Everybody has a dream, and for Shou Kazamatsuri, that dream is simple: he wants to be the best soccer player he can possibly be. He’s the spirited leader of the Josui Junior High team and everyone looks up to him. In turn, he tries to keep the team together at any cost!
Is the best soccer, no, best sports manga I’ve ever read. I loved Prince of Tennis, and it was my top manga until I read Whistle! I remembered vividly almost crying when Tenipuri ended and how I felt so wide, happy inside for the series and characters. Of course, now there’s a sequel but I’ll wait until it concludes so I can binge read it.
Sports manga is one of my favourite genres, I get very invested in the characters and I love discovering more about these sports I don’t really pay attention to in real life.
Perhaps the reason I loved Whistle! is that it felt real. I know it’s silly, but Sho (the protagonist) is a young a boy that isn’t skilled, or talented at soccer. He doesn’t get magical powers, nor is he enough to bring a team to victory, much like Captain Tsubasa shows. Sho works hard, he cries and sweats, but he doesn’t give up. His one strong point is that he is stubborn, he loves soccer and he doesn’t ever give up.
I read some reviews that made me a bit livid when I read them. Calling Whistle! just like any other sports manga where Sho never loses is so fucking wrong I actually get angry. Very angry.
There’s a point in the manga, after Sho gets special train outside his school, and when he returns there’s a difference in his skill and his school mates who just play for fun. They don’t win matches just because Sho is there. A team is only as strong as its individual members are. One sole member can’t in real life lead to victory.
That isn’t something you see in other sports manga, or even in soccer. Captain Tsubasa made popular the whole “as long as you have one outstanding member and the rest are sub par, you can still do it”. Which is bullshit.
Whistle! in that regard, and a lot of others really, is a realistic sports manga. As I said, Sho has to work really hard, constantly fighting to improve and to get selected for teams and to get to play.
I’m trying not to spoiler, so I won’t, but I’ll say one of the things that impacted and desolated me was the ending. I cried. The manga had given me moments of angst, and pain, because Sho’s life isn’t easy.
From bullying to having to cope with his small size against bigger guys and relentlessly training. But Sho is a bright, happy young boy that lives for soccer, it’s his life and joy. So the ending comes up and I start crying and I feel so heart broken over it I can’t breathe or see clearly, and I can’t forget his face. What he said. His state. This was a Sho that I’d never seen and it hurt so much. I love Sho, I love everything he stands for, the way he tries his best, and when I think that’s his ending (and it gets an open ending which I’ve thought countless times could go this way or that way) I just feel so emotional.
I don’t know how to give my opinions and thoughts on things I truly love. It’s hard to put in words why something affected me so deeply I’d score them 5/5 (or 10/10 depending on the website) but this manga does indeed deserve my highest rating.
I’m a sparse person when it comes to giving 5/10, and 1’s too. Out of my almost 800 books in GoodReads, 20-30 are 5 stars. And I’m sure if I went to MyAnimeList I’d see something of the sort. I can’t give the maximum rate unless it’s something that affected me deeply. Sometimes positively, sometimes negatively, but unless it really wormed itself down inside me, I end up giving 4’s.
One thing that surprised me is that when I tried to check on other mangas by this same mangaka, which I do whenever I discover I liked their work, they…didn’t really so anything substantive before or after Whistle! So in a way, this is his magnum opus. And I can’t tell you how highly I view it.
If you’ve never read it, I really do beg you to do it. It starts slow and by the end it felt like that ending was because the mangaka couldn’t have continued, it would have gone down the circle jerk of “go here and win” which never happens in Whistle! It’s about Sho’s improvement as a person, as a player, but it never becomes a “victory” centric manga. It continues grounded to the characters, as we meet and get to know more about the past of the rest.
And in the end, it’s about how a small young boy called Sho who influenced a generation of players by existing, by playing next to them, by showing them that all you need to improve is neither talent nor skill, but perseverance.
My rating is of course: 5/5, 10/10. Perhaps even a 20/5, because after I finished, for three days whenever I remembered Whistle! I’d start crying. Just like that.
And even right now, my eyes are prickling because I’m still hangup on this manga, and it’s been at least five months since I last read it.
Happy readings everyone, and read this one! ಥ⌣ಥ
Have you heard about this manga before? Have you read it? If so, I’d love to know what you think of it!