker as Tsubasa has an Heroic BSoD) and with Hyuga in the manga ( his father died in an accident and young Hyuga has an Heroic BSoD in the funeral)
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Several professional players shown are pretty much expies for famous real ones, only with their names slightly changed to avoid personal image copyright conflicts. For example, Juan Díaz is pretty much a teenaged Maradona. Rivaúl is expy of Rivaldo. Van Saal is Van Gaal (except balding). Callusias is Casillas. Dammit, every player that is not a main character is inspirated to some important player.
    • Also, the whole thing about Tsubasa going pro in Brazil mirrors the trajectory of Kazuyoshi "Kazu" Miura, one of the first pro soccer players in Japan, who became a professional by playing for teams like Santos and Palmeiras in the late 80s.
    • Averted in the videogames with Coimbra (Natureza's prototype): His full name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra. If that name doesn't sound familiar for anyone, his name is the real name of the former Brazilian star and former manager of the senior Japanese team, Zico.
  • Off-Model: Takahashi is rather infamous for the lack of realistic physical proportions in many of his illustrations (including, but not limited to, the extra long legs). Case in point, the illustration featuring Sanae and Tsubasa's Western-style wedding becomes unintentionally hilarious because of the lengths he went through to fit the whole Japanese team in two splash pages.
  • One Steve Limit: There are two Shingos among the main characters, although Aoi gets much more focus than Takasugi.
  • One Last Job: Yuto Nagatomo in 2018 anime special edition.
    "Tsubasa and Misaki... if they can score with THAT shot, we shall win. I've seen it all. (cue flashback) The one who sends the cross is going to be me."
  • Only Six Faces: Several character designs are very, very similar. Seriously, sometimes Misugi and Matsuyama look pretty much like twin brothers, while Kaori Matsumoto and Tsubasa's mother Natsuko can only be told apart by their clothes.
  • Open-Minded Parent: The parental figures, if featured, are portrayed as this. Special mention goes, obviously, to Tsubasa's parents, who support his dream to go to Brazil and play profesionally ever since he was around 10. Also, Hyuga's mother.
    • Averted but justified with Misugi's mother, who borders on My Beloved Smother but one still feels sympathy for her plea due to Misugi's heart illness.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Averted: the rivals are fairly sympathetic, sometimes bordering on Punch Clock Villains. If rivals aren't sympathetic, though, they'll lose badly as punishment, and they do level out with time (Santana and Espadas, for example, are noticeably more friendly when Rising Sun rolls out).
  • Own Goal: One of the many humiliations that befalls Ryo Ishizaki is when he scores an own goal in a game against the Hanawa team. He later redeems himself for it, though.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Maki idolizes Hyuga, but she still wants her own career as a softball player. And she gets it later.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Several European players have blue eyes and blond hair, several Latin Americans have darker skin and hair. Curiously, Hyuga and Jito are dark skinned Japanese.
    • Not that curiously: when a Japanese person manages to tan, they get very tanned. Hyuuga also has a good reason: as a pre-teen he used to hold part-time jobs that involved heavy physical activity under the Saitama sun, so it would be stranger if he didn't have darker skin than the standard. As for Jitou, he's from a port city and used to be in another sport club before Sano recruited him.
    • Hyuga being dark-skinned is lampshaded by Maki the first time they talk together at Okinawa:
      Maki: Judging by your accent, you're not from here.
      Hyuga: That's right.
      Maki: You're so tanned I thought, at first, that you were from Okinawa.
    • Oddly enough, this is partly averted, of all teams, with the Mexican team. With the exception of Espadas and some few players, the rest of the Mexican players are blond or light-skinned, unlike their South American peers.
  • Pose of Supplication: Used once by Hyuga and his team before a important final, so their Stern Teacher would let a punished Hyuga play. When he doesn't seem moved, the whole Toho team goes into the pose, and the Stern Teacher subjects Hyuga to a last test before letting him return.
  • Power Copying: Tsubasa's abilities gradually evolve to the point that he only needs to see a rival perform a signature move once to be able to pull it off himself, which sometimes causes some rather contrived motion-based Ironic Echoes. In Rising Sun he outright steals Juan Diaz's repertoire during the Japan-Argentina match.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The Road to 2002 TV series. The premise was to cover the first manga series up to the 3rd manga series (the titular Road to 2002), but in practice is merely a rushed retelling of the beginning of the manga series and alteres the many sub-plots along the way to catch up with the later manga series. To wit: all romantic subplots from the manga were dropped, even the one involving Tsubasa himself who would be married by the 2002 arc, some Love Interests for the guys were introduced, only to provide support as they never went anywhere, while other girls weren’t lucky enough to even exist in this adaptation... and, for worse, the whole Would Youth Cup manga was skipped, nevermind its earliest parts being featured in J.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Put on a Bus: The Tachibana twins, after the second school tournament. They're either substitutes without any chance to play or are soon seriously injured whenever they get to play.
  • Rejecting the Inheritance: Wakashimazu is the Heir to the Dojo of his father's karate school. However, he refuses, preferring to pursue career in soccer instead.
  • The Rival: Hyuga, Misugi, Schneider (to Wakabayashi), Santana, Natureza.
  • Romantic False Lead: Kouji Kanda, Sanae's Stalker with a Crush.
  • Rule of Cool: A lot of the special techniques runs under this, especially those of the Tachibana twins and Wakashimazu.
  • Self-Made Man:
    • Espadas and his True Companions, Santana, Roberto, Pepe, Natureza... yeah, this happens a lot among the Latin American players.
    • Also Hyuuga, who comes from a very impoverished family and then trains and works his way up.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Tsubasa and Wakabayashi, Tsubasa and Hyuga, Misugi and Matsuyama, Jito and Sanou, Takeshi and Hyuga, Gino and Shingo, Kisugi and Taki, Pierre and Napoleon, etc. In fact, every dual partnership will play with this trope to some degree.
  • Serial Escalation: Just exactly how powerful football shoots could be? And how ridiculous is it going to be done? Hand-killing Levin Shoot? Ground-kicking Raiju shoot? Dragon-unleashing Counter Shoot!? Hand-propelling Dragon-unleashing Counter Arrow Shoot!?! Phoenix-producing Counter Counter Shoot!?!? Body-spinning Tornado Shoot?! Two-times body-spinning Two Turn Tornado Shoot?!? Body-spinning ground-kicking hand-propelling Tornado Arrow Sky Wing Shoot?!?!
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • By the second school tournament, almost everyone in the Nankatsu team is a Sanae/Tsubasa shipper. Even Sanae's love rival Kumi gets to join them, after she and Tsubasa sort things out.
    • Let's not forget the Furano team and their support of Yoshiko/Matsuyama. Specially Oda Kazumasa, much to the ire of the most discreet Machiko.
  • Shorttank: Aside of Sanae, Maki Akamine.
  • Shower of Angst: Hyuga has one after his fight with Willem in Road to 2002.
  • Shown Their Work: The Wish for Peace manga special, featuring a Japan vs. Greece friendly match set in Hiroshima, not only has information about the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Olympics, but about the Greek Civil War that took place after World War II. This is because the Greek coach's great-grandpa died there.
  • Shrinking Violet: Yoshiko Fujisawa. Yuzo Morisaki is a male example... and one of the few who are not Butt Monkeys.
  • Snow Means Love: One of Yoshiko and Matsuyama's most shippy scenes happens when they're working on cleaning off the snow in the Furano fields. Matsuyama notices that Yoshiko's hands are cold and injured due to her hard work and attempts to warm them up with his own, then they both realize the implications and jerk away while heavily blushing.
  • The Strategist: Misugi.
  • Street Urchin: Ricardo Espadas's Freudian Excuse is his and his friends's past as one. Doesn't keep him from being a bitter Jerkass who ends up subjected to a major Break the Haughty.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality:
    • Schneider. His Sugar-and-Ice Personality side shows up more in relation to his deep devotion to his family and his pain upon seeing his parents in the verge of getting a divorce.
    • The very calm and cool but also honor-bound Jun Misugi.
    • Arguably, El Si Pierre.
  • Superior Twin Teamwork: The Tachibana twins rely on their innate understanding of one another as the basis for their combination attacks. However, this gets deconstructed as Coach Gamo points out that their dependency on each other is a Crippling Overspecialization and borderline Wonder Twin Power that is ultimately holding them back.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: In the Anime. AND GOOD LORD, HOW! Since they always try to reproduce the dialogues and commentator's speeches directly from the manga pannels, the players take ages to run from one mid-field to the other (some fans calculated that, based on how long they take, the fields have to be around 18 Km/11.2 miles long!) and are mantained in mid-air, sometimes for whole minutes!
  • Team Dad: Roberto, Kira, Furuoya, Gamo, Katagiri. Kitazume is a more stern example.
  • Team Mom: Sanae, Yayoi, Yoshiko, Machiko and Yukari. Justified since they're the assistants of their teams. Also Tsubasa's mother Natsuko, specially during the first part of the series.
    • Subverted with Kumi, who is an assistant too but is quite younger than Sanae and Yukari so she's more of a cute little sister to them.
  • Team Spirit: Even if the matches turn out to be more like one-in-one duels, the underlying message is that everything must be done for the benefit of the team, and those who don't follow it will REALLY regret it. Specially obvious when Hyuuga gets benched for almost the whole junior high soccer season after he breaks this implicit message, when he takes a leave to train without permission.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Hyuga is the Performer, Tsubasa is the Technician. But later, Tsubasa is the Performer while Santana is the Technician.
  • Those Two Guys: Nakano and Ichikawa, the two cheerleaders who were often subjected to Sanae's temper tantrums.
  • To Be a Master: Indeed.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Machiko and Yoshiko, Sanae and Kumi, Yukari and Sanae.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Pretty much all of Japan's first team players in the Road to 2002 and Golden 23 series.
  • Training from Hell: Pretty much every player subjects himself to this.
  • Translation Convention: Played straight in the animated adaptations but averted in the manga, especially in the Road to 2002 manga series when both Tsubasa and Hyuga needs translators when they go to Spain and Italy respectively.
  • True Companions: The teams, specially the Japanese ones.
  • Trying Not to Cry: Yoshiko when she chooses to leave without a word, Kumi after being rejected by Tsubasa.
  • Truth in Television: Starting from Road to 2002, the series starts to do away with physics-defying moves and becomes closer to real life. Examples:
    • Tsubasa is forced to play in the satellite B team. This is not uncommon in Spain, where competition for the first team roster is extremely intense and non-EU youth players need time to adapt.
    • Hyuga, previously able to steamroll every enemy with his dribble, is found to be lacking in body balance department. He gets pulverized during his debut match in Italy, where the defenders are known to be merciless and extremely physical.
    • Wakabayashi sets up an overlap late in the match, intending to score... but defying the coach's instructions to settle for a tie. Instead the enemy defends and counters and scores a goal. He is then benched by the coach.
  • Tsundere:
    • Sanae starts as one in the anime series, but mellows down as she becomes Older and Wiser. Her flashes of temper come more from Ishizaki's teasing than Tsubasa's obliviousness and her Shorttank personality.
    • Machiko Machida seems to be more of a traditional example.
    • The most straight-up Tsundere is Helena, an Italian girl whom Misaki met in a filler episode of the old series. Bossy, cheerful, stubborn, blonde with pigtails, and had a crush on Misaki that she always denied.
    • Maki Akamine is another.
  • Twice Shy: Matsuyama and Yoshiko, in the original TV series and the Road to 2002 anime.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Santana was designed to be this by the owner of Bara FC, Barsole Bara. When Santana turned 17 years old, he got out of this phase by revealing his origins and his endeavorships under Bara, however, this entire process left him being an emotionless person as a result.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ishizaki and Urabe, especially after they start playing for the same team in the J-League.
  • Volleying Insults: Ishizaki and the Tachibana twins.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 93 of Rising Sun. Jun Misugi blocks a Fire Shot from Schneider, and it hits him right on the chest. He immediately collapses on the field, while his teammates rush to his aid and Tsubasa desperately begs him not to die...
  • The Worf Barrage: Hernandez, Muller, Espadas, Salinas. Always happens when the opponent's goalkeeper has a name. Wakabayashi is a rare protagonist case when he's inspired enough.
  • The Worf Effect: Good Christ, Michael. He isn't just a guy who manages to defeat Natureza. He is the guy who has marked Natureza so tightly that Natureza cannot make shot at all during a game.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The teams adapt and counter-adapt to each other's playing styles so often within a single match (and even within a single play), it's ridiculous. Trying a cross? The wing back will try to block you, so you pass to a better positioned teammate coming right behind you and he'll attempt the cross instead. Your center forward is tightly marked? Cross high enough that he can outjump the defender. And if he can't? No problem, the cross was for the second striker all along! He'll try the shot... Whoa, where did the other center back come from? Well, just feint and give it to the CF who's sure to have recovered earlier from feinting the cross reception and is in a better position to take a shot... And the list goes on.