Top 10 Best Sports Anime Series
As the genre name suggests, Sports Anime are shows that works around the themes and premises of sports. That means you’ll find real-life sports such as basketball, volleyball, baseball, and football centered on the plot of the show. These shows are usually true-to-life stories that mirrors what actually happens in real sports but with an added twist of dramatic cues and lots of intense action and feats.
Since there’s an abundance of sports anime already that are truly worth the anticipation and excitement, I’ve come to list down the Top 10 Best Sports Anime (based on my own honest opinion) 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 already (even ones that you might have least expected). But one thing is common for all of them, all of them will make you realize that watching sports in anime isn’t that predictable and boring at all. Actually, all of them, if not most, will get you hooked on the splendor of sports anime action without you ever even noticing.
10. Slam Dunk
Coming in at Top 10 is a classic sports anime that well-deserves to be on this list. For a few hints, this show revolves around the sports of basketball. It has exciting stunts that closely mirrors that of real life basketball. 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. For the very nth time, he was rejected yet again by the girl he was trying to court (for the reason that the girl already likes 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 then teaches him Basketball, he soon came to love the sport to woo the love of his heart. There are hurdles to be passed though; the elder brother of Haruko is the gorilla captain of the basketball team, Akagi, and the crush of Haruko is the ace player of the team, Rukawa.
9. Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
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 the one popularly known as baseball. So, for the #9 slot of this list comes – Ookiku Futikabutte or also known as the Big Windup!
How should I put it? Umm…this show seemingly starts off as a Slice Of Life anime at its early parts. But then, as it gradually picks up, the tension also starts to burst. That being said, it practically statures you up for a literal big windup! And that’s a good thing if I must say. Besides that, most of the stuff in this one are so realistic yet so exciting that you might just find yourself rooting for the characters.
The story presents 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 actually doesn’t to pursue baseball anymore but, his new school badly needs a pitcher on the mound. While his attitude of not letting go of the mound comes off as selfish to most, he actually has pure genius talent in controlling the ball and his pitches. This skill might be useless its own (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
As a lot of people are getting too wild over the sports of boxing already, there actually exists an anime that’s centered on that sport. And that is, the boxing anime – Hajime no Ippo.
Hajime no Ippo is a boxing at its finest. You’ll see many boxing moves in this show you never thought existed. Yes, they exists! And all this time we thought that boxing was only all about frantic and random punches. But well, aside from that, this show teaches us the importance of perseverance and diligence as it exemplifies throughout the action and drama of the story.
Hajime no Ippo is about Makunouchi Ippo’s glorious struggle in boxing and in life. All his life, he was bullied and made to do tasks he never really wanted to do. He was a weakling with no confidence in his own self. One day, he was found by boxer named Takamura lying on the ground after some bullying and was brought to a boxing gym to recover. There, Ippo found his opportunity and the start-off to redeem himself. After much thinking and a few tests and hurdles, he decides to pick boxing as a career to ultimately change and strengthen his weak self and live for the dream of his life.
7. Baby Steps
Being such an under-rated sports anime, I just can’t let it pass like that. For one, Baby Steps is very “new” and “unique” to its genre. By that, I meant it goes by a formula that takes a whole new approach in sports anime. The sports-theme in this one is tennis, and here we see a character that essentially threads the zero-to-hero route whilst making everything he goes through highly-anticipating and surprisingly winsome.
Baby Steps depicts the story of first year honor high school student, Maruo Eiichirou, and how came to pick up tennis as his sport. Prior to everything, he’s only just a student with excellent academic standing and with no experience in anything physical and sporty. But, as he started to feel empty and bored, he decided to give tennis a try not knowing that he’ll soon become very strongly dedicated to it.
It’s baseball yet again but this time, I present to you one of the longest sports series that actually goes by an aging/growing (time skip) 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. Also, its captivating storyline and spectacular character development are its most effective points. And oh, did I ever mention the baseball action?
Major is about the life and sports-endeavor 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 possible (including triumphs and tragedies), he musters up all the strength to live on and stay strong through the sport he loved the most - baseball.
5. Eyeshield 21
Standing proud as Top 5 on this list is an anime that’s all about American Football. Yes, that would be American-style football with all the intense bumping and ball-craze here on - Eye Shield 21! If I were to describe this show in one word, then that would be – crazy! The action in this show is so crazy that it’s also very entertaining and humorous. Also, pairing up with that craziness is the intensity which you’ll never tire-out watching. I knew that from the start that American Football would very physical and rough, but I never thought it could get any crazier than that (which is exceptionally great thing for this one).
Eyeshield 21 follows the story of Sena Kobayakawa, a high school boy who has gained exceptional speed from all the errands and running he went through 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
As unusual as it might seem, yes there’s a sports anime revolving around bicycles and cycling in general. For the strong points of Yowamushi Pedal, it’s actually a feel-good anime that combines the excitement of sports action and the peculiarity of the theme itself. Cycling 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. And the attitude of the main character isn’t as competitive as it should be, his attitude shows that playing sports can truly be an opportunity to create new bonds and enjoy it 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 travels 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
Personally, Prince of Tennis is one of the first sports anime I’ve watched with a different albeit sensational formula in its core. This formula refers to the type of action that might seem out-of-this-world at first look yet feels that it’s very doable in real life. This kind of action is that sort of action that’s so spectacular and eye-catching that it’ll make you hold on to your so 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 he tries, he could never defeat this one person in the world when it comes to tennis – 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.
Rushing in as the second best (Top 2) on this list is a sports anime that’s remarkably brilliant in terms of its overall plot and the fact it’s very well-rounded. Action is major part of it, but the storyline and the impressions of having a strong focus on teamwork and perseverance are nothing sloppy as well. In fact, Haikyuu shows-off its brilliance in a really fascinating and enjoyable way whilst making the viewer very attached to the players and sharing insightful lessons to be 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. Unluckily for him, his middle school didn’t have an interest and edge in volleyball that 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 of the King of the Court, Tobio Kageyama. And so from that experience, he vowed that he will 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)
And so, we’ve finally come to see the top-notcher of this list. Playing with a high-level of intensity capable of defeating the best of the bests, 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 exists, this is the best of them all for me. All 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 competition not just in basketball but even in this list. That is why it was crowned as Top 1 here on this list.
In junior high school, there existed a basketball team with a line-up of five (5) prodigies (given the fact that a prodigy only shows up once in ten years) crushing any opponent that comes their way and claiming victory in every match they play. That team is the Generation of Miracles of the Teiko Middle School. Years passed and the members of the Generation of Miracles have gone their 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.
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)