Sports Day in Japan: Anime Fans Saved a Pro Football Team


Azul Claro Numazu is a Japanese football club that competes in the J3 League, which is the third tier of professional football in Japan. The club is associated with Shizuoka Sangyo University and has a presence in Japanese football.

Resource: Azul Claro Numaz

The interesting fact about this football team is its relationship with a famous animation series, Love Live! Sunshine!! Series. This anime series is set in the fictional town of Uchiura, which is inspired by Numazu. As a result, Azul Claro Numazu has embraced this connection and often collaborates with Love Live! Sunshine!! for promotional events and merchandise, making it a special partnership that brings together the world of anime and football.

A Love Live! voice actress visiting Azul Claro Numazu in 2022

Resource: International Seiyuu League’s X account

Love Live! Fans Saving Azul Claro Numazu

Since March 11th, 2022, Love Live! Series became an official partner of Azul Claro Numazu, but exactly a week later, the football team received bad news. Azul Claro Numaz needed to replace the lighting pole of its main stadium, Ashitaka Stadium, because its intensity did not reach J-League’s standard 1500lx. The inability to replace the poles would result in losing the license of J-League. To raise funds, the team received support from the city and companies residing in the city, but it was not enough. What did the team do then? They decided to ask for help from their official partner, Love Live! Series.

The fundraising opened for about 2 weeks with 30 million JPY as the goal. The result was beyond expectations. The anime fans raised about 40 million JPY and the amount contributed about 30% of the entire light pole replacement cost. As a way of fundraising, they offered two collaboration sets, basic and special, but they limited the special set to 100. It was 50,000 JPY, so they probably expected not many people would support the team by spending such a fortune, but the fans were eager to purchase this exclusive item set. Eventually, the limit was removed only one day after the fundraising began.

Resource: Love Live! Official Website for Fundraising

Each flag has the name of the sponsor (the fan who bought the special set)

Resource: Numazu Blog


Azul Claro Numazu is still an official J3 football team, thanks to the citizens of Numazu and the fans of Love Live! Series. It is widely known that Japan is the biggest anime-consuming country, but it is at the level of sponsoring a professional football team in the country. Though including 2D, anime characters in the service would not immediately bring success in Japan, having a charming IP or content in anime-like designs is definitely something to consider in Japan.

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