“I Love Soccer”
What They Say:
A comedy manga, “Shonen Ashibe,” that follows the friendship between baby spotted seal Goma-chan and first-grade student Ashiya Ashibe. First serialized in 1988 and adapted to anime in 1991, the adorable Goma-chan created a massive following and a spotted seal boom. This spring, Goma-chan returns to “Tentere Anime.” A cute, pleasant story of Ashibe and Goma-chan and their unusual school and their neighbors. Sometimes endearing, sometimes bizarre, it’s a fun anime for the whole family!
As with any show that’s aimed at kids there’ll be some element of sports included with it, just as inspiration to help them be active. Shonen Ashibe has played with sports a few times before and has done some very enjoyable sports festival stuff as well. These kids can get competitive but it never gets into a really bad place where you cringe over how competitive they get. It’s hard to be that way sometimes when you’ve got Goma-chan on your team or cheering you on. With this episode, a small group of kids are brought out to see Omata Tamao, the “popular actress and model” who has gotten a role involving soccer and she’s opted to get everyone to teach her all about it.
The show starts with plenty of fun as the gang is all happy to help her out and they get into it well enough, first playing outside and then getting special permission to play inside when it starts to rain. But amid all of this we get a kid in a wheelchair that’s watching from a distance that ends up getting drawn in a bit when the ball rolls toward her. Mari, it’s revealed, has never walked in her life and we see the kids quickly taking to her after a little awkward stuff. It’s no surprise you have someone, Sakata for this, asking to try out the wheelchair as it’s kids’ natural curiosity. But where it takes a fun turn is when a “passing by famous soccer player” helps out with a bumper to put around the wheelchair so she can play proper with everyone. That leads to a whole lot of fun with the game across the board, whether with Omata doing her best and being all girlish in exaggerated form or Mari handling things really well in the wheelchair. Add in the adults and a lots of others and it becomes a big and fun celebratory match of sorts.
The show does what lots of kids shows do when introducing a character like Mari and it’s all done right. It’s a fun and upbeat piece with no weirdness, just a lot of kids excited to continue playing and having a good time, adapting to something that’s new and then it becoming just a part of the game. We don’t always get this kind of stuff in anime – it’s actually quite rare when you get down to it – so I’m glad that it was handled as well as it was and wish more shows that are aimed at older audiences would start expanding outside of the narrow window that they work within.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll