Captain Tsubasa

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
My foot ball is my best friend!

Captain Tsubasa is pretty much one of the most famous and popular 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 football as a career, such as Alessandro del Piero, Zinedine Zidane, Francesco Totti, and Fernando Torres. This led the Japanese football 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 80's and early 90's.

It started being marketed as a Shonen manga, published at Shonen Jump from the start of its run up until the early 200'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 football 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 cup. 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[when?] this sports classic is still ongoing, from 1981 to the present days.

  • Captain Tsubasa—37 Volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: World Youth—18 Volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Road to 2002—15 Volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Golden 23—12 Volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Gekitouhen in Calcio—2 Volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa: En la Liga—Ongoing, 5 Volumes as of 2012.

In 2002 an Spiritual Successor was released called Hungry heart.

No relationship to Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.

Tropes used in Captain Tsubasa include:
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Road to 2002 animated adaptation, 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 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. 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, tho, 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.
  • Always Someone Better: Several as well, but most notably Tsubasa, Wakabayashi, Schneider and Roberto.
  • 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.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Ishizaki, Jito, maybe Tsubasa himself.
  • Bokukko --> Shorttank: Sanae.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Aoi.
  • 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 bitch-slapped on the courts for their arrogance.
  • Calling Your Attacks
  • 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 more aware of it, to the point of standing up for her against her Stalker with a Crush; the anime is more subtle.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • 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
    • 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 well.
  • Chick Magnet: 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).
  • Combination Attack: Twin Shots.
  • Cool Big Sis: Sanae, towards Kumi. Yukari, towards Sanae herself.
  • 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) 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 Mushashi has Yayoi, who is ship teased very heavily 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.
  • 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: 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.
  • Emotionless Girl --> Defrosting Ice Queen: Santana and Stefan Levin are male versions.
  • Expy: By the bushel. Juan Díaz is pretty much a teenaged Maradona. Rivaúl is expy of Rivaldo. Van Saal is Van Gaal. Callusias is Casillas. Dammmit, every player that is not a main character is an expy of some important player.
  • 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.
    • Also 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 contender 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.
  • Hachimaki: Proudly worn by Matsuyama Hikaru and the Furano players. All were made by Matsuyama's girlfriend Yoshiko.
  • Hot-Blooded: Wakayabashi, Hyuga, Kaltz, Shingo.
  • Hot Shounen Mom: Natsuko, though she *does* look her age. Also, Misugi's mother. Sanae is in her way to become one, since in the current manga she's pregnant.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 approbatory by his father to prove himself. Also, Nitta also takes up karate to improve his skills in the Road to 2002 series.
  • Ill Boy: Jun Misugi is a male example, who's prone to Hollywood Heart Attacks, up until the World Youth saga.
  • Inner Monologue: Sometimes with slow-motion.
  • Invincible Hero: Tsubasa doesn't really lose very much. The two or three times he loses, he recovers almost immediately.
  • Ironic Echo: On the Sao Paulo vs Flamengo match, Tsubasa deliberately falls on one of Santana's tackle to get a good kick-off 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.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Kumi, and eventually Kanda.
  • Japanese Sibling Terminology: Since she's very bossy and acts like an older sister, Sanae is nicknamed "Anego" ("Older Sister") by the Nankatsu kids. They drop it later and refer to her as "Manager", when she officially becomes the Team Mom of the team. In Tsubasa's case, he resorts to call her "Sanae-chan" ever since he finds out; OTOH, her underclassman Kumi calls her "Sanae-sempai", and her best friend Yukari merely calls her "Sanae".
  • 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 does take its time to show Tsubasa showing affection towards Sanae, and consequently developing their relationship.
    • Not to mention, while the hook-up itself is rushed, it's also 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.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Lonely Rich Kid: In the manga, El Si Pierre joined the French soccer team to stop being one of these. Mark Owairan also did likewise.
  • Long Runners: Has run from 1980 until these days... almost uninterrupted.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Or emotionally dead, like in Stefan Levin's case.
  • Meganekko: Machiko from the Furano team, though she's more outspoken than the standard.
  • 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.
  • 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 about it and raced against the clock to catch her before her flight took off. He succeeded, so cue the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
    • 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 to 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, Rivaldo + Raúl = Rivaul.
  • Only Six Faces: Several character designs are very, very similar. Seriously, sometimes Misugi and Matsuyama look pretty much like twin brothers.
  • 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 professionally ever since he was around 10. Also, Hyuga's mother.
    • Averted but justified with Misugi's mother, who borders on My Beloved Smother but you still feel 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Aoi Shingo.
  • 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, Natureza... yeah, this happens a lot among the Latin American players.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shrinking Violet: Yoshiko Fujisawa. Yuzo Morisaki is a male example... and one of the few who are not Butt Monkeys.
  • The Strategist: Misugi.
  • Street Urchin: Ricardo Espadas's Freudian Excuse is his and his friends' 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.
    • Also, the very calm and cool but also honor-bound Jun Misugi.
    • Arguably, El Si Pierre.
  • Team Dad: Roberto, Kira, Furuoya. 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.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Hyuga is the Performer, Tsubasa is the Technician.
  • Those Two Guys: Tamotsu and Takai, the two cheerleaders who were often subjected to Sanae's temper tantrums. They level up with time and reappear as assistants in the Golden 23 series
  • 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 adverted in the manga, especially in the Road to 2002 manga series when both Tsubasa and Hyuga needs translators when they went 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.
  • 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, though. 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.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Kumi, who is in love with Tsubasa but lets him go willingly so he can have Sanae, the girl he loves.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Sanae, who even marries Tsubasa and has a child with him!.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ishizaki and Urabe.
  • Volleying Insults: Ishizaki and the Tachibana twins.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: The series breathes and eats this trope, with a side of You Fail Physics Forever.
  • The White Prince: Jun Misugi, El Si Pierre, Mark Owairan. The latter is a literal prince.
  • The Worf Barrage: Hernandez, Muller, Espadas, Salinas. Always happens when the opponent's goalkeeper has a name.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Yoshiko, Yayoi, Hyuga's unnamed mother, Natsuko. Sanae grows into one in the manga, but in the TV series she's more tempery so she doesn't fully qualify.
    • Considering how deferent and devoted he is to his friends and family, Taro Misaki is one of the rare male examples.