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We’re in the middle of a massive sports anime craze. A ton of new sports shows air every season, each one with its own hook. Recently, we’ve even had shows about baseball management, revivals of old classics, and, uh, horse girl racing (it’s good, we swear). Because of this, we felt it was time to update our top 10 sports anime list.
A couple of rules this time around. Only 2 series that have made our previous lists were allowed. This was so we could properly talk about a lot of the great stuff that’s come around recently. Also, we wanted to highlight some other classics that were missed since it might get boring if we just kept talking about how good Yuri on Ice and Kuroko no Basket are. Anyway, without further ado, let’s get to it!
10. Uma Musume: Pretty Derby
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2018 - June 2018
A true legend never dies. They will live on through oral history or legend as proof that they really existed… or in the case of famous race horses, reborn as Japanese school girls. If chosen by fate for a chance at a second life, they’ll fight for their chance to attend Tracen Academy. They’ll train to reclaim some of the glory they once had on the racetrack in addition to becoming a pop idol (naturally). One such horse girl is Special Week, who needs to fulfill a promise to her mother to become Japan’s prize champion.
Pretty Derby goes all in on its weird concept. The girls aren’t just horses, but even have to take on names from famous racehorses. And they don’t just race, but even perform as idols because, why the heck not? It makes no sense and makes no pretense that it might. Uma Musume knows exactly what it is, and rather than justifying itself to the audience, kicks everything up a notch. It’s not for everyone, but as far as the fanservice sports shows go, Uma Musume is one of the finest.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2018 - June 2018
What do you think about when you hear the term “sports anime”? Is it the story of a young hotshot with nothing but a singularly weird but useful talent and a buttload of gumption? Well, throw that out the window with Gurazeni, because Natsunosuke Bonda is who we’re following. He’s a mere a relief pitcher on a professional team. His goal? Last long enough on his team to raise his salary so he doesn’t have to resort to living a normal, milquetoast life.
It wasn’t the most popular series at release, but we feel Gurazeni deserves a place on this list. It’s one of the only sports anime out there that’s willing to tell a story that’s not necessarily about becoming the best. Gurazeni is one of the more realistic sports stories because it’s about the only universally relatable subjects: the drive for cash. It’s a rather interesting (if cynical) look at the true nature of sports. Yes, you could attempt to become the best baseball player in the world for personal glory. Let’s face it, though; most players are looking to escape a lower economic class. Sports are their only escape from a life of sheer drudgery.
8. Nana Maru San Batsu (Fastest Finger First)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2017 - September 2017
Maybe Koshiyama Shiki’s family would prefer he live a more glamorous life. That’s not what Koshiyama wants though. A rather nebbish kid, Koshiyama was content keeping to himself reading classic literature and history books. A chance encounter with the quiz crazy Fukami Mari has him dragged to a tournament with his school's quiz bowl team. There, Koshiyama discovers a love for the game of quiz bowl that he never realized he had. He has no greater goal in mind though; he just wants to keep playing!
Outside of the subject matter, there’s not a lot about Nana Maru San Batsu that’s terribly original. What makes it work is how quiz bowl is depicted. This is not a story about making it to the giant stage with the incredible flashing lights and proving your worth to the world. Quiz bowl is all about nerds coming together in a gymnasium they rented for a weekend, stumping each other with tricky quiz questions, and fighting over rule technicalities. There will never be a sports anime that is as true to its game as Nana Maru San Batsu, and that counts for something.
7. Baby Steps
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2014 - September 2014
High school students couldn’t be more boring than Maruo Eiichiro. Only a sophomore, Eiichiro spends most of his time studying with the hopes of attending a nice college upon graduation. Heck, his only extracurricular activity is cram school. However, that all changes upon meeting the enchanting Takasaki Natsu. He ends up following her to a sports center after school where he finds out she’s an incredibly avid tennis player. Eiichiro gives it a shot too and finds it to be an enjoyable method of exercise, but he soon discovers a passion he never realized he had inside him.
It’s hard to make an intentionally bland character that’s simultaneously compelling, but Baby Steps manages to do just that. Eiichiro, rather than resisting his growth into adulthood like any other sports hero, has chosen to embrace a life of tedium to get a jump on a brain-dead adulthood. Yet, it’s precisely that kind of early-onset pragmatism that draws us to Eiichiro. The more he plays tennis and interacts with Natsu, the more Eiichiro realizes that his future doesn’t have to be a boring one. Watching his slow growth is exactly what sucks us into Baby Steps and makes it so enticing.
6. 3-Gatsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2016 - March 2017
Kiriyama Rei had a rough life. He’s socially awkward, has no family, and has to work to survive despite being in high school. Of course, he isn’t a cashier or busboy at a restaurant, but a professional shogi player. That being said, he’s not really that happy. He feels isolated from everyone around him. He ends up meeting Kawamoto Akari, a young woman working in a hostess club. Akari’s nurturing personality draws her to look after Rei. Rei makes friends with her and her sisters, Hina and Momo, but he feels awkward. He’s not really sure if he’s right to impose on their kindness.
Plenty of sports series show how its central characters develop a social circle because of their love of a shared passion, but how many delve into how devotion can isolate someone? Without going into spoilers, Rei ends up getting into shogi not because he particularly loves it, but as a survival method. Because of this, Rei doesn’t even know how to talk to people. Shogi is a game dominated by the elderly to boot, so Rei barely has any peers. The one he does have (Nikaidou) drives him up the wall. Ultimately, Rei has to learn to accept people from outside of his comfort zone, which is extremely rare for a sports anime.
5. Megalo Box
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2018 - June 2018
There’s a nameless man with dreams of running free. He chose the name “Junk Dog” for himself, but that was so people could refer to him as something. His life is basically worthless as far as society is concerned. Junk Dog currently works in an underground Megalo Box ring (think boxing but with cyborg arms), throwing matches for the local mob to mess with the betting odds. He dreams of more. Chance (or perhaps fate) puts him in contact with Yuuri, the world’s Megalo Box champion. Now, he wants nothing more but a shot at the big time, fighting on his own terms.
Believe it or not, you might know this story. You’d know it as Ashita no Joe, but you would know it. That’s because Megalo Box was designed as an update to the classic story while keeping what made it great. It’s more than just the plot beats that Megalo Box adapts, though. The animation looks like it was hand-drawn back in the earlier 2000s, capturing that sort of darker coloring and more polished hand-drawn linework of that era. This combination perfectly captures the very dirty, raw tone that Megalo Box conveys and what makes it such a powerful (if depressing) series to watch.
4. Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2007 - September 2007
When you’re a kid playing baseball, the most obvious strategy is that whoever has the pitcher with the fastest pitch is going to win. That’s just common sense. Except… Mihashi Ren has control on par with a professional player, but his fastball is pretty weak. A junior high student has no idea how to make that work. As a result, Mihashi had a middle school life full of bullying and neglect as he’d refuse to leave the pitcher’s mound despite his team constantly losing. This all changes in high school when Mihashi meets a talented catcher on the baseball team named Abe Takuya. Abe recognizes Mihashi’s talent immediately and works with him to help him understand how good he really is.
The original Ookiku Furikabutte was written by Higuchi Asa, who got a degree in sports psychology. This really shines through in her depiction of high school athletes. Mihashi and Abe are the clear stars of the show but all of their teammates have their own struggles to overcome. The series has a real understanding of the mentality of high school students. That is to say, they both understand more about the world than we realize while they simultaneously overestimate their own abilities. It also features the most nail-bitingly drawn-out match in sports series history, with its entire second half devoted to a single game.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2011 - March 2012
Ayase Chihaya is known around her school as “Beauty in Vain”. She’s a good-looking girl, but she’s got such a single-track mind that she shuts out everything else around her. Her obsession? Karuta, a card game based on Japanese poetry memorization. There’s a problem, though: her high school doesn’t have a karuta club! Mashima Taichi (one of her best friends from childhood) is willing to join, but they need to find some new members. Otherwise, Ayase won’t have her chance to prove to Wataya Arata that karuta is an important team sport.
Chihayafuru is simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking. On one hand, you have Chihaya’s rise to prominence in the world of karuta; a girl who’s able to compete in the same world as men without it seeming weird. On the other hand, you have Taichi. He’s constantly chasing after Chihaya and just wants her to notice him, but he can never succeed because Chihaya only has eyes for Arata and karuta. You want him so badly to succeed but at the same time acknowledge that, ultimately, it’s Chihaya’s story. Her goals are what you’re really cheering for, even if they go against Taichi’s desires.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2014 - September 2014
Big things come in small packages. That’s what the tiny Hinata Shouyou believes, at least. He has to if he wants to become the next “Little Giant” of high school volleyball! Unfortunately, Hinata was unable to inspire anyone outside of his friend group to join his volleyball club in junior high school. Still, he manages to drag a few of his pals to the summer championship, where Hinata manages to pick a fight with setting genius Kageyama Tobio. Hinata swears revenge on Kageyama and declares him his eternal rival for when they make it to high school. Naturally, Hinata joins the high school where the Little Giant made his name, only to find Kageyama on the team too!
If there was ever an argument about sports anime not being able to keep up with the spectacle of fantasy battle series, Haikyuu is the natural counterargument. Production I.G’s technical prowess on display here is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Simple spikes explode from the palms of players like rockets firing out of flesh-canons. Players don’t merely chase the ball but stretch their limbs to the fullest extent their inky muscles will allow them. The choreography and animation is nothing short of incredible.
1. Hajime no Ippo (Fighting Spirit)
- Episodes: 75
- Aired: October 2000 - March 2002
Makunouchi Ippo was a small town boy without much of a future ahead of him. He worked part-time at his mother’s fishing shop just so the two of them could keep paying their bills. He wasn’t the most popular kid either, as he was such a meek child that he was a common target for bullies. However, one day on the way home from school, Ippo catches a mammoth of a man practicing some shadow boxing underneath a tree. This is Takamura Mamoru, Japan’s #1 hope at claiming the world heavyweight boxing championship. Ippo wants to learn how to fight from him, and before he knows it, he’s on his way to becoming the top featherweight boxer in Japan!
Hajime no Ippo claims the top spot not because it’s the first sports anime out there. In fact, despite the manga starting in the late 80s, Hajime no Ippo was actually pretty late to the party considering how quickly other trailblazers like Captain Tsubasa and Slam Dunk got their own anime. However, Hajime no Ippo is the ultimate representation of what we love about the genre. The inspiring story of the little guy overcoming adversity and becoming the nation’s best. The fierce rivalries that Ippo forms with men like Miyata and Sendo. The high-octane action in every single one of Ippo’s fights that require equal parts strategy and finesse. It’s the purest refinement of the classic sports story that we know and love, and that’s why it’s on top.
What’s more amazing than how many new great series we were able to fit on this list is that we’ve still got great new ones still coming out! Hanebado, Harukana Receive, the 2018 Captain Tsubasa reboot, and Major 2nd are still going on now and are all worth just as much of your time as these are!
Did we miss anything? Feel really strongly that All-Out should have made this list? Well, please, comment below and let us know!
Sports have played a huge part in humanity’s development, with evidence suggesting its depiction in prehistoric cave paintings. We can’t say for sure which sport was the first to ever be played, but we can account that participation in sports has been used to build social and cultural cohesion, tactical and defensive training, friendly and rival competition, and overall just for the fun of it! From this, more and more sports are evolving and being created.
In the world of anime, we get to experience and maybe relate to some of the sports presented to us. Driving our interests and hyping the crowd, sports anime are always so exciting! Without further ado, we give you our updated best recommendations for top 10 sports anime! Let’s get ready to rumble!
10. Cheer Danshi!! (Cheer Boys!!)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2016 – September 2016
The story of Cheer Danshi!! begins with a young guy named Haruki Bandou who is recovering from a judo injury. Devastated by this incident, Haruki resigns from practicing judo at the Meishiin University club. Unexpectedly, his good friend Kazuma Hashimoto also decides to leave the club. In Haruki’s journey towards finding his next hobby, he discovers a new sport that he can throw himself into, literally. With the intention and belief that it’ll become a huge success at school, Kazuma and Haruki, along with other supportive friends, establish the Breakers, the first all-male cheer squad!
Now, for some, cheerleading may not be considered a “real” sport, but for the fanatics, it is! It involves a ton of physical fitness, skills, coordination, and teamwork; either in competition, as support and/or for entertainment. Cheerleading also incorporates gymnastics, dance, and strength training, so there’s more to it than just catchy cheering and chanting. Moreover, cheerleading is breaking the gender barrier, as more co-ed groups are rising in popularity. So cheers to that, it’s definitely something to flip out about!
9. Tiger Mask W
- Episodes: 38
- Aired: October 2016 – July 2017
Tiger Mask W is a sequel to the original Tiger Mask. Tiger Mask W centers on the story of two “Tigers”, Naoto Azuma, the new tiger mask, and Takuma Fuji, tiger the dark. Starting off as two wrestling friends, they part ways over time in their attempt to defeat the wrestler Yellow Devil and the wrestling organization called the Tiger’s Lair. The reason of their fall-out was the styles of fighting used. As the two recently faced each other in a match, both were unaware of who the other was underneath their mask. Match after match, Naoto and Takuma’s purpose remains the same: to destroy the Tiger’s Lair!
Tiger Mask W brings a lot of nostalgia to many who use to watch wrestling, was obsessed with the WWF in the 90s and actually thought it was all real. For those who came after this era, no need to feel excluded, as the sport of wrestling continues to fuel its enthusiasts with over-dramatics, scripted and entertaining plots/twists, and most importantly, the signature moves to end the round, getting the crowd all amped up! When we see these very features in Tiger Mask W, it’s hard to ignore, especially when hanging by your feet and suplexing a bear is part of training!
8. Days (TV)
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: July 2016 – December 2016
It’s the final score to determine if the Seiseki High School team will win the match. The ball is kicked towards the goal, but will it make it into the net? Or get blocked by the goalie? Oh the suspense! Days kicks off by introducing us to two guys, Tsukushi Tsukamoto and Jin Kazama. Both guys have a passion for all things soccer, except Tsukushi is a novice and Jin is extremely skilled. As the two polar opposites meet in a random encounter, they forge an unlikely bond. In awe of Jin’s expertise in soccer, Tsukushi practices and studies everything there’s to know about the sport, in the hope that he will grow as an accomplished player like Jin.
Tsukushi and Jin are two individuals with contrasting personalities that progressively change for the better throughout the series. From the start, Tsukushi is a nervous and somewhat clumsy character, and Jin has this conceited air to him. Moving along, Tsukushi develops confidence and Jin grows more approachable. When the guys jump into their first game, Jin reminds us all of an important message from sports: to go out and have fun! Even after getting battered and beaten by the ball, Tsukushi gives it his all. Essentially, Days reminds us that the word “can’t” is meaningless when you have a certain goal in mind.
7. Prince of Stride: Alternative
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: January 2016 – March 2016
Prince of Stride: Alternative follows the Honan Academy Stride Club. Striding, in contrast to basic running, resembles the disciplines of parkour and freerunning. In this club, teams of six members, divided into five runners and a navigator, compete against other teams by maneuvering through obstacles to reach the finish line. In its current state, the Stride Club doesn’t appear ready for any wins, until they are introduced to Riku Yagami and Takeru Fujiwara. As manager Nana Sakurai tries to revive this sport at the Academy, we observe the team transform with a lot of help from dedicated practitioners. Now, get a running start on watching this anime!
A simple story, Prince of Stride: Alternative highlights a newer type of sport on this list, Parkour. Parkour encompasses movements developed and influenced by military obstacle course training. By maneuvering without equipment through complex environments, traceurs/traceuses utilize such speed and precision to make the sport appear all too easy. However, this sport requires one to be put to the challenge, physically and mentally. Popularized in the late 90s, Parkour is a sport that can be practiced both individually and as a group.
6. All Out!!
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2016 – March 2017
All Out!! introduces us to Gion Kenji, a high school student who is short, but makes up for what he lacks with an upbeat and spunky personality. In this anime, we are also presented with Iwashimuzu Sumiaki, Hachiouji Mutsumi and Sekizan Takuya, who at different times join the school’s rugby team. In the introductory scenes, shorty Gion comes to the defense of towering Iwashimuzu, as some bullies have him cornered. In a scenario you normally don’t see, the two instantly become acquainted. Further into the series, Hachiouji is the one that brings Gion into the world of rugby, asking Gion and Iwashimuzu to watch a scrimmage. From that moment, Gion is drawn to the action and excitement. When signup commences, we get to see in action, each player’s level of rugby skills, in addition to meeting the team captain, Sekizan Takuya. Overall, we observe these independent and unique personalities come together for rugby to ultimately become the best team in the league.
Even though All Out!! touches base on a story outline similar to most sports anime shows, the major selling point is that it shares what Rugby is all about. For those unfamiliar with the sport, All Out!! clues us in on basic terminology and rules and the pure intensity. For those who know a little sumthin sumthin about it, they are able to easily tackle the hype and enthusiasm around the game. Additionally, this anime provides us with great characters, a lot of action scenes, and humorous moments.
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: October 2016 – December 2016
“Booty, Booty, Booty, Booty rockin’ everywhere!” Keijo!!!!!!!! is an anime about a fictional competitive sport that pits well-endowed ladies against one another in wrestling-like fashion upon a platform floating on water. The only methods of attack that these ladies can use are … their boobs and butt! The sport of keijo is so serious that there is an institution dedicated to training prospective keijo participants. Sweeping across the country, many young ladies train and participate as keijo players to become the next national champion and win the first place prize!
Probably the silliest and only fictional sport on this list, Keijo!!!!!!!! is definitely a hilarious and one-of-a-kind anime. It may not make any sense to try and rationalize how a sport like keijo can draw anyone’s interest besides all the fanservice. Nevertheless, we can appreciate the creative design of the story and essentially the development of this unique sport. Content writers really put a lot of detail into the mechanics of keijo, including special training techniques and “scientific” data, overall highlighting the fighting spirit. Moreover, this anime is reminiscent of many reality competition shows to date, as opponents try to knock each other down in order to win lavish grand prizes.
4. Yowamushi Pedal
- Episodes: 38
- Air Date: October 2013 – July 2014
Yowamushi Pedal is a story about Sakamichi Onoda, a happy, optimistic guy who is eager to join his school’s anime club. Unfortunately, due to little membership, the anime club has been disbanded. Determined to get it going again, Sakamichi starts the process of revival and recruitment. Again, with little luck, Sakamichi decides one day to make his regular trip to Akihabara, a 90-kilometer ride round trip, when suddenly Shunsuke Imaizumi, an avid cyclist, meets him along the way. As the school is recognized as prime location for cycling training, Shunsuke is in awe with the way Sakamichi is able to trek such distances with his “mom bike”. From this moment, Shunsuke challenges him, proposing that he will join the club if Sakamichi wins, but does he?
Many may question where the excitement lies when it comes to cycling, but rest assured, the exhilaration does occur gradually when we watch Sakamichi progress in the sport. Throughout each training session with various cyclists, there is always someone on the sidelines to explain certain techniques and how they are effective or detrimental to riding. Combining practice with skill, Yowamushi Pedal focuses on the story of an underdog becoming the top dog.
3. Yuri!!! on ICE
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2016 – December 2016
Yuri Katsuki is one of Japan’s most promising figure skaters. However, his perception changes when his skating routine places him in the lower rankings at the Grand Prix Finale. Absorbed in defeat, Yuri reassesses his skating career. When he reconfirms that skating is what he wants to do, Yuri is determined to get back on the ice in tip-top shape. Coming back onto the scene, Yuri finds that he’s going to have to bring his A-game, seeing that all his competitors are in it to win it. Following this anime, we watch the intense drama unfold, as the guys are ruthless, going to great lengths to be recognized as the best. “You’re as cold as ice!”
Yuri!!! on Ice is an anime taking on the scene by storm, as the sport of figure skating is one of the most popular events to watch during the Winter Olympics. During this time, stakes are high and competition heats up as a number of countries gather and participate in such beautiful and heartfelt routines. Moreover, upon it’s airing, we couldn’t help but find ourselves inspired, visiting our local ice skating rinks, in an effort to gracefully glide like Yuri!
2. Ping Pong The Animation
- Episodes: 11
- Air Date: April 2014 – June 2014
“Can I be like you? ‘Cause I wanna be. A hero appears!” Ping Pong The Animation follows two friends, Yutaka “Peco” Hoshino and Makoto “Smile” Tsukimoto, two extremely talented and gifted Ping-Pong players. We watch the story unfold as Peco and Smile compete as members of the Katase High table tennis club, all the while juggling the struggles of growing up. An interesting anime utilizing an unorthodox form of animation, this series is one that sparks fascination from the start!
As mentioned prior, Ping Pong The Animation has a distinguishable art style, unconventional to what we normally see, but one that is fitting for the overall theme of the series. Rough lines and edges paired with subdued colors, the creators really wanted viewers to focus on Ping-Pong as an art, along with the assorted players, the unique forms, and the overall intensity in each match. Ping Pong The Animation also contains really great character development, as they are all very engaging and distinctive. In its entirety, this anime is truly one of a kind, giving us exposure to a sport that normally isn’t spotlighted on the sports scene.
- Episodes: 25
- Air Date: April 2014 – September 2014
Haikyuu!! is a comedy, sports drama that motivates anyone who doesn’t succeed the first time, to try and try again. Hinata Shoyo is inspired by a volleyball legend to revive his middle school’s volleyball club. Hinata and his teammates involve themselves in such intense training that they eventually reach tournament levels. Unfortunately, in their first match, they lose against the famed “king of the court,” Tobio Kageyama. Nonetheless, Hinata’s tenacity remains, swearing to beat Tobio at all costs. As time goes by, going into high school and joining the school’s team, he finds that Tobio is on the team as well. Once viewing Tobio as his competition, the two rivals discover qualities in themselves that the other lacks. Depending on one another, Hinata and Tobio must learn to put the past behind in order to bring the team to the top.
“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Haikyuu!! captures the spirit of perseverance and unity, letting everyone know that it’s never too late to pick up something, and with the help of friends, become good at it. Haikyuu!! also exposes an intense realism in volleyball. Additionally, the animation is fantastic, very gritty, offering viewers various play-by-play angles of the team practicing and competing. With an incredibly huge fan base, this title is definitely one that will not disappoint!
We hope you enjoyed our choices for top 10 sports anime! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out all of these great titles! With so many exciting shows in existence, we couldn’t leave you without mentioning a few others like Cross Game (2009), the Initial D franchise, starting with First Stage (1998), Air Gear (2006), Bamboo Blade (2007), and Ro-Kyu-Bu! (2011). The sports genre in anime is a popular one, highlighting a variety of activities, leaving us in anticipation for what productions will roll out with next! So keep your eyes on the prize!
As such, let us know if we’ve missed any other great sports anime by commenting below! See ya!
Ever since the dawn of time, we humans have evolved to have to needs in indulging ourselves in physical activity to stimulate our motoric functions, whether if it’s running, jumping, or even doing the somersault. Since then, thanks to the brilliant minds of humans, the simplest physical activities have developed into amazing creative sports, attracting more individuals to partake in sports and eventually giving birth to sports legends.
Sports stars such as David Beckham, Michael Jordan, Novak Djokovic and much more have contributed in making the sport itself an incredible thing. And just like how those characters have revolutionized the sporting event, anime have also created a wind of change to how people perceive sports, in hopes to inspire more generations of youth to become the next sporting icon. So here’s the updated version of Top 10 Sports Anime that has sparked many fans into loving the sport itself!
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Nov 2004 - May 2005
Starting the countdown on number 10 of this list is Major. The plot centers around Honda Gorou and his dream of becoming a famous Major League batter just like his father. Unfortunately, his father’s baseball career came to an end when he suffered severe injuries, forcing him to retire from the baseball scene. It was a bitter pill that Gorou had to swallow, seeing his father as well as his idol unable to continue playing baseball anymore but this unfortunate event became a tipping point as to Gorou’s motivation to pursue a baseball career himself.
Major is a very amazing anime baseball series and a very memorable anime for a lot of people in the anime world. With 6 seasons in total, the characters development in the series is brilliant. As each season brings Honda Gorou one step closer of establishing a name for himself, a lot of viewers were able to relate to his journey in reaching his goal. This is why the series deserves to be on this list of Top 10 Sports Anime.
9. Prince of Tennis (The Prince of Tennis)
- Episodes: 178
- Aired: Oct 2001 - Mar 2005
When a tennis prodigy, Echizen Ryouma joined the Seishin Gakuen Junior High School, he was able to prove his skills and becomes a regular in the tennis team. This opened up a whole new world for Ryouma, as he learns to face many new different formidable opponents, eventually making him face the struggles and hardships of losing. But ultimately benefits him too, as he picks up a trick or two from those match-ups.
Next on the countdown is Tennis no Ouji-sama, or better known as the Prince of Tennis. This series is hands down, the best-known tennis anime of all times, earning this series the number 9 spot on this list. With great depiction of the sport and unique mindset of a tennis player from an anime perspective, this series won’t disappoint you!
8. Eyeshield 21
- Episodes: 145
- Aired: Apr 2005 - Mar 2008
After successfully passing the entrance exam and getting accepted at the Deimon High School, Sena Kobayakawa thought that he could finally use a fresh start, and finally leaving his past days of being bullied into being a lackey all behind. Unfortunately, his peaceful days were short-lived as he was yet again bullied into being the errand boy by Kazuki Jumonji, Koji Kuroki, and Shozo Togano, a trio who is soon known as the Ha-Ha Brothers.
Jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, after successfully escaping the trio in a chase, he was then kidnapped by Yoichi Hiruma, the Quarterback of Deimon Devil Bats, to play as the Running Back after noticing how fast Sena could run. From then on, Sena became deeply involved with Deimon’s Football Club, eventually falling in love with the sport itself.
Just like what was written in the opening paragraph of this list, anime has an amazing way to inspire and influence people on a peculiar level. And this anime is a good example for it. Despite the fact that American Football is a sport that is rarely known in other countries aside from its original country, the existence of this anime truly open the eyes of many that remained oblivious before. Thanks to its clever and creative depiction of American Football, people become interested in the sport itself in real life as well as the anime, making this series number 8 on the list.
7. Yowamushi Pedal
- Episodes: 38
- Aired: Oct 2013 - Jul 2014
Yowamushi Pedal is an anime that centers on Onoda Sakamichi, an otaku fanboy obsessed with anime who ends up being a competitive cyclist. It all manifested from when Onoda was motivated to cycle round trips to Akihabara, the land of otaku to get extra anime merchandise having to be able to save money from train tickets. Thanks to his love for anime, Onoda eventually got involved with Sohoku High Bicycle Club, his school’s bicycle club and joined them later.
This anime has an uncanny resemblance of what would happen in real life, most of it anyway. It features a clever way of making the protagonist develop his skills and talent of cycling through his love for anime and his cheapskate nature which made the characters development in the series so exciting and help this anime secure its spot on number 7 of the list.
6. Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club (Free!)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 2013 - Sep 2013
‘Free!’ is an anime about a group of friends who happen to be in a swimming club together. The plot mainly centers on Nanase Haruka, a child prodigy in swimming and his swimming buddies from elementary school; Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki, and Rin Matsuoka who separated after participating in a swimming relay race tournament.
As fate brought them back together, Nanase Haruka, together with both Makoto Tachibana and Nagisa Hazuki was reunited in the same high school. Rin Matsuoka, on the other hand, moved to Australia after the tournament and eventually moved back to Japan and entered a different high school. From then on, Rin developed a rivalry with Haruka, as both determined to compete with one another in an epic swim-off.
Overall, this anime is a great one, due to the fact that it only focuses on the character’s development, it also features their friendship and brotherhood amongst Haruka, Rin, Makoto and Nagisa, which is a beautiful thing. Why is this anime in the number 6 of the list? Because it’s Free!
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2014 - Sep 2014
Inspired after watching a volleyball match by a team called “Little Giants”, Shouyou Hinata was determined to compete in volleyball by reviving the volleyball club in his middle school. Unfortunately, when it was his first time to compete, they had to play against a formidable opponent Tobio Kageyama, who was known as the ‘King of Court’. Despite Shouyou’s team that consists of bad players, it didn’t faze him. Upon losing his first match, Shouyou worked hard and when he joined a volleyball club in high school, he was reunited with his old rival, Tobio Kageyama.
Here’s a sports anime that features volleyball, a sport that is quite uncommon for males. The series did an amazing job showcasing what the protagonist had to go through in order to achieve his goals, and that brought the viewers a ticket to ride in the feels train. Not only does it make you emotional but the series also packs a comedy slice that will interest you even further about this anime, sealing the deal on the number 5 on the list.
4. Ace of Diamond (Diamond no Ace)
- Episodes: 75
- Aired: Oct 2013 - Mar 2015
Being a dedicated baseball player, Sawamura Eijun was lucky enough to be approached one day and received an invitation to attend one of the most elite schools that has a prominent baseball club. However, seeing as how he had to move and leave his teammates behind, Eijun isn’t that thrilled to accept it. After hearing this news, his teammates gathered and deeply encourages Eijun to accept the offer and go win the Nationals in their stead, seeing as their baseball abilities will only hold him back.
Sawamura Eijun took the offer and met Miyuki Kazuya after joining his new baseball club. From there on, both Kazuya and Eijun helped one another to achieve a common goal, and that is to conquer the Nationals.
Number 4 on the list is none other than ‘Diamond no Ace’. The portrayal of the loyalty and friendship of Eijun’s friends and teammates can be emotional. In the total of 75 episodes long, this anime had successfully highlighted the ups and downs of Eijun’s journey, receiving popularity amongst the anime fans and making the series secure the number 4 spot on the list.
3. Kuroko's Basketball (Kuroko no Basuke)
- Episodes: 75
- Aired: Apr 2012 - Jun 2015
“The Teiko Middle School basketball club. An incredibly strong team with over one hundred members and three consecutive championship wins. Even with that brilliant history, a group of five prodigies known as the “Generation of Miracles stood above the rest. However, there was a strange rumor concerning the Generation of Miracles. Despite being relatively unknown and lacking a game record, there was one more member recognized by the five prodigies. A phantom sixth man.”
Kuroko no Basket is an awesome anime that features a below average player named Kuroko Tetsuya, and his clever way of approaching basketball. As we all know the common stereotype of being a good basketball player are determined by their heights, agility, stamina, and shooting skills. Kuroko Tetsuya is a perfect example of being none of the above.
Thanks to Seijuro Akashi’s mentoring, Kuroko discovered a whole new way to play basketball. Using a ‘misdirection’ technique, similar to the sleight of hand technique commonly used by magicians, Kuroko was able to utilize his low presence in the court to intercept opponent passes, and redirect passes to the team. He then became the phantom 6th man of the “Generation of Miracles”, a shadow if you will. Join Kuroko’s journey in basketball as he joins Seirin High School and competes with his former fellow teammates.
2. Fighting Spirit (Hajime no Ippo)
- Episodes: 75
- Aired: Oct 2000 to Mar 2002
Imagine yourself constantly being treated like the loser, getting bullied every day, that’s what happened to Ippo Makunouchi. After a fortunate twist for Ippo as he was saved by Takamura Mamoru, a boxer, when he was in the midst of being bullied, Takamura then took him to Kamogawa boxing gym and introduced a whole new world of boxing to Ippo. He then realized that it was somewhat of his calling to dwell in boxing. Thus begins the journey of Ippo rising up to the challenges he may face in the boxing ring and conquering them one fight at a time.
Next on number 2 of the list, this anime is an honorable mention and must-see anime for anime fans out there. Aside from the beat-down loser status of the protagonist, the series did a magnificent job turning him into a true contender through painstaking training and motivational drive. Believe this, when you watch this series, you will feel just as motivated as Ippo when it comes to fights and journey.
1. Slam Dunk
- Episodes: 101
- Aired: Oct 1993 to Mar 1996
Who could ever forget Hanamichi Sakuragi’s infamous signature red hair? Or the jiggling fat on the chin and belly of Coach Mitsuyoshi Anzai? These are few of the many things that made Slam Dunk such a fun anime to watch. Hanamichi Sakuragi, the series’ protagonist, is an arrogant, self-centered delinquent, who through basketball, discovered his true calling in playing the sport itself.
Old but gold, is the best way to describe this anime. Having been the oldest anime that made it on this list and earning the number 1 spot nonetheless, this is a testament as to how powerful of an impact Slam Dunk has brought on sports-genre anime. Despite the lack of quality state-of-the-art animation like anime nowadays, the story and concept of this particular basketball-themed anime were enough to make this series a legendary one.
So that’s it for the Updated Top 10 Sports Anime! Does watching some of the anime above makes you want to join and participate in a sporting club? Do you think anime has the ability to motivate people watching into actually trying out some of the sports that exist in real life? What’s your favorite sports anime? Be sure to leave them in the comments below what you think about sports anime!
Not as famous as Dragon Ball Z or Naruto kind of shônen anime, yet the sports anime genre are numerous and cover many different types sports. From the most common ones, like football or basketball, to some more unconventional for anime types, like swimming or cycling. Sadly, these types of anime are rarely broadcasted on the main TV channels outside Japan, but it would be a shame to miss some of them! There are many great sports anime (way more than only 10) and I tried to make a list of my Top 10 for you. Here we go!
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2013 – Sept. 2013
An anime with lots of fan service for … women! That’s quite rare in the sports category so it had to be noticed. Apart from that it is a good anime with great quality graphics and it focuses on swimming which is rather original!
Following Haruka Nanase, a talented swimmer who loves to be immersed in water. After losing a race against his old friend and ex-partner Rin Matsuoka, he decides to form a new team with the Iwatobi High school swimming club in order to defeat his new rival.
9. Yowamushi Pedal
- Episodes: 38
- Aired: Oct. 2013 – Jul. 2014
Yes, this is an anime about cycling, and no, this isn’t boring at all as some people could think like I did before watching it! With great characters, a good storyline, lots of fun and motivating songs, Yowamushi Pedal has what it takes to be part of this Top 10. Note that there are also 2 movies and a side story.
Sakamichi Onoda is an otaku with no friends. When entering high school he decided to enter the anime club to make new friends but this one had been disbanded. However, while trying to find people to join the club in order to re-establish it, someone noticed him riding his bike on a steep road and unexpectedly invites him to join the bicycle club.
8. Prince of Tennis
- Episodes: 178
- Aired: Oct. 2001 – Mar. 2005
Now talking about Tennis, here is the most famous anime in this sport: Prince of Tennis. Adding to the 7 seasons, there are many OVAs and movies, plus the sequel named New Prince of Tennis. A great anime that will keep you busy for a long time!
The story focus on a young tennis prodigy named Echizen Ryoma who joined one of the best tennis school in Japan in order to surpass his father, a former pro player. He will meet there many teammates and have to overcome many obstacle to find his own style of tennis and reach his goal.
7. Captain Tsubasa
- Episodes: 128
- Aired: Oct. 1983 – Mar. 1986
What would be a list of the best sports anime without Captain Tsubasa? This is probably the most notorious sports anime all over the world. We could even say that it is comparable to Dragon Ball Z in its own genre. It clearly had an impact on many children as it did for me and will always have a special place in my heart. In total, 227 episodes have been released (including the sequels Captain Tsubasa J and Road to 2002), 14 OVAs and 4 movies!
11-year-old Tsubasa Ozora just arrived to his new school in the town of Nankatsu but he quickly imposed himself as the major and best player of the school football team. The story follows his evolution playing against great rivals and joining the national team of which he will become the emblematic captain.
6. Eyeshield 21
- Episodes: 145
- Aired: Apr. 2005 – Mar. 2008
This is one of the only anime focusing on American football. One that makes you feel like searching for a club and try your luck at this sport. It also helps a lot to understand the basic rules and positions in American football. I personally really enjoyed it! Note that there are also 1 special episode and 1 movie.
Following Sena, a supposedly weak and coward new high school student, but having huge natural acceleration and speed skills. This won’t go unnoticed by the devilish Hiruma, captain of the Deimon Devil Bats American football team. Instead of becoming the new manager, Sena finds himself thrown on the pitch as a mysterious running back named Eyeshield 21. With Hiruma and Kurita they will start to climb the ranks and try to reach the Christmas Bowl while recruiting talented new players on the way.
- Episodes: 154
- Aired: Nov. 2004 – Sept. 2010
As most of the anime listed here, you can also find 3 additional OVAs and 1 movie. Putting apart the unreal abilities or skills that are countless in many sports anime, Major focus more on a real experience with amazing characters and a truly heart-breaking story that won’t leave you indifferent.
Major’s story follows Gorou Honda, a young baseball pitcher and son of the Major league batter Shigeharu Honda, from the Little league to the Major one. However, his life is not that simple as alongside his passion, he will have to go through many joyful as painful moments…
4. Slam Dunk
- Episodes: 101
- Aired: Oct. 1993 – Mar. 1996
There are also 4 short movies of around 40 or 45 minutes relating some side stories. Slam Dunk could be considered as a pioneer of sports anime, and even though it is a bit old, it still remains one of the best.
Sakuragi Hanamichi is a freshman at Shohoku High school with a bad reputation: he got rejected by 50 girls during Middle school! Moreover, his appearance makes him often classified as a delinquent. One day he meets Haruko Akagi and immediately falls in love with her. In order to gain her heart, he pretends loving basketball and joins the school basketball team. Soon it will become way more important to him than he would have imagined…
3. Kuroko no Basket
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: Apr. 2012 – in progress
In 3rd place is another basketball anime, much more recent though. Kuroko no Basket is one of the most trendy sports anime of nowadays. Compared to some other anime listed here, this one clearly goes into the unreal with overwhelming special powers and crazy moves. However, this makes it really fun to watch. Adding to that, the characters are really likeable and well distinguished and the animation is great! Whether you like Basketball or not doesn’t matter, if you never watched it, try! You won’t regret it.
The Teiko Middle school basketball team was famous for its “Generation of Miracles” composed of 5 incredibly skilled starting men. After winning several seasons in a row, they went separate ways to different high schools. Yet few people noticed there was a 6th player that was part of this generation. His name: Tetsuya Kuroko. He is now part of the Seirin High School basketball team with the naturally talented player Taiga Kagami, and they are planning to defeat every member of this legendary generation.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr. 2014 – Sept. 2014
Only 1 season done and it’s already one of the best sports anime there is, as of today! I can’t tell you how much I’m waiting for the next season, which is scheduled for October this year! One thing that makes it already different from the others are the characters, they are no superheroes! They have to face defeat before getting to know the taste of victory and need to practice hard for that purpose. Plus, you won’t find any super skills here, it’s all based on reality! All of this makes you feel way closer to the characters.
Following Shouyou Hinata, a middle school student passionate about volley-ball. Even though he's always been the only one of his school volley-ball club, he never stopped practicing hard until he finally got the opportunity to play a tournament with his schoolmates against other middle school teams. Sadly, he is the only player of the team having good basics skills in this sport, and they eventually get crushed by their first opponents leaded by Tobio Kageyama, also known as “The King of the Court”. In order to get better and defeat this new rival, Shouyou entered Karasuno High School which has the volleyball team that made him discover this sport. Little did he expect, Tobio is in the same club…
1. Hajime no Ippo
- Episodes: 75
- Aired: Oct. 2000 – Mar. 2002
It was pretty hard to decide but I chose Hajime no Ippo as my number 1 selection in this Top 10. How many times did I find myself repeating the same moves seen in this anime? A lot! This is a great show, ultra-motivating and showing how somebody who's supposed to be weak and without any talent can become really good a something through passion and hard work. Adding to the 75 episodes, there is also 1 special episode about Takamura’s debut, 1 OVA, 1 movie and 2 sequels named Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger (26 episodes) and Hajime no Ippo: Rising (25 episodes). And the best thing is that a 4th season will be released this year!
The story focuses on Makunouchi Ippo, a nice high school student having problems making friends as he spends all his free time helping his mother at their fishing company. He regularly gets bullied by other students and seems unable to react against it until he meets Takamura, a young and on-the-rise boxer. That’s when Ippo discovers a new passion and it marks the very beginning of his hard path towards glory.
Other sports anime
* Big Windup!(Baseball), * Chihayafuru(competitive karuta: a card game based on Japanese poetry), * Kaleido Star(Circus), * Ping Pong(table tennis)
So that was my Top 10! Of course, this is my opinion and I had a lot of trouble deciding, as they are all great anime. What would be your Top 10 selections? Let us know below in comments!