Sports anime are sometimes the most exciting anime to watch. These dramatizations of real sports games get the blood pumping and can even compete with real sports for fans’ attention. These stories can even be some of the best anime has to offer. Some fans have been a little apprehensive about sports anime over the years, however.
Some sports anime don’t win over fans immediately. It can take a bit of time to build an audience. Some shows often exceed expectations and become hits. Not every show can be an overnight success, but these shows prove that good writing, good animation, and a likeness to actual sports can bring a sports show a devoted following.
10 Baby Steps Proved That Analysis Can Be Awesome
Baby Steps was a two season anime about Eiichiro Maruo (or Ei-chan), an honor student known for his meticulous notes in class. He has a sudden interest in tennis after meeting his classmate Natsu. This begins his journey into the sport of tennis.
Eiichiro plays a different style of tennis than what fans are used to. He analyzes every shot as it happens and records it in notebooks between games during a match. Using this method, he becomes quite skilled and grows into one of the best young tennis players in the country.
9 Tiger Mask W Continues The Legacy
Tiger Mask W is a modern version of the classic Tiger Mask anime. It ran for a long time in the 1970s and even inspired a real-life Tiger Mask character in Japanese puroresu. Some weren’t sure how it would turn out with New Japan’s post-Inoki booking direction.
Tiger Mask W excelled at bringing wrestling to anime. It featured intense match-ups and even had cameos from New Japan stars. The show delved into the rise of a new Tiger Mask as well as the descent of Tiger the Dark. There was even a brief look into the world of joshi (Japanese women’s wrestling) with Tiger Mask’s female friend, Spring Tiger.
8 The 2018 Captain Tsubasa Was A Worthy Adaptation
Captain Tsubasa was a Shonen Jump manga from the early ’80s about a boy who dreamed of being the best pro soccer player in the world. The first anime adaptation was all right but had some of the pacing woes of early anime.
The Captain Tsubasa from 2018 is a supercharged version with great animation. In just 52 episodes, the story of the boy who talked to his ball was told. The series took the story and told it in the modern day in an excellent way. The series even got an English dub thanks to Viz Media, which can be viewed in such places as the Roku Channel.
7 Salaryman’s Club Is A Neat Concept
Salaryman’s Club was a show from the Winter 2022 season. It followed a man who was fired from his company for losing a badminton game. He was hired by a beverage company to play for their team. The man, Mikoto, was a badminton prodigy, so it was an easy decision to pick him up.
Mikoto doesn’t want to play doubles due to an incident in a high school game, but his coworker encourages him to play doubles. This show is an interesting and refreshing take on sports anime. Usually, the characters are on a high school team, but this time, it’s adults with more mature attitudes and problems.
6 Hanebado Is Stylish And Sleek
Hanebado is about a high school badminton team. It features two characters who have differing thoughts about talent. One girl, Hanesaki, was born into the sport and had a famous player for a mother. Aragaki, on the other hand, works hard to maintain the level of skill she has.
Hanebado shows these two characters dealing with personal issues as well as battling on the court. Eventually, the two meet in a tournament match. The animation is great, and the characterization is solid. Audiences can feel just how tense a match can get.
5 All Out Is Some Sweet Rugby Goodness
All Out was a rugby anime from the Fall 2016 season. It follows a high school rugby club as they compete in matches and get into wacky hijinx. The duo Gion and Iwashimizu join the team at the same time and train together. The show has great comedy and intense rugby action.
All Out concerns Gion, who is a shorter boy, and Iwashimizu, a giant boy. Gion is eager to get involved in the sport after watching the team train. Iwashimizu, on the other hand, was apprehensive about joining at first, but the team convinced him to join. The series follows their journey with the team.
Eyeshield 21 was, oddly enough, an anime centered around American football. People weren’t sure an anime about a sport most Japanese people weren’t familiar with would do well. Those anxieties were put to rest as the show had explosive action and great characters.
The show is about Sena, a high school student who gets pushed around a lot. He was a gopher in middle school, and almost suffered the same fate in high school. He became the football team’s manager after the captain threatened him, and he discovered that he runs really fast. Sena became the team’s secret weapon: the mysterious number 21.
3 Kuroko’s Basketball Blew Everyone Away
Kuroko’s Basketball was an anime from the 2010s about a high school basketball team. The series ran in Weekly Shonen Jump, where it was constantly compared to Slam Dunk. Considering Slam Dunk was part of Jump‘s Big Three for a time, the series had big shoes to fill.
Kuroko’s Basketball had the advantage of incredible animation to bring the games to life. The big passes and shots were crisp and wonderful. Kuroko’s Basketball built on what came before it and wowed audiences with stunning visuals and epic games.
2 Bamboo Blade Is About Girls Learning The Way Of The Sword
Bamboo Blade was a kendo anime that aired in 2007. It was a rare look into girls’ sports — and girls’ kendo at that. The show had decent comedy and cool kendo matches that displayed the intricacies of the sport.
The show followed Toraji Ishida, a kendo instructor who was lacking motivation. He made a bet with his former upperclassman to train a team of five girls and face off against his team. This challenge inspired him to find and train girls as opposed to boys. This gave Ishida the motivation he was looking for.
1 Haikyu! Became A Highly Anticipated Series
Haikyu! is a volleyball anime series under the Shonen Jump banner. It had four seasons and is one of the most hotly anticipated sports anime out there. People weren’t sure about the series in the beginning, but it won over legions of fans.
The story is about Hinata, a short boy who was inspired to take up volleyball by a high school player who was also of short stature. He got into the same high school that “The Little Giant” played for only to find that the school’s reputation had dropped. Hinata and his teammates hope to bring honor and glory to the school as they form bonds with each other.
NEXT: 10 Shonen Protagonists That Would Be Great In A Sports Anime