Shonen Jump‘s 24-volume sports manga Whistle! flourished as a 39-episode anime when it hit the airwaves in 2002. 2017 marks the 15th anniversary of the anime series, and original creator Daisuke Higuchi is revisiting the story in a new manga installment. There are, of course, anniversary festivities on the TV side of things… but not in the way you might expect.
While Whistle! has received spinoffs in the forms of games and a recent stage play, the 2017 anniversary release won’t technically be new content. Well, not entirely. The creators put together what they call a “voice remake”: a new dub of the series, featuring a modern generation of voice actors.
Shun Horie (Navimon in Digimon Universe: Appli Monsters) takes over as Sho Kazamatsuri, the series’ lead character. Sho always dreamed of being a soccer player, but was not good enough to rise in the ranks of his school’s team. A transfer to a new school means he can play — and thus improve at the game. In the original version, Sho was voiced by Minako Komukai, who also performed the OP/ED themes.
So why recast an entire anime as a celebration of its anniversary? It’s an interesting choice, and one a few fans have voiced confusion over. There was nothing “wrong” with the previous version. However, a quick glance at the new cast shows that a good number of them are very new indeed, with only a scant handful of leading roles to their name. This isn’t an attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken — rather, it’s an opportunity for a new generation, and a way for them to have a hand in a show that was over and done before they arrived on the scene.
Originally, the plan was to stream the voice remake online, which happened in winter of last year. Japanese streaming sites like Nico Video and Hulu Japan took part, offering all the episodes to watch with the new voice track. It seems it did well… because the new version will also be getting a TV broadcast!
Starting next month, all 39 episodes of Whistle! (with its new cast) will be airing on ANIMAX. Not a bad way to celebrate an anniversary!
What do you think of the recasting? Are you a fan of the original without exception, or are you curious about the new voices? Let us know!