Ashita e Free Kick
Released Year : April 14, 1992 to April 24, 1993
No of Episodes : 52
Genre : Sports
Plot : Shun Godai is a young boy who likes soccer. But his grandfather, a successful businessman, want his grandson to follow his path...
Our Review : Although I dislike sports anime, I watched this series back when my tastes were not that clear yet. So, I happen to have a good picture of what this series is all about. Since it is quite famous in my country and no one bothered making a review about it, I might as well add one myself. Off we go!
ART & SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Nothing great. Graphics are dated but easily bearable, voice acting was low-toned but nice, music themes were nothing great. There are no weird-shaped clothes or buildings and the stock characters are simply nice to stare. Everything feels quite generic but it is still above average for never going too far or showing something too stupid. The quality remains in logical levels and hardly exargerates during the football matches.
STORY SECTION: 7/10 [Not just about kicking a ball.]
- Well, you can pretty much guess what the main theme is all about. Football! The protagonist is the son of a famous player, joins a local team and starts aiming for the top. And as you can guess, he gets pretty high. Nothing original here.
- The good part about the story is the genre mixing. Although a sports anime at its core, it mixes several elements of slice-of-life, romance, drama and coming-of-age. And if you add some special football techniques with a catchy name and personal rivalries, you can even say it has fighting shonen elements in it.
- For a sports anime, it has a lovely pace of plot. Although not fast, it is presented in a likable way and makes you forget all the dead time. Almost all episodes move the story forward. And there are several secondary stories, like meeting new people during a trip, talking about the pasts of someone’s and participating in house chores, festivals and leisure moments. Unlike most series of its kind, everything does not revolve around the main sport; in this case football. It is more about the character interactions than kicking a ball. Nice!
- It does provide a believable growth grid. You really do feel that the characters become better players or generally change as the story progresses. On the other hand, several events are very convenient to be considered “accidental”. And all those “special techniques” like flying in the air like an albatross and making the ball spin in reverse and feigning its trajectory are cool but definitely not convincing.
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10 [Stock; but of good quality.]
- Since it is a character-driven story, the cast deserves the same mark as the story. On first sight, they appear to be stock characters found in almost every sports and slice-of-life anime. No one is really original or that great. Still, if you consider the fact that most secondary characters have at least one episode dedicated to them and that they change as the story progresses, you do get to like them, despite their commonness.
- The leading male character is a very kind and dense-up-in-there youth. He is so gentle and calm that you almost want to bitch-slap him. Beautiful girls who obviously dig him swarm him but he does nothing about it. Not even the usual wussy-leading-harem-male-character attitude. But as his personal drama with his father unfolds and learns all those nifty techniques and cheers the people around him, you actually get to like him. He is way better than those terrible idealistic / idiotic protagonists who scream, yell and train non-stop in their respective fascination over a sport.
- The secondary cast is huge and has much variety. We have several young football players, who either play for sport / to prove themselves / to surpass a rival. A female volleyball team provides most girls in the series and a really subtle erotic tension between them and the football boys. Quite realistic, isn’t it?
- There are others, such the leading male’s best friend who has a problem with his legs and is a brilliant architect. And relatives in high positions. And even some sinister plotting by corporation suits. What more to ask for such a series?
- Down to it, I liked them for not being too extreme. They are not just neurotic buffoons, as in most shonen. And they are not just idle idiots who stare at the sky with stars in their eyes, as in most slice-of-life. Standing in the middle of these two ends really makes them likable.
VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Definitely not famous and forgotten by most. Its likable characters and genre mixing provide a good chance of rewatchability bu then again these sports anime all look so alike with each other.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 6/10
Not great and yet not just about football. It is an ok watch if you want to relax before moving to something better.
Will you stop smiling and just kiss her? Come on; we all know she’ll like it… Oh, crap, the main story picked up again… A football match!