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The anime that changed football forever: Captain Majid (Tsubasa)

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When I was young Superman and Batman didn’t matter, not to me, anyway – I only cared about Captain Majid (Tsubasa). The swashbuckling footballer with a monstrous right-foot.

His teammates and their special moves on the football pitch were like nothing else! I write this at a time, when Captain Majid, my childhood hero, has made a comeback.

You may relate to my story, especially, if you were a kid in the 80s and 90s, and also grew up in the Middle East. After all, in that part of the world, the lore of Captain Majid spread like wildfire.

So much so, that my siblings and I would convene in the TV room, 5 to 10 minutes before every screening of the show.

Tsubasa Oozora manga cover image
Captain Tsubasa (Child and Grown Up) | Creator: Yoichi Takahashi |  Fair Use (no copyright infringement intended)

The Japanese anime, Captain Tsubasa, had us hypnotised, except it was an Arabic dub. I can’t speak for the others but I had connected to the anime on a much deeper level.

The quick fix for me, when the TV show wasn’t on, was the Captain Majid video game. This way I could be Majid for as long I wanted and believe me, I loved it. I would spend hours on my Nintendo until I finished the game. Since I could never get enough, I bought the English spin-off, Captain Robin, as well!

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It was crazier as I grew up aspiring to be like Captain Majid and playing professional football. It was a perfect dream, my perfect dream, but I had to move, and the journey came to an end.

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I ended up in a country where football was a hobby at best. So,

the dream was over for good, but nothing could replace the Majid in me, nothing.

As I write this piece, I am honoured that it is about Captain Tsubasa. Even a fan like me never knew the far-reaches of the show’s influence, and how it took the world by storm.

The author, Yoichi Takahashi, inspired by the 1978 FIFA World Cup, wrote the manga. Little did he know of the impact his creation was going to have on Association Football, across the world. Today, the manga and anime are often cited as having popularised football in Japan.

Kazuyoshi Miura inspired Captain Tsubasa
Tsubasa character was influenced by Kazuyoshi Miura Norio Nakayama (CC BY SA 2.0)

Captain Tsubasa’s timeline and story mirror Takahashi’s own love for the sport. He adored Rivaldo, so he created a character, Rivaul, inspired by the Brazilian legend.

Yoichi grew a liking for European football and Tsubasa also moved from Sao Paulo to Barcelona.

Why Barcelona, you ask?

Well, Yoichi visited Camp Nou and fell in love with the stadium, FC Barcelona’s style of football, and of course, the El Clasico.

When Yoichi revisited the Camp Nou in 2016, he received a warm welcome by Barcelona’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu. Yet, his success did not stop there. Today, the top-tier footballing world and millions of fans cite the show as a big factor in the growth of the sport.

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Yoichi’s non-fictional approach to storytelling made his creation so relatable to kids. After all, Captain Tsubasa, was full of emotions and thrived off that drama.

An entire episode could consist of a single attack, with ample dialogue across that one scene. This was by far, one of the most unique and innovative things about the show, particularly back in those days.

Hence, Captain Majid’s footprint on sports anime cannot and should not go unnoticed. It proved that sport is a viable, hot and commercial topic for anime.

Yoichi Takahashi, Creator of Captain Tsubasa (Majid), with President of FC Barcelona
Yoichi Takahashi, Creator of Captain Tsubasa (Majid) with Josep Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona
Source: FC Barcelona
Fair Use (no copyright infringement intended)

Today, the anime is available in many languages. In fact, it still receives regular coverage in most parts of the world. That only reaffirms its popularity.

So much so that it has paved the way for other animes of similar genres too, such as Moero! Top Striker (Captain Rabeh).

With the new video game launching soon, there seems to no stopping it either. And with plans to write a new version, Majid is making another comeback. This time, with a refreshed version of the anime!

Over the course of this series, we will be sharing our thoughts and stories of Captain Majid. We are ready for more, but the real question is, are you?


Furqan is a marketing professional in the tech sector and an avid sports lover. He is a devout follower of cricket, football and tennis. You can follow him on Twitter.
For more football, visit Sportageous.

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