Who would have thought that an anime about badminton would be one of the stand-out shows of the summer season? With its self-reflection on what it means to play a sport, its unique inversion of the standard sports shounen plot, and excellent animation, Hanebado has quickly accumulated a lot of fans. It’s even introducing new fans into the sports anime genre.
If you are a new-inductee, you may be looking for more anime like Hanebado. Don’t worry, there’s plenty for you to sink your teeth into! We’ve compiled a list of 6 anime like Hanebado that we think should do the trick. Heck, most of them even feature sports that require the players to use a racquet or paddle to knock a ball back and forth! You’ll feel right at home!
Similar Anime to Hanebado
1. Baby Steps
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: Apr. 2014 - Sept. 2015
Eiichiro Maruo was just an exceptionally average high school student with absolutely no aspirations. All he wanted was to get himself into a decent university by the time he graduated high school and move onto a decent career. A chance encounter with his high school’s disorderly idol Takasaki Natsu drives Maruo into adopting tennis as a potential workout routine. The more Maruo plays, though, the more he finds himself fitting tennis into his incredibly rigid schedule, to the point that it’s all he wants to do with himself!
You could call Baby Steps an inverse of sorts of Hanebado. Whereas Hanebado is about a solemn rediscovery of a forgotten passion, Baby Steps is an optimistic tale about Maruo’s discovery of his passion. Tennis is an out for Maruo from his once boring, safe world; he’s drawn to it because he’s fascinated by the disorder of tennis. It’s not something he can simply sit down and read through a book to master. The chaos that Natsu injects into his life is exactly what Maruo needed to come out of his shell. It’s a wonderfully uplifting story, and great if you need an anime like Hanebado that serves as something of a pick-me-up.
Baby Steps - Trailer:
2. Ping Pong the Animation
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: Apr. 2014 - Jun. 2014
Tsukimoto Makoto was nicknamed “Smile” by Hoshino “Peco” Yutaka. This is something of an ironic nickname as Smile is actually a pretty dour guy. In fact, he really doesn’t enjoy playing ping pong all that much but joins the team because Peco pushes him into it. Smile is actually an excellent player, but no one realizes it because Peco won’t shut up about his own sick skills. Can their friendship survive when Smile reveals his talent to the nation and steals Peco’s precious attention?
While the anime came out in 2014, the manga Ping Pong was based on is over 20 years old. In fact, it gained enough attention when it came out, that Ping Pong ended up inspiring a 2002 live-action film that ended up snagging several Japanese film awards! We’d be hard pressed to say that Hanebado wasn’t influenced at all by Ping Pong, what with its focus on characters who have to figure out what drove them into playing the game and why they stick with it now. Masaaki Yuasa’s anime adaptation is considered the definitive version of the story, though, and blew even non-anime fans away with its powerful direction.
Ping Pong - Official Trailer:
3. Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume (Scorching Ping Pong Girls)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2016 - Dec. 2016
Tsumujikaze Koyori is a simple girl: she loves ping pong, has devoted herself to mastering the game, and really has little time for anything else. However, this passion is a bit of an issue for Kamiya Agari, the ace of Suzumegahara Junior High’s ping-pong team. Agari certainly enjoys ping pong, but what she loves, even more, is the attention her talent brings. Koyori’s sheer talent is threatening Agari’s dominance within the club, and Agari needs to put an end to Koyori rapid rise through the ranks of the club… and fast.
There are more connections between Hanebado and Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume than simply featuring cute girls that play games that make use of paddles. Both are, at their heart, about rediscovering a love of a sport that’s been forgotten. Agari and Nagisa force themselves to play because they’ve determined their self-worth based on their talent on a game they played at first just because they enjoyed it. Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume is a bit on the lighter side too, so if you’re looking for an anime like Hanebado that’s not quite as melodramatic, it’s a great choice.
Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume PV:
Any Anime Like Hanebado ?
4. Tennis no Ouji-sama (Prince of Tennis)
- Episodes: 178
- Aired: Oct. 2001 - Mar. 2005
Much like the wandering martial artists of old, Ryouma Echizen has arrived at Seishin Gakuen Junior High School. His intent? Defeating its master and becoming the star player of their national-level tennis team. However, making his way up the ranks won’t be easy, as Seigaku houses some of the best players in all of Japan. The team at Seigaku entertains Ryouma’s drive though because his skills are no joke either. Ryouma’s got his work cut out for him if he wants to make a name for himself and escape his father’s shadow!
Do you watch Hanebado and enjoy the action and the passion in the animation but wish it’d go even more over the top? Tennis no Ouji-sama is exactly what you’re looking for. Clocking in at a whopping 178 episodes, Tennis no Ouji-sama was one of the last in a long line of sports shounen series designed to be put out week to week regardless if it caught up with the manga. In order to keep it engaging, the animation staff took its own liberties at times and got really wild with the tennis battles. Most notoriously, the ending involves a Super Saiyan-esque clash of wills that might make the beefcakes of Dragon Ball Z jealous.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2016 - Mar. 2017
Poor Gion Kenji. He’s got such a violent temperament, but people won’t leave his tiny self alone. He’s like a yappy Chihuahua that you just can’t help but tease; because of its size, you know that even if it fights back, it won’t be able to do any real damage to you. That’s ultimately what drives Gion to rugby; it gives him a chance to take out his aggression on much bigger opponents!
Are you the type of sports fan who got into Hanebado solely due to its unique subject matter? Have we got the series for you! All-Out is the only traditional sports anime out there that is focused purely on the sport of rugby, making it stand out among its shounen peers. It serves as a fun introduction into the basics of rugby if you’d like to learn a little more about the sport, which has always been a side function of sports anime since their inception. Likewise, part of Hanebado’s appeal comes from being perhaps the only anime devoted to badminton out there, giving it an extremely unique hook. Plus, both All-Out and Hanebado have fantastically animated action sequences, so All-Out’s a great pick all around if you’re looking for a more exciting anime like Hanebado.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr. 2009 - Sept. 2009
Sometimes people are pressured to forgo their own desires for the sake of their family. For Miyanaga Saki, that sacrifice comes in the form of, er… Mahjong. Her parents were an odd sort; they’d force Saki to play Mahjong for her New Year’s present. However, if Saki won, then they’d get upset with her and not give Saki her present anyway. On the other hand, if Saki lost, then she’d get nothing on New Year’s. So, like many victims in the face of hardship, Saki adapted to survive. She learned to play so there’d never be any point differential between her and anyone else. However, Saki has been dragged into playing at her high school’s club despite growing to dislike the game, and she’s not really sure what to do.
Anyone who’s watched the first couple of episodes of Hanebado can easily draw a parallel between Ayano and Saki. Ayano’s journey mirrors that of Saki, both raised by parents who attempted to instill a love of their respective game only to actually cause them to both resent it. However, over the course of the series, both Saki and Ayano slowly learn to love their games and grow more passionate as a result.
Better still, if you’re really impatient for more anime like Hanebado week to week, we’ve only listed the first season here. There are actually three seasons of Saki out currently, giving you plenty to watch while waiting for a new episode of Hanebado!
We hope this is enough to tide you over for each week in between episodes you remain Hanebado-less. Maybe they’re not 100% the same, but we feel these shows capture at least part of what makes Hanebado so good: the introspection on what it means to be passionate about a sport, the unique subject matter in badminton, and great sports-oriented action.
Of course, if you want to find more, you can always check the comments below! Maybe someone has posted their own ideas about what you could watch?