inazuma eleven is... a truly strange piece of media that i'm not entirely sure how i got into in the first place. it's about soccer, a sport i never enjoyed or even understood, it's aimed at elementary and middle school boys (something i obviously never was), and it's just. bizarrely constructed and odd in its handling of its own lore. but maybe that's what makes it so special to me.

i was obsessed with it when i was 16 and again when i was 21, for some reason. i just rewatched all of it last year (2021 into 2022) with one of my best friends and through the eyes of an adult it was truly something strange. Love the story and i found out something new. dinosaurs and robots from the future play soccer too.

this show is broken up into 6 story arcs (technically 8, but the reboots are actual garbage) which i will try not to go into too much detail about but i love talking about it because of how much it blows my mind. and i know no one in their right mind is going to watch this anyway so spoilers ahead. all the anime seasons are based on DS and 3DS game counterparts but condensed and lightened up quite a bit.

arc 1: typical shounen sports anime, if you're familiar with the genre. we got soccer. rivalries. some old man trying to exact a 40 year revenge by attempting to kill a team of middle schoolers. but did i mention everyone that plays soccer in this universe has magical powers? this is never explained in detail and is played completely straight. but all players know they have to train meticulously to develop new magical attacks and defenses etc. anyway the final match of the tournament the main characters get into is a team of middle school boys who theme themselves after greek gods.

arc 2: so the main characters defeat the greek gods and win the tournament. they come back to find their school has just been destroyed by aliens. this is my favourite season of the entire show and the one i've watched more than literally any other anime and yet i don't remember anything about it. but the main team gets a hot lady coach who buses them around japan looking for new boys strong enough to help beat the aliens and it's a really feel good kinda season with some of the best character development i have ever seen in the form of a character named fubuki shirou. also the main alien tells the main character he's in love with "those eyes of his". A bit fruity

arc 3: so forget all that development fubuki shirou got because we're almost never going to talk about him again even though he joins everyone in fighting in the world tournament. this season was way too long and awkwardly broken up by everyone having to go to either heaven or hell because a group of angels abducted their friend and a group of demons abducted one of the main characters' little sister. wish i was making this up. a few eps later everyone forget about all this and goes back to the world tournament

arc 4: so lets go 10 years into the future now. we're looking at the same school from the first three seasons but with some new boys. the main character has what can only be described as an extremely autistic connection with soccer and even though his story arcs aren't as solid i love him more than the original main character. he is a sweet cinnamon bun haired kid too pure for this world. he has never said a swear in his life. anyway this season was about the mafia controlling soccer and fixing matches between all the schools in japan and the main character's school is designated as a loser school all the time but eventually they all revolt and overthrow the mafia but it could have been a lot cooler. the ending was very anticlimactic. also a lot of the boys from the original are adults in this but they don't really do much of anything

arc 5: Inazuma Eleven Go: Chrono Stone is legitimately the worst trash television i have ever seen in my entire life. i first watched it when i was 17 and never saw it again until i was 24 and in my head i was fully convinced that i was just being an angsty teen and a hater about it. but i was wrong. it still really sucked. it was about time travel and it was mind bogglingly bad. The Unfortunate Thing Is it has some of the best music and the best characters in the whole show. the plot is just so trash terrible i want to meet who wrote it and ask: why. ray rukh (pictured) and nanobana kinako are my two faves from this season but they're not as important as a lad named Zanark Avalonic who did whatever he wanted to and looked badass doing it. he was crazy and i miss him every day. we get zero backstory on him and the first we see is him breaking out of prison. drove his motorcycle straight into the strongest hurricane on record to absorb its power. also he could shoot a beam out of his mouth. this last bit wasn't related to soccer he just did it

arc 6: back in senseland, the new gen of boys are preparing for their own world tournament. but surprise! this time the aliens set it up and were really testing them for eligibility in a galaxy wide tournament amongst other aliens from other planets. disturbingly all the aliens from the other planets are all adults so i hardly think it's fair that these actual children have to compete to save their planet but by god they do it anyway. in the end it turns out this one alien set this up because he wanted to collect energy like some kind of sailor moon villain to blow up the planet of this girl he hates.

there are also two follow up seasons - an alternate universe arc 2 and 3. these seasons are utterly terrible in nearly every way and i do not recommend them. every kids media is made to sell toys and merchandise but that became GLARINGLY obvious with the reboot. i won't go into how capitalism takes advantage of nostalgia etc etc but surely you get the idea. also im salty they introduced a fun character for two episodes only to never bring him back again. shimerigawa kageru... this one's for you. at least the bright side of all the merch peddling is that i have a copy of his in-show id card flopping around in my wallet. and i may or may not have accidentally shown it to a bartender thinking i grabbed my real id.