Kyosuke Kano has lived under the shadow of his successful brother Seisuke all his life who is a professional soccer player. Tired of being compared and downgraded at, he abandoned playing soccer until a boy from his new highschool discovered him and asked him to join their team. Kyosuke joins it and befriends two other first year players named Rodrigo and Sakai with the dream of becoming professional soccer players themselves.
When I first started watching this anime, I really didn't expect anything special. I was simply looking for a sports anime that I could watch in my free time and also was relatively long (52 episodes) that hopefully enjoyable. Hungry Heart Wild Striker brings nothing new to the table. It's not a revolutionary anime by any means, and its relatively unknown compared to some of the other mainstream sports anime like Prince of Tennis, Eyeshield 21 Major, Shoot!, etc. However, after watching this anime, you cannot help but feel a special bond to it after following the journey and life's ups
and downs of Kanou Kyosuke. Oh, by the way, this is a soccer (football) anime, for your information.
When I say that Wild Striker doesn't bring anything new, the one exemption from that can be with the story. Although you still have your typical sports anime story with following a protagonist (Kyosuke, in this case) and his will to win the national championship. The catch here is that his brother, Kanou Seisuke, is already a superstar that plays for AC Milan, and both of them are polar opposites in every way, shape and form. So Kyosuke is always being compared to his older brother and is expected to follow in his footsteps (well, sort of anyway). That's the overall main theme that the anime always goes back too. However, let me say that there is a lot of plot twists that Wild Striker brings in that really catches you off-guard. It keeps you on your toes and keeps the story very interesting. The matches are also very unpredictable, as Kyosuke's teams suffers plenty of losses throughout the show. There's a bit of romance in here as well, which is actually very interesting to watch.
The animation and art is really brings this anime down a notch. Everyone knows that sports anime has a ton of repeated frames, but Wild Striker really pushes that to the limit as each match, it feels like you're watching the same exact match from an earlier episode, just with a different opponent. A very focal point of sports anime is how the animation during matches is done and because of the poor quality in Wild Striker, sometimes its not that fun to watch. The same thing can be said of the character design. Seriously. It makes me wonder what the budget was for this anime. A bunch of the characters, if you look closely, have the same exactly facial structure, but simply different color eyes and a different hair style. Swap hairs and you'll swap the character. But Wild Striker does provide enough different character designs to keep it interesting.
Before I get too deep into my sound explanation, let me just start off by saying the the first season OP was the best piece of music in the entire anime. It's really nice piece of music that fits in perfectly with the anime and very uplifting as well. The rest of the music ranges from so-so to not all that great. The voice actors bring a lot of emotion into the characters they act for, which really brings a lot of the matches to life.
The characters themselves, I was very conflicted on. At first, I was going to write how they were pretty much unoriginal, but when I sat and thought about it for a few minutes, the characters are actually pretty decent. The anime brings just enough different types of characters to compliment the main protagonists in the show, but as I mentioned earlier, save for a few, they all look relatively the same. My biggest qualm about the characters is that there aren't many opponents that the show heavily concentrates on. Sure, there are teams, but not single opponents. In other words, they'll introduce a rival, concentrate on him for about 4-5 episodes tops, and then after the teams play their match, moves on forward. But I guess that's also a good thing, in order to bring in new people into the show.
Even with all of the negative aspects I mentioned about this show, you simply cannot help but to watch episode after episode because the story is pretty unpredictable. When you think a team is going to win, they end up losing. When you think they're going to lose, they end up winning. Even the storyline itself has a few nice plot twists that you won't see coming. Though the matches do tend to repeat themselves with the animation, they still have some mystifying quality that makes you watch in anticipation. Bottom line, Wild Striker is enjoyable to the max.
When I rank sports anime, I typically think of placing them in one of three tier groups: top tier, middle tier and bottom tier. I would place Wild Striker in the middle tier. It's definitely not the worst thing about there, as its very entertaining to watch. However, the ending may leave you with an unsatisfied taste in your mouth and wanting more. In addition, the lack of detail in character design and variability in animation prevent it from the top tier of sports anime. Nevertheless, its something that's worth your time to check out for yourself.
An old and relatively unknown anime. Does it deserve popularity? Scroll down…
[ 1 MINUTE REVIEW ]
Although there are not a lot of good sports anime out there, Hungry Heart Wild Striker is definitely a great sports anime and is definitely undervalued and underappreciated. Although it does contain some stereotypical shonen elements and characters, the anime is actually much deeper than it appears on the surface. It deals with some real issues that soccer players face such as injuries, uncooperative teammates, going pro and many more. Also, this anime’s story line is really strong and keeps you going through all the episodes. The
hero, Kanou Kyosuke, is an extremely likable character and adds to the show’s strong story line and slapstick humor. However, the animation and music really suck. If you love soccer, then you should definitely check this anime out. If you’re not, you can still watch this anime to kill time. Either way, check it out.
[ 5 MINUTE REVIEW ]
Hungry Heart has one of the best stories possible for a soccer anime. Our hero, Kanou Kyosuke, is a great striker but is too rough for the soccer field. Also, his brother is Japan’s top soccer superstar and plays for the Italian club, AC Milan. Tired of living in his brother’s shadow and being compared to him all the time, Kanou quits soccer for good. But one day, Miki, his classmate, blackmails him into coaching the girls soccer club for a week. As he coaches the girls, Kanou realizes he doesn’t need to give up soccer and joins the high school soccer team, hoping to play alongside his brother in the World Cup one day. And thus, begins Kanou’s journey.
The story really is amazing as it is truly inspirational. Kanou, a punk, tries to become Japan’s top striker. You might be thinking “Oh, it’s an anime… Of course he’s going to win all the matches at the last minute and fulfill his dream. This is too predictable…” Well that’s where you, and most people, go wrong with this anime. The plot has several twists and keeps you engaged through all 52 episodes. And unlike Captain Tsubasa, Kanou’s team does not win every match. In fact, they lose quite a lot. The story also brings in a bit of realism, by showing us how difficult it really is to pursue a career in soccer. . Also, you realize how a player’s personal life affects his performance on the field. The importance of team work is also emphasized on constantly. As I said before, the inner meaning of the anime has more than meets the eye.
The characters in the anime are what make the anime enjoyable. Although they superficially appear to be your typical shonen anime side characters, they are not. In the first quarter of the anime, all the characters except Kanou fail to hold your attention for long. However, as the story progresses, you begin to see the complexity in their personalities. The usual side-kicks turn into main characters and their transformation is felt greatly, especially in the cases of Rodrigo, Sakai, Esaka and Kamata. The characters are just so well portrayed that, when they win, you feel like cheering with them and when they lose, you get frustrated. You can feel what is at stake during the big matches. Kanou’s character shows great depth and his character develops through every episode, which is very entertaining and inspiring, to watch. You watch him transform from a street punk to a mature soccer player.
The animation in this anime is well, terrible. Although it wasn’t a very high budget anime or very new, it was still sad to see an insane amount of frame recycling. For example, the 5 second animation of Kanou taking a shot or Rodrigo passing the ball is used in almost every 5th episode. I’m not kidding. In fact, you even see the same animation clip repeated FOUR times in a single episode. It is a very annoying feeling to see the same player play the same pass to the same person over and over again. The character design is another disaster. Almost every midfielder in the anime looks the same. Just change his hair color and his jersey color and there you go – a new midfielder. Seriously, they don’t even change the poor fellows’ hairstyles. Thankfully, the story and the characters themselves are strong enough to keep you motivated to watch the rest of the series.
The music was the second and final problem I had with this anime. The 1st opening theme was pretty good and suited the mood. Sadly, that was the one noteworthy track. The others are just out of place. For example, they play some sort of carnival music during an intense second half. It really feels out of place. Speaking of songs and their placing, the song placing in this anime was absolutely stupid. Whenever you hear inspirational music play, you know that Kanou’s team is going to score in 2 minutes and whenever you hear a daunting drum beat track, you know the opponents are going to score. It really gives the suspense away. They should’ve really put some more thought into that. Howver, it isn’t intolerable.
The ending is great and provides just about enough room for fan fiction. As far as the voice over goes, it is done really well and you can see that the voice actors really enjoyed what they were doing, especially Miki’s and Esaka’s. The subbing by Saizuken could’ve been a bit better though.
Overall, Hungry Heart Wild Striker is a superb anime with a strong story and interesting characters. The animation quality and the soundtrack are disappointing, but are not all that frustrating. If you love soccer, shonen with a dash of Slice of Life or both, then you definitely can’t go wrong with this anime. It’s just one of those anime which has that “it” factor.
( P.S- The way soccer is pronounced as “sucker” can be annoying, but it sort of grows on you :D)
Story: This is just a typical story of a guy who gave up soccer cause he was being compared with his brother too much. Soon he starts kicking his own game with his new teammates to play in the same professional team as his brother one day. That's about how it starts out and throughout the plot it expresses it.
Art: The artwork won't be counted as too bad for a pretty old anime in my eyes. It's not like all the new ones with action and very thing in high quality but is VERY worth watching still.
Sound: The sounds are pretty good with their
characters. Since this anime was dubbed in cantonese and japanese it's hard to say. Though if you speak cantonese WATCH the cantonese one cause it's super funny. Didn't really ever try the japanese one but I doubt it can be that bad.
Character: This is one part of the anime that is my favorite part. Most characters have their own road to soccer stardom but they each have diffiiculties and their own power. Most shocking things happen with the main characters Kyosuke. Though the one known as his girlfriend (as a joke) Miki is not expressed very good with personal life though she's a supporter for Kyosuke.
Enjoyment: As one of the first animes I watched it's definitely NOT a shabby anime. There are NO ecchi in this anime whatsoever and one of the funniest one you will find around on this time of day and year.Throughout the plot the main character Kyosuke goes around making trouble and trying to score. No matter what ways he makes this anime worth watching.
Overall: Since I absolutely LOVE this anime. 10 is one of the worse scores I can give it actually. If I had a choice i will give it a 100.
One look at my list of watched animes will tell you that I am a novice to the world of animes. Certifying "Hungry Heart: Wild Striker" to be the best sports anime that I have ever seen might not amount to much, since it is arguably the only sports anime that I have seen till date.
This incident occurred during the era when I had not yet watched an anime. One fine day, I came across my friend sitting in front of his laptop watching a "Japanese cartoon" in which characters with large eyes and pointed noses wearing orange were playing soccer with other characters with
large eyes and pointed noses wearing blue. After watching over my friend's shoulder for about a couple of minutes, I thought I had got the general idea of the show. With what I assumed to be a wise wag of the head, I told him my impression - a soccer based show where the team you support face overwhelming odds, but they always manage to win.
I was totally wrong.
My friend assured me on the above point, and convinced me to give it a shot. Thus, I began watching "Hungry Heart: Wild Striker". And I am glad I did.
The main focus is on the soccer team of Jyoyo Akanegaoka High School. The soccer matches are a treat. True that some of the players seem to be adept at defying the laws of gravity and the limits of the human body. Often the ball is kicked or headed from an altitude of several times the goal-post. At some points, an attempt to tackle the ball from an opponent is not so much skill display on terra firma as a battle of wills in mid air. Also, some of the frames are used repeatedly.
But in spite of all this, I thoroughly enjoyed the soccer matches.
What mainly got to me was the spirit of the players, their approach to the game. The I-refuse-to-give-up attitude is only to be expected, but I liked it nevertheless. Then there is the way in which rivalry between teams and players are depicted. In the matches towards the end of a soccer season, where the opponents are formidable and Jyoyo's dreams of holding aloft the cup are seriously threatened, sparks fly. But at the end of the match, after the whistle has blown and the dust has settled, the gestures of the characters reveal the mutual respect beneath all the rivalry.
There is also the element of unpredictability. Because of this, an overflow of adrenaline is almost inevitable. This is not the usual show where the side you support magically discover hitherto unknown skills with the ball and score away. If the figures on the score-board are not in favour of Jyoyo, and the referee is eying the clock and putting the whistle to his mouth, it is reason enough for fans of Jyoyo to panic. And even though this was just an anime featuring - not even professional soccer, but just - high school soccer, I found myself heartily supporting Jyoyo.
It was not just the soccer matches that had me hooked. A lot happens off the field as well. It becomes clear that before joining the Jyoyo team, Kyosuke had once quit soccer because he becomes fed up of being compared with his illustrious elder brother, whose skills are at such a level that it is he who makes Japan a force to be reckoned with in the world of football. And yet, it was with his brother that Kyosuke nurtured his own skills at soccer, and developed a passion for the game. Bit by bit, the relation between Kyosuke and his brother is revealed. The encounters between Kyosuke and Tsujiwaki Miki - captain of the girls soccer team - are hilarious, and much more.
Then there are the relations between the players. This is seen both on the field and off it, during serious matches and during practice matches.
As the series progresses, we see the characters change. Perhaps this is one of the most charming aspects of any show. For most of the characters, I don't think I could use the same adjective to describe them the way they are at the beginning and at the end.
The background score is excellent, especially during the matches. It is totally in sync with and reflective of the situation of Jyoyo. But then, I usually learn to appreciate the music after I have appreciated the anime. As for the animation, I am not complaining. The voice of the characters is excellent.
Overall rating: 8
Bottomline: A rather under-appreciated anime. But excellent as it is, a fair warning for followers of soccer played in the real world - you might not like it. This last paragraph has been added as an afterthought after remembering what happened after I recommended Hungry Heart to an EPL fanatic. I think he got as far as the tenth or eleventh episode before he dropped it in disgust. And for months after that, he never lost an opportunity to give me a tongue-lashing for convincing him to see such an anime.