Sports anime is actually a genre of Japanese anime that really focuses on stories involving sports and other athletic and competitive pursuits. Though Japanese animated works depicting sports were released as early as the 1920s, sports anime did not emerge as a discrete category until the early 1950s. The genre achieved prominence in the context of the post-war occupation of Japan.
Then, it gained significant visibility during and subsequent to the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Noted as among the most popular genres of manga and anime, sports anime is credited with introducing new sports to Japan and popularizing existing sports. These are the 7 best sports anime got made.
This is also one of the few sports anime with a female protagonist. It ran with 25 episodes and an OVA in 2013. While the anime is about a game you likely have never heard of or played, it has a lot of non-Japanese fans who did not know anything either about the game. The series is loved for its characters and how they develop through their successes and failures. Even the side characters get the progress that is explored.
2) Prince Of Tennis
Unlike some of the other shows on this list. The protagonist in the Prince of Tennis is already an amazing player when the show starts. In fact, he is kind of a genius and has already won a number of championships. Despite his talent though, he still cannot defeat his father. That’s right, there are daddy issues! He joins a tennis team and spends the series trying to get good enough to beat his dad.
This scuba diving-focused sports anime ran in 2016 with 12 episodes and an OVA. It is the sport of scuba diving, but also a slice of life story where each episode feels like its own little adventure. Like every other title on this list, friendship is a major point of the show. The two friends that are focused on, Pikari and Teko, are pretty fun to watch since one is very shy and the other is energetic and eccentric. Teko does not even know how to swim at first, so that’s fun. The animation is one that makes you wish you were in a seaside town in the summer where you can go scuba diving.
4) Hajime No Ippo
The manga for this has been ongoing since 1989! It got 76 episodes from 2002 to 2004, a movie, 26 episodes in 2009, and 25 more from 2013 to 2014. It is an anime that some fans grew up with. The franchise even has its own video games. The story follows a timid high schooler, Makunouchi Ippo, on his journey to become a professional boxer. It’s manga is a best-seller and has won the Kodansha Manga Award.
5) Yowamushi Pedal
As you may tell from the “pedal” in the title, this sports anime focuses on biking. The main character, Sakamichi Onoda, is an otaku who is looking to make friends. However, the school anime club disbanded so he has to settle for the bicycle racing club. The cast of characters are a fun group with a main character that is not exactly your typical sports anime protagonist. Not only are the protagonists great, but the antagonists are pretty memorable.
6) Kuroko’s Basketball
This is another longer sports anime, consisting of 75 episodes that ran from 2012 to 2015. The focus is basketball and the show is known for its smooth animation with very intense basketball moves. For fans, the episodes go by very fast and they’ll find that they suddenly stayed up till 3 am watching over ten episodes. Others have noted they have gotten adrenaline rushes anytime their favorite character is victorious. Some fans note that the show is unrealistic in terms of sports, but that’s part of what makes it fun and interesting. Like others on this list, the show is not a “good people win every time” story, so there is a lot of struggle, drama, and the successes feel all the more real and rewarding for the characters.
Even if you have not watched this show, you have probably heard or have seen it around if you are into anime. It is very popular. The sport that the show revolves around is volleyball, but you do not have to be a fan of the sport to love the anime. Fans love the show for the way the characters develop and how their relationships change since they are friends, teammates, and students who are indifferent school years. Some sports anime focus merely on an individual with their skills but Haikyuu is all about communication with the team.