Much to the delight of seinen and sports manga fans, the Japanese manga series “Ao Ashi,” which is written and illustrated by Yugo Kobayashi, is being turned into a TV anime adaptation of the same name.

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The serialized soccer manga follows a young, up-and-coming soccer player, Ashito Aoi, from a small town in Japan as he follows his dreams. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about the manga and the new anime show — including the cast, characters, and storyline — before the series’ upcoming release.

Release Date of the Ao Ashi Anime

For those eagerly awaiting the new “Ao Ashi” anime series, you don’t have much longer to wait. The series, which was first announced at the end of May 2021, will premiere on Japanese TV in April 2022.

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To hold you over for the next few months, you can check out the teaser video below. The trailer promises plenty of sports drama and a lot of soccer action on the field. 

Where Can You Watch the Ao Ashi Anime?

Now that we know when the soccer anime “Ao Ashi” will premiere, you’re probably wondering where you can watch it. This action-packed new series will air on NHK-E.

NHK-E programming is available on cable TV, via satellite broadcasting, and streaming using a free app.

Also, if you want to watch “Ao Ashi” in areas where it isn’t easy to access NHK-E, be sure to check out Crunchyroll, the world’s largest collection of streaming anime, as the series will be available there. 

You can stream “Ao Ashi” or any other number of anime series using your computer, mobile phone, gaming console, or other streaming devices. The platform also makes anime episodes available just one hour after they’ve aired in Japan.

Who Will Produce the Ao Ashi Anime?

The “Ao Ashi” anime TV series is produced and created by Production I.G. This Japanese animation studio, based in Tokyo, was founded by producer Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and character designer Takayuki Goto in the late 1980s. (In fact, the “I.G.” comes from the founders’ last names.)

Production I.G. is a stalwart in the animated world, having created a number of well-known anime series, original video animations, and movies. The studio is also involved in video game design and development and music publishing and management.

The anime studio is known for works like “Ghost in the Shell,” “Attack on Titan,” “FLCL,” “Usagi Drop,” “Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War,” and “Haikyuu.” In the video game world, it’s worked on games like Namco Tales Studio’s “Tales of Symphonia,” doing everything from developing intros and cut scenes to creating artwork.

What Is Ao Ashi About?

Many manga readers love the “Ao Ashi” series, which launched in Shogakukan’s Weekly Big Comic Spirits magazine in early 2015. Since then, it was nominated for the 10th Manga Taisho awards in 2017 and won the Best General Manga award at the 65th annual Shogakukan Manga Awards in 2020.

Twenty-six volumes of the series have been published as of mid-November 2021. More than 9 million copies of its volumes have been printed.

The story, based on an original concept by Naohiko Ueno, focuses on promising young soccer player Ashito Aoi, who lives in Ehime prefecture on the island of Shikoku. The third-year middle school student is an inexperienced player but shows great potential. He dreams of one day becoming a professional player. However, as he hopes to garner the attention of high-profile teams and scouts that can help him realize this dream, he causes his team’s elimination from an important tournament.

Despite this, Ashito catches the eye of Tatsuya Fukuda, a J Youth League coach working with the fictional Tokyo City Esperion FC. The coach invites Ashito to tryouts in the city. From there, he makes the team and the series follows him as he moves through the J Youth League and develops his soccer skills.

Ao Ashi Poster

Ao Ashi Main Characters

Now that you know when and where you can catch the new “Ao Ashi” anime, here’s everything you need to know about the characters from the series:

  • Ashito Aoi: Voiced by Kouki Osuzu, the entire series centers on this primary character, a young soccer player who’s dreaming big. After a major disappointment — he causes his team to get eliminated from an important tournament — he manages to get noticed by a J Youth League team anyway and gets a shot to follow his dream. The series follows him during his rise to playing for the Tokyo City Esperion FC’s youth team.

  • Tatsuya Fukuda: Voiced by Chikahiro Kobayashi, Tatsuya is the coach of Tokyo City Esperion FC’s youth football team. He’s also the person who saw the potential in Ashito as a player and recruited him to join the team. He’s a former professional player who started playing for Esperion FC when he was 18. From there, the former midfielder went overseas, signing with Sabadell FC in Spain’s La Liga division at 23.

  • Hana Ichijo: Voiced by Maki Kawase, Hana is the younger stepsister of coach Tatsuya Fukuda. She is also a first-year student at Tokyo City Esperion’s school division. She dreams of becoming a doctor and helps out with the team, usually by making meal plans for the players. In the manga, she also has feelings for Ashito, which seems to be reciprocated.

  • Eisaku Otomo: Voiced by Tatsumaru Tachibana, this supporting character in the series is a teammate of Ashito’s. Eisaku is a first-year student playing midfield for Esperion FC’s youth team. He’s sleight and short with a shock of dark green hair shaved on the sides but long at the top. Although he doesn’t come across as very tough, he’s known for having a lot of mental fortitude while on the field — more than the other first-year players.

  • Souichirou Tachibana: Voiced by Seiichiro Yamashita, Soichirou is another first-year student for Esperion FC. He plays forward.

  • Nagisa Akutsu: This second-year high school student is center back and captain of the Tokyo City Esperion FC’s Youth A team.

  • Kanpei Kuroda: Voiced by Shun Horie, Kanpei is another first-year high school student playing for Esperion FC.

  • Jun Asari Marchis: Voiced by Kato Wataru, this supporting character is another player for the Esperion FC youth team.

  • Keiji Togashi: This youth player for Esperion FC is passionate and combative. He joined the team after leaving a motorcycle gang and has some issues making the transition focusing on soccer at first. Eventually, he mellows out and fits right in, becoming a good friend to his teammates.

  • Yuuma Motoki: Voiced by Junya Enoki, this second-year high school student plays for Esperion FC’s Youth A team.

  • Ryuichi Takeshima: Voiced by Kentaro Kumagai, this red-headed teen is another player for Esperion FC’s youth team.

  • Haruhisa Kuribayashi: A supporting character in the series, this professional player for Tokyo City Esperion FC made his debut at just 16 years old. He’s considered a soccer prodigy and the sport is his No. 1 priority in life. Because of this, he hasn’t gotten close with many other players.

  • Shun Aoi: The older brother of Ao Ashi — who is also the main character in the spin-off manga, “Ao Aishi: Brother Foot” — has always loved soccer. He played when he was younger but stopped playing the sport because of bad asthma attacks. He picked it back up eventually, though, and was recruited to play for another J-League youth team, AC Ehime.

  • Noriko Aoi: The mother of Ashito, she owns and runs the family’s store. At first, she was reluctant to let her son move away to play for Esperion FC’s youth league, but Hana convinced her it would be a good opportunity for Ashito.

  • Anri Kaido: The daughter of one of Esperion FC’s sponsors, Anri has a passion for soccer and hopes to coach one day.

  • Date Nozomi: A former reserve player for Esperion FC, he’s now the head coach for Tokyo City’s Team B.

  • Kaneda Akinori: An arrogant but talented player for Tokyo Musashino’s youth team. A first-year player, he scored the most goals in the U-18 Tokyo Division League. He boasts about his goal-scoring prowess and reacts poorly when his team isn’t doing well. He also fought with Ashito.

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Heather Reinblatt

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV