Sunday, December 4, 2022

World Cup Ambitions: Yasuo and Kota

* Idea for this entry suggested by Patrick Fuller

Football (soccer) fever has struck Japan again with the national team having advanced to the final 16 in the FIFA World Cup! The first Shenmue game also starts in a year in which the World Cup had been played in Mexico, with Diego Maradona leading Argentina to victory in 1986.

It is not surprising, then, that there are two young soccer fanatics living in Ryo's neighborhood: Yasuo Ito and Kota Mitsui, aged 7 and 8 years when introduced in the game, but with only a couple of months separating them.

Near the start of the game, their practice in the street triggers a QTE sequence when Ryo approaches, putting the player's reactions to the test to avoid the awkward outcome of making Yasuo's little sister Kayoko burst into tears!

Kota and Yasuo are gently reprimanded by Ryo after the QTE

The official character profiles also make mention of their love of the game, with specific reference to the World Cup.

From Kota's profile:
"Kota likes playing soccer and video games. He loves talking about soccer with his best friend Yasuo. Influenced by a popular comic book, he wants to become an ace striker in the All Japan League and enter the World Cup." 
Character profile for Kota Mitsui (screenshot from Suka Pass)

Back in 1986, Japan's national football association league was called the Japan Soccer League (from 1965 and 1992) and was the precursor to the present-day J.League professional league.

The influential comic book referred to in the profile may have been Captain Tsubasa by Yoichi Takahashi, as it has been in circulation since 1981 and is one of the longest-standing and most famous soccer manga. The series follows a boy named Tsubasa, who - just as Kota does - dreams of winning the FIFA World Cup playing for Japan.

Cover of the first volume in the Captain Tsubasa manga series

Where Kota dreams of success as a striker, Yasuo is set on being a goalkeeper:
"Like his friend Kota, he is crazy about soccer and the two of them never get tired of talking about it. His dream is to be a goalkeeper and play in the World Cup with Kota."

Character profile for Yasuo Ito (screenshot from Suka Pass)

In Shenmue's world, we hope Yasuo and Kota did eventually make it into the national team and fulfill their dream of representing their country in the World Cup.

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  1. Thanks very much for this interesting article. I didn't realise that the character profiles for Yasuo and Kota mention their World Cup ambitions. 頑張って、日本!

    1. It's neat the way they have tied in the character backstories to real events and influences. Lots of excitement in Japan for the upcoming match!