”You wanna be my friend?” the songs asks, and the answer seems to be “Yes!” Along with exciting on-the-field action at the World Cup, including a historic win by the Japanese team, we’ve been seeing heartwarming displays of cultural exchange and goodwill from fans.
The Japanese practice of tidying up your section of the stadium before going home, for example, has been catching on with soccer supporters from other countries, leaving arenas clean and faces smiling.
But it’s not just sports that have the power to emotionally connect people from different parts of the globe. As Japan’s most passionately loved cultural export, anime also serves as a link between its home country and other nations. After the Japan-Senegal match on Sunday night, Twitter user @JohnSulo posted this video of himself and a trio of Japanese fans, decked out in Samurai Blue jerseys, belting out “We Are!” the original ending theme song from hit pirate anime One Piece.
Meilleure moment de la journée : chanter la musique de One Piece avec les Japonais après le match 🇸🇳🇷🇺🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/IbQIqOJoVN
— Sulo (@JohnSulo) June 24, 2018
Though the match ended in a 2-2 tie, the group is singing with such unabashed enthusiasm and energy that you’d think they were riding high on the energy of a decisive victory. While their choice of tune was probably prompted by a common love of the anime, the lyrics are also a pretty good fit for the circumstances of their impromptu concert, including bold declarations about searching for ways to make your dreams come true (much like the players on the pitch) and the in-English question “You wanna be my friend?”, echoing the unexpected friendship being formed in the video.
It’s especially impressive that the singers all seem to remember the melody and words. “We Are!” was initially used for One Piece’s first 43 episodes, with episode 43 airing all the way back in September of 2007. The song returned, with different vocals, for roughly a dozen episodes later in the series, but the last of those was broadcast in October of 2006, making its collected anime appearances over a decade old. Still, it’s managed to hold on to a special place in anime fans’ hearts, and odds are this joyous after-game encounter is something none of the people involved with will be forgetting anytime soon either.