I enjoyed it so much I looked around online and found there was an anime based on the manga. So I downloaded all 39 episodes and watched them all within a few days. As is so often the case, the manga is better than the anime, but it's not a Beck-like gap in quality.
A few of the characters:
Our Young Hero is Kazamatsuri Shou. His dream is to play pro soccer. He worked hard to get accepted into Musashi no Mori, a prestigious middle school known for its soccer team. But because he's so short, he could never actually play. So in his second year, he transfers to Sakura Jousui. He's not very good, but he has a lot of spunk. Shou is a pretty typical bright-eyed and bushy-tailed earnest hero. But I like him anyway.
Mizuno Tatsuya is Sakura Jousui's ace. He's so good, everyone wonders why he's there and not at Musashi no Mori. Which is a good question... Mizuno is basically a nice guy, but he has Issues sometimes. He's pretty.
Sato Shigeki (Shige) is flashy, bored, and loves to give everyone weird nicknames. He's very entertaining.
Shibusawa Katsurou is the Musashi no Mori goal keeper and captain. He's the coolest.
There are lots of other soccer players at SJ and elsewhere that I really love, too many to mention. SJ is an underdog team and it's the struggle of the players that I enjoy.
And then there's Fuwa. *points to icon*
Fuwa Daichi doesn't show up until about episode 10 of the anime and volume 4 of the manga (he's on the cover, anyhow). He's a super-genius who annoys everyone at Sakura Jousui because he's too smart to be able to understand other people very well.
Fuwa is, frankly, Inui and Kaidoh's love child. From Inui, he gets his brain and his habit of saying things like "The data have been collected and the shot will come at an angle of 32 degrees, so the probability of a shot to the upper left corner is 86%." From Kaidoh, he gets his pretty hair, his general physicality, and, delightfully, his seiyuu. Fuwa's attitude of disaffected insufferability is all his own.
This isn't the best anime I'm watching, not by a long chalk. But the reason I'm posting about it when I never post about Naruto or Bleach or Monster (well, I have pimped Monster) or Yakitate Japan (the crackiest crack ever cracked) is because Whistle! just pings me in the right way.
Which is to say, there will be fic, even if nobody reads it. :)
VIZ is publishing the manga. The first 3 volumes are out. I will continue to buy them, but if anyone happens to have scanlations... You can download the anime in two packs. It doesn't cover all of the manga (23 volumes, I think) but AFAIK, stays pretty close to the same story. There are two LJ comms that I know of: whistle_boiluv and whistlefans.
If you're already a Whistle! fan, please sound off and let me know. And what's with me and all this sports manga/anime? Should I be watching Slam Dunk too?