Top 10 Best Sports Anime Series
As the genre name suggests, sports anime are shows that feature sports at the center of their narrative. Some popular sports that are featured include, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and football. These shows usually have more grounded stories that mirror what actually happens in real life, but they have the added twist of dramatic cues and lots of intense action and feats.
Since there’s an abundance of sports anime out there, I’ve decided to countdown the top 10 best sports anime for you to consider and add to your watch list. Believe it or not, many kinds of sports have made it to the anime world, even ones that you might least expect. But one thing is common for all of them; they will make you realize that watching sports in anime isn’t that predictable and boring at all. Actually, most, if not all, will get you hooked on the splendor of sports anime action without you even noticing.
Ten Best Sports Anime
- Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko's Basketball)
- Prince of Tennis
- Yowamushi Pedal
- Eyeshield 21
- Baby Steps
- Hajime no Ippo
- Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
- Slam Dunk
10. Slam Dunk
Featured Sport: Basketball
Coming in at number 10 is a classic sports anime that more than deserves to be on this list. For a few hints, this show revolves around basketball. It has exciting stunts that closely mirrors the real game. Last but not the least, it has drama, lots of action, and a really funny comedic side to it. The anime I’m talking about here is none other than Slam Dunk!
Slam Dunk follows the story of freshman high school student Hanamichi Sakuragi. He was rejected yet again by the girl he was trying to court (the girl already liked someone from the basketball team). So, much to Sakuragi’s disappointment, he lashes out his anger to the sport that made him a failure in love. But, when he meets another girl named Haruko who teaches him basketball, he soon comes to love the sport to woo the love of his heart. There are hurdles to be passed though; the elder brother of Haruko, Akagi, is the captain of the basketball team. Haruko's crush, Rukawa, is also the ace player of the team.
9. Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
Featured Sport: Baseball
Here comes another sport that’s a big staple in the anime world. I say staple because it’s one of the most used sports in anime next to basketball. And that sport is baseball. So, taking the number nine slot is Ookiku Futikabutte, also known as Big Windup!
This show seemingly starts off as a slice of life anime. But then, as it gradually picks up, the tension starts to burst. That being said, the show sets you up for a big windup! And that’s a good thing if I must say. The series is realistic yet very exciting. You'll find yourself rooting for the characters.
The story is about a first-year high school student named Mihashi Ren whose self-confidence and self-esteem was totally crushed during his middle school baseball days. He doesn’t want to pursue baseball anymore, but his new school badly needs a pitcher on the mound. While his attitude comes off as selfish to most, he actually has real talent in controlling the ball and his pitches. This skill might be useless given how ridiculously slow Mihashi’s pitches are, but with Abe directing and supporting him, his skill becomes truly a force to be reckoned with.
8. Hajime no Ippo
Featured Sport: Boxing
With a sport as popular as boxing, there had to be an anime that’s centered on the sport. And there is, we have the boxing anime Hajime no Ippo.
Hajime no Ippo shows boxing at its finest. You’ll see many boxing moves in this show that you never thought existed. This series will show you that boxing is a lot more than frantic and random punches. This show teaches us the importance of perseverance and diligence throughout the action and drama of the story.
Hajime no Ippo is about Makunouchi Ippo’s glorious struggle in boxing and in life. He was bullied all his life and was made to do tasks he never really wanted to do. He was a weakling with no confidence. One day, he is found by a boxer named Takamura while being bullied. He is brought to a boxing gym to recover. There, Ippo finds his opportunity and looks to redeem himself. After much thinking and a few tests and hurdles, he decides to pick up boxing as a career to ultimately change and strengthen his weak self and chase his dreams.
7. Baby Steps
Featured Sport: Tennis
Being such an underrated sports anime, I just can’t pass up on adding this one to the list. For one, Baby Steps is very unique to its genre. It takes a whole new approach in sports anime. This anime focuses on tennis, and here we see a character that takes the zero-to-hero route.
Baby Steps depicts the story of first-year honor high school student Maruo Eiichirou and how he came to pick up tennis as his sport. Prior to everything, he’s only just a student with excellent academic standing and no experience in anything physical. But as he started to feel empty and bored, he decided to give tennis a try, not knowing that he’ll soon become very dedicated to it.
Featured Sport: Baseball
It’s baseball yet again, but this time, I present to you one of the longest sports series that actually has an ongoing timeline. That’s Major for you! It’s not just a sports-themed anime, it also presents heavy drama and some comedy on the side. The captivating storyline and spectacular character development are its most effective points. Did I even mention the baseball action?
Major is about the life and career of Goro Honda. He picked up his love for baseball from his father who’s a really great baseball player. But, as his personal life and the sport he loves gets intertwined in a lot of twists and knots (including triumphs and tragedies), he musters up all the strength to go on and stay strong through the sport he loved the most—baseball.
5. Eyeshield 21
Featured Sport: American Football
Standing proud at number five on this list is an anime that’s all about American football. Yes, that would be the sport with all the intense bumping. If I were to describe Eyeshield 21 in one word, then that word would be crazy! The action in this show is so crazy that it’s also very entertaining and humorous. Pairing up with that craziness is the intensity which you’ll never get tired of watching. I knew from the start that American football would be very physical and rough, but I never thought it could get any crazier than that (which is an exceptionally great thing for this series).
Eyeshield 21 follows the story of Sena Kobayakawa, a high school boy who has gained exceptional speed from all his errands and running he did while being bullied. This talent of his was discovered by the devilish bat-like captain of the Devil Bats American football Team, Youichi Hiruma. While Sena was initially just asking to be the manager of the team, he soon finds himself running across the field as the legendary Eyeshield 21, dedicated to bringing the whole team to victory.
4. Yowamushi Pedal
Featured Sport: Cycling
As unusual as it might seem, there’s a sports anime about bicycles and cycling in general. Yowamushi Pedal is actually a feel-good anime that combines the excitement of sports and the peculiarity of competitive cycling. This sport might seem very odd at first, but this show doesn’t fail in trying to cater a brand new and positive perspective towards the sport. The attitude of the main character isn’t as competitive as other protagonists on this list. His attitude shows that playing sports can truly be an opportunity to create new bonds and enjoy the sport for what it truly is—and probably snag some victorious moments while doing so.
Sakamichi Onoda is an otaku who craves anime stuff and wants to join the anime club in his new school. Since he never really had any friends in middle school, he wanted to change this and have some in high school so that he can have some companions to share his hobbies and interests with. Due to his obsession on anime, he travels a very lengthy way with his mommy bike (which actually isn’t suited for long trips and steep roads) to Akihabara, the otaku paradise. With this scenario happening all the time, he unknowingly develops a remarkable talent for cycling, which in turn gets him into his school’s very own bicycle racing club.
3. Prince of Tennis
Featured Sport: Tennis
Personally, Prince of Tennis is one of the first sports anime I’ve watched with a different, albeit sensational, formula at its core. This formula refers to the type of action that might seem out-of-this-world at first yet feels very doable in real life. This kind of action is so spectacular and eye-catching that it’ll make you hold on to your seat until the end of the show. And that’s Prince of Tennis in a nutshell.
The Prince of Tennis is none other than young tennis genius Echizen Ryoma. Despite his age, Ryoma has won a lot of tennis championships already. But no matter how hard he tries, he could never defeat his father. For now, Ryoma enrolls in a school with an outstanding tennis team—Seishun Gakuen. And so, with a great team to play with and lots of obstacles to pass, Ryoma tries to become stronger in order to become one of the best and be able to finally defeat his father.
Featured Sport: Volleyball
Rushing in as the second best on this list is a sports anime that’s remarkably brilliant in terms of its overall plot and the fact that it’s very well-rounded. Action is major part of it, but the storyline and having a strong focus on teamwork and perseverance is a highlight as well. In fact, Haikyuu shows off its brilliance in a really fascinating and enjoyable way while making the viewer feel attached to the players and sharing insightful lessons that are learned in the domain of sports.
Haikyuu follows the story of Hinata Shouyo as he aspires to be a little giant in the field of volleyball. Unfortunately for him, his middle school didn’t have an interest in volleyball, so he resorted to playing the sport with the girls’ volleyball team, the neighborhood old ladies playing volleyball for recreation, and occasionally asking a few friends to toss the ball for him. During middle school, he managed to enter a competition with a sloppy makeshift team only to be defeated miserably by the team led by the King of the Court, Tobio Kageyama. After that experience, he vowed that he would find a high school with a legitimate volleyball team and defeat Kageyama once and for all. But on his first step in high school, during his trip to the volleyball court, he meets the rival of his life trying to join the same volleyball team he is planning to join.
1. Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko's Basketball)
Featured Sport: Basketball
We’ve finally arrived at the top of this list. Playing with a high level of intensity capable of defeating the best of the best, the cast of Kuroko no Basket (specifically the Generation of Miracles) are marching around the court showing off skills that can be considered near-perfect and unbeatable.
Out of all the sports anime that exist, this is the best of them all for me. All the stunts in this show are insane! They might seem impossible and really god-like in terms of execution, but the show never fails to make you feel that the moves are actually very possible to do (but really very difficult). So, with those crazy stunts in play along with the unique attitude of the characters, this show easily fends off the competition not just in basketball but even in this list. That is why it is crowned number one.
In junior high school, there existed a basketball team with a line-up of five prodigies that crushed any opponent that came their way and claimed victory in every match they played. That team was the Generation of Miracles of Teiko Middle School. Years passed and the members of the Generation of Miracles have gone to separate high schools. But unknown to most, there actually exists a phantom sixth player from the Generation of Miracles whose legacy is just about to unfold. That player is Kuroko Tetsuya, and the school he chose to lead to victory is Seirin Gakuen.
Recommended Volleyball Anime
The success of Haikyuu! can be a bit surprising considering that volleyball is not the most popular sport featured in anime. There are only a few other sports anime that feature volleyball. Here are some recommendations.
- Attack No. 1
- Attacker You!
- Attack on Tomorrow
Recommended Basketball Anime
Basketball is particularly popular within the sports genre. As such, there is a fair amount of basketball anime out there. Here are some anime recommendations for those that need their basketball fix.
- Buzzer Beater
- Dear Boys
- Dash! Kappei
Recommended Sports Anime With Romance
Many of the entries on this list focus on sports teams in a high school setting. This common anime setting is often seen in romance series. It's no surprise that these two genres can occasionally merge. Here are some anime series that feature sports and romance.
- Cross Game
- Over Drive
- Princess Nine
Are You an Avid Spectator of the Sports Genre in Anime?
Questions & Answers
How long did it take you to finish watching all ten anime?
Frankly, I don't keep track of the time I spend watching anime. Just consider the following: 1 Anime Episode = 24 Minutes. Let's say an average anime has 12 episodes, then 24 Minutes x 12 Episodes x 10 Anime = 2880 Minutes (48 Hours)Helpful 46