Soccer has become a very popular sport in Japan, so it makes sense that they would produce a lot of soccer anime.

Japan’s strong performance at the 2022 World Cup will undoubtedly fuel greater interest in the sport. However, soccer (a.k.a. association football) has been growing in Japan since it was first introduced during the Meiji Era. The Tokyo Soccer Club was founded in 1917, and the predecessor to the Japan Football Association dates back to 1921.

Let’s take a look at some soccer anime series which score a lot of goals.

List of Best Soccer Anime

  1. Aoashi
  2. Days
  3. Captain Tusbasa
  4. Blue Lock
  5. Inazuma Eleven

Best Soccer Anime of All Time

1. Aoashi

Aoashi at Crunchyroll - Yugo Kobayashi, Shogakukan/ Aoashi Production Committee

The first anime on our list is a new seinen series with an interesting story. Aoashi (sometimes spelled Ao Ashi) features a middle school soccer player, Ashito Aoi, who becomes a candidate to play for a pro team.

At the beginning of the series, Aoi is the star of his school’s team in Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku. (His town is a rural place located a long way from Tokyo.) His talent attracts the attention of the coach of a youth team for Tokyo City Esperion FC.

Aoi goes from being the big fish in a small pond, to being just one of many players with the potential to eventually reach the top division of J-League soccer. But Aoi is stubborn and undisciplined, with an attitude. He has a lot of training and learning to do.

Aoashi started with a manga in 2015, which is still ongoing. The anime’s first season began in 2022.

(Crunchyroll) …  (Disney+)


DAYS at Crunchyroll - Takeshi Yasuda, Kodansha/ DAYS Production Committee

Tsukushi Tsukamoto joins his high school’s soccer club, despite knowing very little about the sport, in the slice-of-life sports comedy DAYS.

Tsukushi is not your typical shonen sports anime hero. He’s clumsy, bashful, apologetic, and frankly not good at soccer, at least initially. However, despite his status as a rookie nobody, he is determined to stick with it. What he lacks in athletic skill he makes up for with his willingness to go the extra mile.

As Tsukushi’s soccer skills improve, the series does get around to the typical shonen “aim to win the tournament” action found in many other sports anime shows.

However, what makes the series worth watching is the school comedy stuff. There’s a lot of entertaining interaction between Tsukushi and his teammates, as well as between him and other students.


3. Captain Tsubasa

Captain Tsubasa (2018) at Roku Channel - Yoichi Takahashi/ Shueisha/ Avex/ TV Tokyo

You can’t have a soccer anime list without Captain Tsubasa, one of the classics of the sports anime genre. Since 1981, soccer hero Tsubasa has appeared in multiple manga series, anime shows, anime movies, OVAs, light novels, and video games.

The 2018 anime reboot is considerably easier to find than the earlier versions, so we’ll concentrate on that one. However, I’ve heard that the older adaptations of Captain Tsubasa are worth watching as well.

The series follows a young soccer player with dreams of going to the World Cup. Early on in the series, Tsubasa meets Roberto, a Brazilian former pro footballer who becomes Tsubasa’s mentor and coach.

The 2018 series concentrates on Tsubasa’s growth from elementary school to middle school, as he goes up against rivals in various tournaments.

Other parts of the franchise feature Tsubasa leaving Japan to play pro soccer in other countries. If there’s a season three of the 2018 Captain Tsubasa, it might continue the story.

Captain Tsubasa started with a Shonen Jump manga in 1981. The manga was adapted into a 1983 anime series, followed by the 1993 Captain Tsubasa J anime series. When Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, Captain Tsubasa returned with Road to 2002.

(Roku Channel)  …..    (YouTube) …  (Amazon Prime Video)  …..  (Apple TV)

4. Blue Lock

Blue Lock at Crunchyroll - Muneyuki Kinjo, Yusuke Nomura, Kodansha / Blue Lock Production Committee

Most sports anime series promote the very Japanese values of good teamwork and working together. However, Blue Lock (a.k.a. BLUELOCK) goes the opposite direction.

In Blue Lock, Japan’s national soccer organization is absolutely determined to win the World Cup at any cost. To help them do this, they hire a weird and enigmatic coach who has developed an extreme training program called “Blue Lock.”

“Blue Lock” features grueling challenges designed to create one great, self-centered striker. The system eliminates all but the best. While initially players are able to team up, only one winner can ultimately win.

This odd combination of Squid Game survival and soccer is interesting, if you can wrap your head around the concept.

The Blue Lock manga started in 2018. The anime adaptation started in October 2022, and the first season should end in late March 2023. (It is still ongoing as I type this.)


5. Inazuma Eleven

Inazuma Eleven at Netflix Poland - Level-5/ FC Inazuma Eleven, TV Tokyo

Goalkeeper Mamoru Endo tries to prevent his struggling junior high school soccer club from being disbanded in Inazuma Eleven.

Naturally, Mamoru faces a lot of obstacles. First of all, the team doesn’t have enough members, so he must encourage new recruits to join. The team must also defeat a legendary opponent, and face other tough teams in tournament play.

Fortunately, Mamoru has Naruto-like levels of enthusiasm for the sport (it helps that Junko Takeuchi provides his voice).

The anime series is based on a video game, rather than a manga. That would explain the special power moves that the players have.

The Inazuma Eleven franchise began in 2008 with a series of video games. The first season of the series also began in 2008. The original anime series was followed by Inazuma Eleven GO in 2011, and Inuzuma Eleven: Ares in 2018. The Inazuma players go up against international teams in Inazuma Eleven: Orion no Kokuin in 2018.

(Amazon Prime Video)  .….  (Disney Now – Inazuma Eleven: Ares)  ….  (Netflix Poland)

Final Notes

Throughout this article, I have included weblinks so you can stream these anime series online. However, most of these are U.S.-based links. If you have trouble with these links in your region, you may want to consider a VPN, such as NordVPN.

Of course, these five series are not the only soccer anime shows available out there.  I also considered Farewell My Dear Cramer, Hungry Heart: Wild Striker, Forza! Hidemaru, and others. If your favorite soccer anime isn’t on my list, I apologize.

I hope this list encourages you to watch some soccer anime.

Leave a Reply