While other schools in Japan compete for the title of being the best soccer team in the country, Raimon Middle School's soccer club, Inazuma Eleven, struggles to rise from the verge of being disbanded. The grandson of Inazuma Eleven's first generation goalkeeper and captain of the team, Mamoru Endou, takes the challenge of kicking the long neglected club back into shape. To do this, he'll need a little help and more than a little luck.
Mamoru Endou finds hope in the hands of Shuuya Gouenji, a brilliant young player who has given up on soccer. Mamoru is determined to get Shuuya and other new recruits to join his team, no matter what the cost. Is his passion and determination enough to treat the ailing club? Or is there no more hope for the team?
Inazuma Eleven first started out as a sports role-playing game for the Nintendo DS. The series has had numerous sequels since then. The manga was first published in the Shogakukan CoroCoro Comic and the anime series was produced by game developer Level-5 along with TV Tokyo and OLM. The anime aired in numerous countries around Asia and Europe. Aside from the anime, manga and video games, there is also an animated film and guidebooks for the series.
I recently had the pleasure of watching Inazuma Eleven for a third time and I can safely say it is still as evergreen and exciting as I found it the first and the second time I watched it.
Presented by Oriental Light & Magic, the studio that gave us Pokemon, Inazuma Eleven has been a huge success in Japan and several other countries and it has good reasons for so.
The story is centered around a young and energetic football freak, Endou Mamoru, who is trying to gather members for the local school football team; The Raimon Junior High. With his charismatic personality and never-giving
up spirit, Endou with the help of a few soccer buddies manages to find eleven players to play for the club and to aim for the Football Frontier Tournament. Football Frontier is a competition where all the junior high schools across the nation participate in order to achieve the number one position in the whole country. But before they could even participate in the tournament, they are pit against the famous Teikoku Academy, which is currently the best in the nation and have been winning the tournament for 40 successive years. Things do not go as planned however for Raimon as they are completely overpowered by Teikoku in all departments of the game. Shoot after shoot, goals after goals Raimon players get battered brutally with an overwhelming margin of 20 goals to nil as Endou Mamoru could only watch his friends lying helplessly not able to stand across the field. As everything seems over before it began for Raimon, an unexpected twist occurs as Gouenji Shuuya, the talented striker who swept away all his opponents single-handedly in the previous Football Frontier Tournament while still just being a freshman, takes the field wearing a Raimon unifrom. It seems that Teikoku was waiting all along for him to take the field and as he does an inspired Endou Mamoru catches the ball cleanly hit by Teikoku and throws it straight at Gouenji who then with this amazing shoot makes the goal. Teikoku then abandon the game as they got what they had come for, and thus resulting in a victory for Raimon Junior High. This is the beginning of the adventures that await Raimon and Endou Mamoru in his future.
The are three different arcs in the show - The Football Frontier arc, The Aliea Academy arc and the Football Frontier International arc.
(i) Football Frontier arc: Follows the journey of Raimon Junior High as they take on the local school teams to enter the competition and play against the best of the nation and their journey to the top.
(ii) Aliea Academy arc: Follows quickly after the Football Frontier Final against Zeus Academy as various schools across the nations including Raimon Junior High is destroyed supposedly by "Aliens" who say to come from the far planet of Aliea as the messengers of Aliea Academy. They use a Soccer battle as the means to conquer the Earth. There are five teams in Aliea Academy; Gemini Storm, the second rank team that are the first to arrive. Epsilon (Also play as Epsilon Remastered in the later episodes), the first rank team and the rest are Diamond Dust, Prominence and Genesis which is led by Hiroto, are the three master rank teams.
(iii) Football Frontier International arc: Begins after the victory of Raimon against the Aliea Academy's Genesis and players around the country are gathered to form the Inazuma Japan which is the national team of Japan. The arc follows their journey as they progress through the Asian preliminaries and face the teams from all over the world.
The characters play a pivotal role in the series as is the case in every anime, and each of them have their own unique personality and appeal.
Gouenji Shuuya: The cool-headed striker with great potential and also known as "The Flame Striker."
Endou Mamoru: The Goalkeeper and the protagonist of the series. He is also the Captain of Raimon Junior High.
Kidou Yuuto: The brains and the genius strategist of the field. He previously was the Captain of the Teikoku Academy but now is an irreplaceble addition to Raimon Junior High.
These are just the main three characters of the team and there is the rest of the team as well consisting of Kazemaru, Someoka, Handa, Max, Kabeyama, Shourin along with several other members that join Raimon in the future.
Endou Daisuke is the grandfather and a former soccer player-cum-goalkeeper for the Japan National team and it is he whom Endou looks upon as an inspiration and decides to be a goalkeeper himself.
Kageyama Reiji is the main antagonist of the show. Kageyama's father was once hailed as the future of Japanese football and that is before when a group of exceptionally talented players gathered by Endou Daisuke overpower him and he is descended into darkness. This leaves a huge mark on a then young Kageyama as he grows deep hatred for soccer in his heart and vows to use any shrewd means possible to take his revenge and to sit on top of the soccer world. He is the owner of the Teikoku Academy and is mostly called as "Commander" by Kidou Yuuto and the rest of his players. It was him that taught Kidou his soccer and made him grow up to be a prodigy. However the sense of self-righteouness earned by playing against Endou and his friends, Kidou vows to leave Teikoku and follow the right path and to play his own soccer. It's pretty ironic actually that the villain whom you will hate for the most of the show then turns good later in the show in what was an absolutely heart-wrenching episode to say the least. I could not hold back my tears at that point and most likely you won't be as well.
The sound aspect of Inazuma Eleven is one of its strongest assets. The soundtracks used between the episodes are brilliant and it won't be an exaggeration for me to say that Inazuma Eleven has one of the best set of soundtracks in anime. Furthermore, it also boasts of six top-class openings performed by T-Pistonz + KMC. Two of my favorite top 5 anime openings are from the show. They're simply classic. The ending themes vary from person to person as they're all aimed differently for both boys and girls. The voice acting again in this anime is top-notch. A lot of budget was put into this and it clearly verifies it by the class of the voice actors. Each of them is a pro and and you're most likely to find them in any other anime you see. One of the main example is the voice of Endou, which is the same voice actor popular in his role for Naruto in the Naruto franchise.
The artwork is done well throughout the series and has a simple characteristic look aimed at the teens so nothing too special about them. The football while in a soccer match is done neatly and there is no use of CGI and everything is kept simple which is the best way. The "Hissatsu Techniques" as well are drawn beautifully and never under-achieves.
Inazuma Eleven is like a dose of childhood to me, I can keep watching this numerous times and it won't disappoint me in a slight way. If you're a football/soccer freak like me then this series is a must see, even if you're not then as well I'd recommend you to watch it. It's very exciting throughout and with the addition of the cool Hissatsu moves it only adds its reputation and for me it cements its position as one of the best sport anime out there.
Inazuma Eleven is what you would expect from a kids' sport Anime. Full of sparks and over-the-top flashy moves, but little to none substance or story depth. I'm totally not against the characters having super powers, but when this overused feature starts damaging the actually good on-going action, it doesn't work for me. The characters can apparently freeze time or increase the length of the soccer/football field so they can do one of their signature techniques (which makes no sense by the way, it just alter how strong the shoot will be, apart from some few dribble moves). I was also bothered by the repetitive
formula that the anime kept after the first arc. After awhile, the final scores of the matches became futile as we all knew our heroes would emerge triumphant. I found myself urging for something unexpected to happen, but everything was just painfully predictable.
The Anime, however, kept me insterested into it because of how amusingly absurd it was. I also enjoy this touring around style, so I got that going for me.
In December of 2015, I decided to pick a bunch of non- seasonal anime that I wanted to watch alongside the Winter 16 anime season. One of these series was Inazuma Eleven.
Now I went into this anime with very low expectations due to the fact that I don't like sports that much plus some of my least favourite sports are football, boxing volleyball and baseball. So I was expected to hate this anime because of it. As again I don't like sports that much and honestly I was expecting to kinda hate this anime. Was I wrong in my personal judgement or I am right?
story in Inazuma Eleven follows a cheerful goalkeeper captain named Endou Mamoru who is looking for members to join the Raimon Soccer Club. However due to Raimon Soccer Club only having 6 players the student body council president named Natsumi threatens the Raimon Soccer Club by disbandment if they wont win a game by Teikoku Gakuen as well getting enough players. When Raimon recruited enough players they faced off with Teikoku Gakuen however Raimon Soccer were competently outclassed. When all hope was lost at the very last second a striker named Gouenji helps the Raimon team to score a point using a powerful hissatsu technique called Fire Tornado. Shocked about the power Teikoku Gakuen forfeits the match where Raimon Soccer Club won by default. This gives Endou along with the Raimon Soccer members hope that they will one day win the Football Frontier. From there Endou along with the Raimon Soccer members would aimed to become the best soccer time like no other team ever was.
Inazuma Eleven is split up into three main arcs as well as some subplots that take place during the main arcs.
Football Frontier Arc (EP1-26)
Ailea Academy Arc (EP27-EP65)
Football Frontier International Arc (EP66-127 End)
Honestly, the story isn't the strongest part of Inazuma Eleven. I am going to be real honest it's one of its weaker parts of the story especially in the earlier episodes of the first arc which I found to be cheesy at times but at the same time, I just can't help to really get invested by it.
The first half it execution. In my opinion, you can make even the most boring sounding setups really good if you can get the execution just right and Inazuma Eleven just that. Honestly, I don't care if the sport is realistic or not because for I only care about the execution more than anything else
The other half are the subplots and in my opinion, they are some best subplots I have ever seen in any anime. They are just really handled well, and they add life to the characters which prevent them from being boring and generic shounen characters.
All of the arcs were all very enjoyable to watch and they well directed because each arc knows to use its content really well.
The show explores the theme for friendship, teamwork, value as well as overcoming your fears and weaknesses and this show manages to execute them perfectly.
I really like the story for this one even though it’s on the little basic side for the most part. I don't think much more was needed because the execution of it was so well handled specially in seasons 2 and 3 where the writers decided to go all out.
Great job director Katsuhito Akiyama.
The characters are what really brings this show together because like with the story it is the execution was great.
First, we have Endou Mamoru who is our main captain for the Raimon and later on Inazuma Japan as well as being the main goalkeeper for the team.
Endou starts off as a goofy and kinda hot-headed protestant who has a passion for football but honestly as the series progresses he developed from a less goofy hot-headed main protagonist to a very determined and more responsible captain for the team. I actually adore this character because he is a well-developed character and a lovable one.
I was really impressed with Endou as a who and that's why I adore him and he's one of my favourite’s characters in the show, to be honest.
Next up we have our main striker for Raimon Gouenji Shuuya
Now like Endou he has a strong passion for football but unlike Endou, he's much calmer but self-centred but as the series progresses he much friendly to the team as having massive character development. Not to mention his subplot and backstory was just great and well told.
Overall Gouenji is a great character on he’s own right.
Lastly, we have Kidou Yuuto who is the brains and strategist player for Raimon who is formerly the Captain of the Teikoku Academy but now is an irreplaceable addition to Raimon Junior High. I can only say this much to this character because he is a walking spoiler character which he's side plot. Besides the one that I just mentioned because it happens early on the story anyway.
All I can say about Kidou is he is an amazing character and he is one of the few complex characters.
The rest of the characters are hit or mess depending on your tastes.
For me, most of the characters were great because they had they own subplots which are well written for the most part and they fun to watch as well as being well developed. Sure there were a few miss characters but least they didn't damage the show for me.
Then we have what is easily my favourite characters in Inazuma Eleven. Kazemaru Ichirouta.
I honestly have grown attached with this because I just really liked how his very friendly as well as being competitive player not to mention I really adore his character design.
In my opinion, Kazemaru is probably the most realistic character in this show personality wise.
Overall the characters were awesome.
Visually Inazuma Eleven is pretty good.
The art of Inazuma Eleven is fresh and surprised greatly because I like the character designs for the most because they feel fresh and original.
One thing that I liked that is the use of colour for each arc representing the mood and the tone of each arc.
The football frontier arc has bright colour feel it to it but not full colourful while the Aliea Academy arc has a more depressing feel to it. Then we have the football frontier arc international arc which has more modern sports anime feel to it because of the colour usage and the art, in general, has greatly improved in terms of quality.
The animation was surprising really good, and it stays consistent all the thought and when they players use hissatsu techniques its freaking amazing of how well animated they all are. Sure at times can use re-use the hissatsu animation but for a show like this, I didn't really bother me too much because they are amazingly animated.
Also the character designs, for the most part, were great and unique.
Sure there were a few questionable ones, but they didn't really bother me too much.
This is by definitely Oriental Light and Magic finest work in terms of art and animation especially in season 3 (Football Frontier International Arc) where it looks absolutely beautiful at times putting some of the recent anime to shame at times.
Overall the visuals were great.
The first time that I listened to the OST I personally found it lacklustre but over time I started getting used to it and I ended up completely loving the OST because how amazing it was.
Hell, some of the tracks in Inazuma Eleven are emotional and just plain epic.
Notable tracks include.
Teikoku Gakuen Theme Empire Gakuen came!
Mortal combat with the empire Gakuen
All of the Opening and Endings themes are amazing.
My favourite openings and endings in Inazuma Eleven are opening four and ending 1 because they fit very well with each other like the opening 4 adds hype for that arc while ending 1 closes that arc perfectly.
The Japanese audio for the series was great, and the voice actors were well acted.
Notable Seiyuu performance goes to Junko Takeuchi as Endou Mamarou, Hiroyuki Yoshino as Kidou Yuuto, Sanae Kobayashi as Natsumi Raimon, Rie Kugimiya aka (Tsundere Queen) as Toramaru Utsunomiya, Yuki Kaji as Kazuya Ichinose and Nishigaki, Yuka as Kazemaru Ichirouta.
There's also an English dub. Please don't watch the English dub it's really bad. I watch the dub for this on Nintendo's anime channel just to see how it is and it was just awful. Not only the voices were bad but the audio quality itself is bad plus the story and characters development were butchered to all hell.
All of the characters have different names, and they were really bad on that and the final nail of the coffin for this dub is the show cuts off after season 2 leaving you with an uncompleted story.
I only watched the first 2 episodes for the dub for this I dropped it half way in the episode because the voices were just so freaking horrible to listen plus the voice actors had no emotion with the roles whatsoever.
So there really no reason to watch Inazuma Eleven dubbed, and I won't take any points away because it's honestly hard to find an Inazuma Eleven dub nowadays let alone good quality.
Overall besides what I said about the dub the I really love the OST, Openings, Endings and voice acting for the original Japanese audio
Inazuma Eleven might just be the anime that I realize I judged this too early.
Am being really honest when I say that my opinions for this anime went from basically is just another mediocre sports anime to oh my god l freaking this anime so much!!!
Seriously this went being something that I will hate to something that I will love, and it impressed me in so many ways that I will never think possible with a sports anime let alone a kid’s anime.
This is just an awesome anime that I barely speak my praises enough. The story, the characters, the animation the OST, the openings the endings and the voice acting were all just great. I know it could easily have flopped, but execution for everything is so great.
If you're looking for a great sports anime that is entertaining and has a strong character cast I recommend Inazuma Eleven. It was a great series that I will forever love until the end of time
Final Score 9/10