MS 6

Japan’s national soccer team floundered through the first several decades of its existence before finally earning its first World Cup berth in 1998. Since then the squad has shown steady improvement, with an impressive performance in South Africa in 2010 that saw it reach the Round of 16.

But while expectations and confidence are both running high, that doesn’t mean Japanese soccer fans don’t wish there countrymen could receive a little help from the world of comics and animation, as shown in a poll asking which manga characters they wish were a part of Japan’s team competing in Brazil.

The survey, conducted by digital bookseller Ebook Japan, garnered 729 responses. Let’s take a look at Japan’s 2-D representatives, broken down by the number one, two, and three choices for each position.

#3 – Genzo Wakabayashi

Wakabayashi is the first of several characters from Captain Tsubasa, Japan’s most popular soccer manga which has been running on and off since 1981.

#2 – Monkey D. Luffy

MS 2

While the main character of pirate saga One Piece can’t match the size of most professional soccer players, Monkey’s ability to stretch his limbs at will would be a great asset in blocking the opposing team’s shots on goal.

#1 – Nurikabe

MS 1

Hailing from long-running light-hearted horror series Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro, wall-shaped monster Nurikabe received more votes than any other single character, thanks to his net-filling stature and physique.

#3 – Ryo Ishizaki

Ishizaki is the second cast member from Captain Tsubasa to make the list.

#2 – Dio Brando

MS 4

It’s not just Dio’s lanky Hirohiko Araki-penned limbs that would prove useful in befuddling opposing strikers, but also the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures villain’s ability to stop time (and presumably hook his teammates up with some post-game coffee).

#1 – Titan

MS 3

Respondents didn’t specify which of Attack on Titan’s giants they were voting for, and while the obvious choice would be the skinless 60-meter Colossal Titan that’s become the mascot for the series, we think the nod should go to the more compact yet athletic Armored Titan.

#3 – Kazuya Takasugi

Takasugi is the sole delegate from soccer manga Our Field, which was published from 1992 to 1998.

#2 – Seijuro Akashi

MS 5

Given that he’s a major character in Kuroko’s Basketball, we’re not sure what Akashi is doing getting picked to play the beautiful game. We suppose his ultra-competitiveness and ability to unnerve opponents with his freaky eyes might make him a worthy addition to the team, though.

#1 – Tsubasa Ozora

MS 6

Captain Tsubasa himself received more votes than any character other than Nurikabe, officially making him the manga world’s most respected human soccer star.

#3 – Conan Edogawa

Look, we understand that professional sports isn’t all about physical attributes, and that a successful athlete needs a sharp mind as much as he needs a strong body. We still say that the protagonist of Great Detective Conan, intelligent as he may be, is a poor choice here, because child-sized Conan’s short legs mean he’s going to tire himself out twice as fast as anyone else running around the field.

#2 – Shungen Tanaka

MS 7

Largely unknown to Western fans, Tanaka was a character in soccer manga Shoot, which was popular enough in Japan to last for 13 years and 33 collected volumes.

#1 – Sanji

MS 8

One Piece’s gourmet chef is a master of kick-based martial arts, which should translate into success on the soccer field. His nicotine addiction would probably present a problem, though, as we’re pretty sure smoking on the pitch would be at least a yellow card.

#3 – Zhuge Liang

The only character who was also an actual historical figure, wise statesman and brilliant strategist Zhuge Liang shows up in the manga Sangokushi, which is set during China’s Three Kingdoms era.

#2 – Kankichi Ryotsu

MS 9

We’re not sure how Ryotsu got on the list, other than because he’s the star of mega-popular police story/gag comedy Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo. Lazy, avaricious, and short-sighted, Ryotsu can be counted on when the chips are really down, though, so he might be just the guy to organize a come-from-behind victory.

#1 – Tatsumi Takashi

MS 10

On the other hand, there’s no questioning the credentials of Tatsumi Takashi, who in the manga Giant Killing has proven himself to be not only a talented professional soccer player, but capable of turning around both amateur and pro teams as their coach.

A few problems jump out right away, though. For example, are monsters like Nurikabe and the Titans allowed to compete under FIFA rules? We’re not sure if Dio would be eligible for the team either, since he’s not a Japanese citizen. Neither is Zhuge Liang, whose status is further complicated by the fact that he’s been dead for almost 1,800 years. Monkey and Sanji also raise questions, since we’re not sure Japan even exists in the One Piece world.

Assuming these issues can be sorted out, though, we have to admit, Team Manga Japan looks like a formidable lineup, and would stand a solid chance of going all the way at the World Cup.

Source: Niconico News
Top image: Sukinet
Insert images: Adult Swim, Rakuten, Wikia, Anime Vice, Fanpop, Neoapo, WordPress, WP JP Matome, Exblog