Inazuma Eleven is a football anime based on a role-playing video game series of the same name, developed by Level-5. It is the story of Endou Mamoru, a middle-school football player, and how his ragtag school football team tries to win the national tournament.
Endou Mamoru plays goalkeeper position and is absolutely fanatical about football, going so far as to play with elementary school kids when his own team is uninterested. The football club at Raimon Junior High consists of only a few members, not nearly enough to form a full team. However, when a mysterious student named Gouenji Shuuya transfers to their school, his world is flipped around as the first-ranked football team in all of Japan, Teikoku Academy, takes a sudden interest and challenges them to a match.
Teikoku Academy hasn’t lost a game in fifty years and thanks to their shady coach, Kageyama Reiji, they make sure than anyone who poses a threat is eliminated from the competition. Like Gouenji Shuuya, who dropped out of the national finals match against Teikoku when his little sister was hospitalized. But Endou is determined to win and Teikoku’s shady tactics aren’t going to frighten him. With the help of Gouenji, he pushes his mediocre team into getting better and hopefully winning the national Soccer Frontier.
So, basically, every sports anime ever. You’ve got the underdog protagonists, the bully rivals, some shady business going on in the background, a bunch of heartfelt speeches about teamwork, some betrayal, and a requirement for a healthy dose of skepticism – yup, ticked all the boxes.
What makes Inazuma Eleven truly special are the characters. Rich, fully developed characters with amazing backstories all slotted together in place. Everyone has their reasons for their actions and each one of them are so vibrantly different. From slightly naïve and fiercely determined Endou to the calculating and conflicted captain of Teikoku, the clash of personalities makes this anime shine.
This anime covers everything, from the sweet moments of friendship, to a little bit of one-sided romance to the sometimes-crazy storyline involving aliens, angels, demons and everything in between. But at its heart, it’s about a boy who loves football and his desire to show it to the world.
With brilliant animation and a great story, Inazuma Eleven has something for everyone. While it is somewhat predictable by virtue of being a sports anime, sometimes the familiar is better. There’s something about the underdogs pulling themselves to victory by sheer force of will that is both mesmerizing and satisfying.
Perhaps I’m biased. Inazuma Eleven is my favorite anime, after all.
Whether you like football, friendship, or a rather unhealthy amount of trash talk, Inazuma Eleven delivers. And with a rich and engaging story, you won’t be able to stop watching.
Rating: 5 Stars
By: Neha Upadhya (Medical Electronics, 4th year)
Designer: Nayana Bangaru (Medical Electronics, 3rd year)