Full Time for Football Comic ‘Captain Tsubasa’ in Print

Jiji Press
Yoichi Takahashi

Football comic “Captain Tsubasa” ended its 43-year print serialisation on Thursday, but its creator said the stories that inspired Lionel Messi will continue online.

Yoichi Takahashi started the comic about an 11-year-old football prodigy in 1981 and it became a smash hit whose fans included future superstars Messi and Andres Iniesta.

On Thursday the final installment of Captain Tsubasa Magazine hit the shelves in Japan, tightly sealed at bookstores to protect against spoilers.

“Burn the bravery of Tsubasa and the gang into your hearts!” the magazine said on its cover, beside an illustration of main character Tsubasa Ozora wearing a Japanese national team kit.

“To new challenges!” another banner headline said.

Takahashi said earlier this year that the series would end in April, citing his worsening health and changing conditions in the manga industry.

“Now I have finished drawing the last episode of the series, I am relieved to have finished everything and feel liberated to finally lead a life without deadlines,” the 63-year-old wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday.

The author said he would continue the story in sketches published online and would try new “forms of expression” unbound by the constraints of the publishing industry.

Known as “Super Campeones” in Spanish-speaking Latin America and “Holly e Benji” in Italy, the story has also been adapted into cartoons and video games.

Its books have sold more than 70 million copies in Japan, and more than 10 million overseas.

“The story of Captain Tsubasa is not over yet! That is a fact,” Takahashi said.

“Please continue to support Captain Tsubasa just as you have in the past.”