The proliferation of sports in anime has grown over the decades and there have emerged some truly thrilling sports series that you can enjoy whether or not you are a fan of the sport in question. There are a ton of different sports anime about a variety of sports, from volleyball to swimming to table tennis and more.
Although sports anime has yet to reach the heights of fame of other anime drama and action series, it is a growing sector of the art form that typically combines light scenes and exciting to adorable characters. Naturally, most of these sports anime deal with the recurring theme of teamwork and overcoming obstacles, but they are still impressive and inspiring.
While trying to highlight different types of games, here are 10 anime that focus on the world of sports.
Easily one of the most recognizable sports anime in recent history, Haikyu!! follows the misfortunes of a little boy named Hinata Shouyou who instantly falls in love with volleyball after watching a championship game on television. Determined to become a star player himself, he joins the college volleyball club and suffers a crushing defeat. His determination remains strong even until high school, where he and his former adversary must put aside their differences and work together on the same team. This series sheds a lot of light on volleyball as a sport and provides viewers with some truly exciting and hilarious moments. At the heart of the show, however, is the power of teamwork and loyalty through ups and downs.
This sports anime focuses on water polo and follows a young boy who loses his memory after a car accident and quits the sport. However, when he enters high school, with the help of his friends, he joins the water polo team. To stay (the old term for “offside” in water polo) is a brilliant and fun anime, with plenty of emotional moments, but what stands out is the character development of protagonist Minato, whose struggle against amnesia becomes a powerful plotline throughout the series. It’s one of the newest anime on the list, having debuted in 2021, and the animation style is absolutely stunning.
Free! Iwatobi Swimming Club
Another water based sports anime with brilliant animation, Free! is an uplifting and thrilling drama about the love of sports. When elementary school swim buddies reunite in high school, they form a swim club to fuel their passion and engage in fierce competition. The beauty of the series is in the bromance between the characters. He also succeeds in getting the message out about loving a sport, rather than just competing to win. There’s a lot of comedy in the show and emotional moments that help ground the characters and make them all the more relatable.
ping pong animation
Noted for its unique and quirky animation style, ping pong animation is a brilliantly written story about the sport and all the tactics and strategies involved. With just 11 episodes, it packs a quick binge and delivers a riveting storyline about the internal and external struggles of five ping pong prodigies as they rise through the ranks of the sport. While the unorthodox animation is a hit or a miss for fans, the story is what really makes the series a standout. Sports scenes are further amplified by awesome techno music.
A favorite among sports anime lovers, Kuroko’s Basketball follows the journey of two basketball players, Kagami and Kuroko, who aim to make their high school basketball team the best. While Kagami has returned from America and has exceptional skills, Kuroko has a secret talent. A feel-good anime with a ton of hilarious moments, this is an anime that gets the message across about the power of teamwork. The character development is noted by fans as some of the best in sports anime in recent times, and although some characters start to be disliked, most viewers end up supporting them as the series goes on. progress.
Another basketball anime on the list, and one of the most realistic sports anime created, slam dunk is one of the oldest sports anime and a pioneer of the genre. It follows Sakuragi Hanamichi, a high school freshman who joins the basketball team to win over his crush. In a positive turn of events, he falls in love with the sport and becomes a much better player. The characters in this series are very well written and the comedic factor makes it a fun watch even decades later.
Yuri!!! On the ice
At 12 episodes long, Yuri!!! On the ice is a perfect binge for an incredibly moving and original story about not giving up on your dreams. When figure skater Yuri retires from his biggest competition yet, his dreams of success hang in the balance. However, things start to look up when a famous world champion takes him under his wing. As they train for the next competition, an emotional journey of love for the sport – and for each other – unfolds. The music serves to amp up the emotional tone of this series, and its realistic love story shines even amid such a demanding sport.
This list wouldn’t be complete without an anime focused on the most popular sport in Japan: baseball. The original manga of this anime was created by Higuchi Asa, who was a softball player and has a degree in sports psychology, which helped her create this anime. Emphasize self-confidence and the power of teamwork, Big liquidation! is a refreshing story about baseball and the strategies and tactics involved in the sport.
A moving sports anime about determination and strength, fighting spirit follows Ippo, a young student who has become a constant target of bullying by his classmates. One fateful day, he is saved from a bully by a boxer named Takamura, and thus begins Ippo’s quest to become the strongest version of himself and rise through the ranks of the boxing world. There’s a lot of character growth in the series, and like the others on this list, it offers insight into the sport.
The Prince of Tennis
Tennis prodigy Ryuoma Echizen returns from America and enrolls in a Japanese academy to become the country’s best player. Still living in his father’s shadow, he goes through identity struggles and continues to push himself, losing sight of the beauty of the sport along the way. This series has great characters and fun scenes. It’s worth mentioning that the depiction of the real sport is quite exaggerated and there are enough unrealistic tennis moves to blow any professional tennis player’s mind.