Anime shows nowadays focus on any topic under the sun. Some revolve around the life of a shinigami, ninja, or an assassin. Some revolve around a sport like basketball or soccer. Have you ever wondered which sports series are the best? Such curiosity motivated me to come up with this article. Creating this list was really hard as I had to narrow it down to 10. If you think I missed an anime series worthy of mentioning, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. Have a good read everyone!
10 Best Sports Anime
Prince of Tennis
Hajime No Ippo
Hungry Heart: Wild Striker
10. Dear Boys
One unique aspect of this basketball anime series is that the protagonist team only has five members. They have no substitutes since most of their members quit, including their coach, after a serious conflict. It was the effort of Kazuhiko Aikawa who managed to maintain the team. They were able to convince the girl’s basketball team coach to help them as well. She doesn’t only treat them as average basketball players but her “dear boys.”
The team is very talented. They worked hard to improve their stamina and skills since nobody will be there to substitute for any of them. Opposing teams try to exploit this weakness but fail to do so. Their never-ending perseverance to be better and incomparable trust with one another has made them a formidable team in the regional tournament and even one of the best in Japan.
Kappeita Taira, popularly known as Capeta, was simply a young boy who aspired to ride a go- kart. His fascination to the sport grew and his father noticed it. He eventually drove a racing kart for the first time but it was just a rundown model. Nevertheless, the spectators admired his skills as he almost overtook a famous driver who was on the circuit. From then on, Capeta was hooked. With the help of his father and other people who believed in his talent, he eventually becomes one of the best Formula One racers in Japan.
There are three factors which made this anime series unique and exciting. First, every kart race is different from the others. The series manages to add spice to the narrative. Second, you’ll learn basic and even advanced kart racing information along the way. This anime series can be beneficial for those who are aspiring to or currently participate in racing competitions. Finally, Capeta will teach you about courage. The main protagonist in this story will even risk his life just to reach the goal first, which is a perfect manifestation of dedication and courage.
8. Captain Tsubasa
So what sets apart Captain Tsubasa from other soccer anime series? First of all, this series is a classic. It was first released during the 80s yet its popularity today is still very strong. This anime series features the Japanese youth team headed by a prodigious captain named Tsubasa Oozora. The best thing about our hero is that he values teamwork and friendship above all. Despite having the talent to score relentlessly on his own, he prefers to work together with his team. This act of humility separates him from high-scoring captains and strikers of other teams.
You can learn basic rules about the sport by simply watching this show. The animation may not have aged well but the thrilling and well-written storyline is more than enough for Captain Tsubasa to take a seat among the best sports anime.
7. Hungry Heart: Wild Striker
Kyosuke Kano has great childhood memories together with his brother, Seisuke, as they played soccer. Nonetheless, the two parted ways when Seisuke became a famous soccer player. Everyone had high expectations for Kyosuke but he failed to live up to them. He eventually grew to hate the sport and stopped playing. But after meeting Miki Tsujiwaki, his passion towards the sport was rekindled. He persevered to improve and reach his brother's success.
Hungry Heart: Wild Striker is all about an unknown soccer team and their struggle for glory. They were not even considered a worthy opponent before Kyosuke appeared. The road was never easy since his skills were unpolished after years of not playing. Nonetheless, his friends, teammates, and brother were always there to give him support and encouragement. This anime is proof that being an underdog is not a total disadvantage!
Hungry Heart: Wild Striker Opening
6. Eyeshield 21
Sena Kobayakawa was a shy and timid boy until he met Yoichi Hiruma, the Deimon High American football team captain. Without even noticing, Sena developed superb running and evading abilities since he was often chased by bullies during his junior high years. At first, he is reluctant about joining such a physical sport but he eventually grows to love the thrill and challenge after facing one strong opponent after another. The team slowly gathers strong members who never fail to assist Sena in leading the Devil Bats towards victory.
This anime series centers on the importance of teamwork and friendship. It also illustrates that even the most impossible dream can be achieved through never-ending hard work and resilience. Who would have thought that a wimpy kid in junior high would end up as one of the best quarterbacks in Japan? Indeed, this anime series proves that anything is possible with a determined heart and mind.
Major is an award-winning anime series about a talented baseball pitcher, Goro Honda. His talent in the sport was evident even when he was as young as five. This is not surprising since his father is a renowned baseball player as well. However, his life has been nothing but tragic. Both his mother and father have died. His right arm also gets injured during a junior high tournament. Despite all these challenges, Goro never thought about quitting baseball. Instead, he uses all these hardships as inspiration to hone his skill even more and reach his goal of becoming a professional baseball player.
This anime series is among the best because of how it portrays the importance of friendship and teamwork. You don’t need to have innate skills at something to excel at it. In the end, nothing beats determination and perseverance to fulfill even the most impossible dream.
4. Hajime No Ippo
Hajime No Ippo is an anime series like no other. It features the life of Ippo Magunochi, a shy boy who has innate talent in boxing. Ippo was a common subject of bullies because he just didn’t want to fight back. He meets a famous heavyweight boxer who discovers his true potential. IPA's punching power can only be matched by a few. His special move, the Dempsey roll, can penetrate even the mightiest defense and bring any opponent down to the canvas.
The main factor which made this anime so great is the lessons that every fan can learn from it. Courage and persistence are only a few. Ippo shows how anyone at the top should act. He became Japan’s champion in his weight division yet he stays humble. Unlike most champions, he still considers himself an underdog in every fight and won’t back out to any fight despite the odds against him.
Hajime No Ippo Opening
3. Prince of Tennis
Prince of Tennis is a good anime to watch for fans of the sport. The story revolves of the Seigaku High tennis club and their quest to win the national championship. But one team member by the name Ryoma Echizen stands out among the rest, not just because of his genuine skill but mainly because of his age. He is known as the "Prince of Tennis" because he is small for his age. Ryoma became a regular member as first year student since he beat strong regulars during the ranking matches. Everyone was amazed by his speed, power, and wit in playing tennis. Others even believe that he is the hope of the Seigaku tennis club and worthy to be the next team captain.
Millions of fans across the globe got hooked to this series because they find Ryoma so adorable. He’s not the typical hero seen in other sshows. He is very vocal in taunting his opponents. Prince of Tennis is certainly not boring as it is loaded with tons of tennis action.
Prince of Tennis II Opening
2. Slam Dunk
Slam Dunk focuses on the struggles of the Shohoku High basketball team. Hanamichi Sakuragi is the inexperienced forward who to tries to lead the team to be the best in Japan. Our hero did not initially love the sport. In fact, he hated it since most of the girls that rejected him usually end up dating someone who has a connection to basketball. Everything changed when he met Haruko Akagi, the sister of the team captain. Sakuragi instantly fell in love with Haruko’s innocence and sweetness. He found no better way to capture the young lady’s heart than join the basketball team and prove that he can be a legendary player.
Slam Dunk is considered one of the best anime when it comes to sports because of its perfect mixture of humor and action. The anime also encourages you to be passionate about what you are doing and never giving up in achieving your aspirations in life. It’s a rare series which shows how a punk can turn into a superstar through hard work, determination, and a handful of luck.
A Video Inspired by Slam Dunk!
1. Kuroko's Basketball
Tetsuya Kuroko plays basketball like no other. Most of us focus on shooting, dribbling, and dunking in this sport but he preferred to be an expert in passing. His exceptional ability made him worthy of being the phantom 6th man on the team of Japan’s prodigy players during his junior high years. To the surprise of his former teammates, Kuroko enrolled in a newly established school named Seirin High. The school’s basketball team is not weak but they lack experience. One of his previous teammates demanded him to leave his team and joined theirs but he refused. Kuroko is eager to defeat his former teammate’s respective schools and prove that basketball is not a game that can be won solely by individual talents.
Kuroko repeatedly states in the series that his playing style can be compared to a shadow; he means that he needs a huge source of light. Good thing Taiga Kagami, an energetic forward who aspires to be the best in Japan, joins the team. They may often argue on various matters but on the court their teamwork is a thing of beauty.
sush on April 13, 2020:
Haikyuu is one of the best sport anime
Mohan on June 24, 2018:
Why is haikyuu... not in the list?
It is a awesum anime...and i think it must take the first place...
Rolls on August 31, 2017:
..... no haikyuu?
Vel on July 05, 2017:
Ace of Diamond is sooo underrated
the champion on May 07, 2017:
you forgotten about inazuma eleven
Aomine on January 05, 2016:
Kurko no basket it is not unrealistic and a trillion times better than slam dunk kuroko no basket must be first i think
Dawnie Moore from Perth, Australia on February 15, 2015:
This was a great list! I absolutely love sport anime. I haven't had the chance to check out Slam Dunk, but I heard it's a fantastic show. Kuroko no basket is currently my all time favourite with Prince of tennis coming in second. Eyeshield 21 was one of the first anime I've ever watched, so it has a special place in my heart.
Anyway, that was very insightful.
Andrew Po on October 03, 2014:
Kuroko's Basketball is totally unrealistic, but so very fun. I loved it and can't wait for the next season.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on September 23, 2014:
wow, you sure are a anime fanatic. Lots of anime i haven't watch yet. Thanks
HirumaRuma on August 25, 2014:
Prince of Tennis is definitely the best!
But In my opinion Eyeshield 21 should be no.2
kridai on May 28, 2014:
loved slam dunk sooo sooo much..the best sports anime i've seen .just waiting for another sports anime similar to it,I know kuroko is similar but you know what it doesn't even comes closer to it.....ohhhh slam dunk was
just like WOW!!!!!!
lilikatra on May 20, 2014:
so.....where is inazuma 11 go series?????the anime is very very good why the anime is not at list????
Sanchay on April 17, 2014:
Inazuma eleven must get a place in the list
Zelkiiro on March 12, 2014:
@Sergio: It is true that Ashita no Joe is an important series in the sports anime genre, but on its own, it's not exactly spectacular. And don't be tempted to tout something influential as the best--after all, West Side Story was a very influential musical, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who can claim it to be one of the best.
Sergio on March 09, 2014:
This Top 10 is ok, but is really broken because misses the most important sport anime which is Ashita no Joe.
My number#1 is without a doubt Major, every season is so interesting and varied, it is never tiring
Eric Riley from California, USA on March 01, 2014:
Not a bad list, I like it. One mistake though: the picture you have for Captain Tsubasa is the Nankatsu SC Team, NOT the Japanese Youth Soccer team.
Edward on September 30, 2013:
Great list thought you made a mistake on the article about Majors though. It's baseball not soccer. :D
Matt on June 03, 2013:
Big windup is also a great one
Frank on May 01, 2013:
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Jessica on March 30, 2013:
I think that Knight in the Area should have been mentioned. It is a great soccer anime with a touching story.
Shinichi on March 22, 2013:
you shouldn't forget that inazuma eleven is also the best.and I really agree that kuroko no basuke is in top 10 the best.
Zelkiiro on January 25, 2013:
I'm kinda sad you left out Princess Nine. This, of course, can only mean you haven't yet seen it and recognized its greatness. It's probably tied with Hajime no Ippo for my favorite sports anime of all time.
Ashley from USA on December 21, 2012:
Wow, a great list. Slam Dunk is a must and the newer Kuroko's Basketball is definitely worthy of the list. I was totally hoping to see Cross Game on there, though. Maybe that's more of shougo thing, though...
Anyway, thanks for the list, I think I'll go watch the first one.