One of the things the COVID-19 situation has taught the public is the importance of maintaining your physical and mental well-being. Sports not only motivate people to stay in shape, but the activity involving a balance between physical capacity and skill also encourages one to adopt a healthier mindset.
Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or simply an avid audience of related visual mediums, sports anime will be one of the most passionate and rambunctious shows to keep an eye on. Its emphasis on profound friendships, overcoming innumerable barriers, and lighthearted fun will get both sports fanatics and amateurs to join in the fun.
Boxing: ‘The First Step (Hajime No Ippo)’
Introverted high school student, Ippo Makunouchi, helps his mother run their family fishing business. His lack of a father figure in life also makes him an easy target for bullies, until one day, an up-and-coming boxer Mamoru Takamura rescues him from being a punching bag.
When Ippo is taken to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym for recovery, he impresses Mamoru and the other trainee boxers with his potent punches and strength gained from his years of helping his mother. The Studio Madhouse anime franchise sees Ippo beginning his career in boxing and crossing paths with exceptional opponents with dynamic attitudes to their craft.
Basketball: ‘Kuroko’s Basketball (Kuroko No Basuke)’
Adapted from Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s popular sports manga series, Kuroko’s Basketball starts with the little-known Seirin High School basketball team searching for new members to participate in the upcoming Interhigh Championship.
Recruiting two first-year students with massive potential raises their hopes of conquering the competition. The hot-blooded Taiga Kagami, who had just returned from America and has a natural aptitude for the sport, and the cool-headed Tetsuya Kuroko, a member of the infamous Generation of Miracles who dominated the national basketball scene in middle school.
Swimming: ‘Free! Iwatobi Swim Club ‘
The main protagonist of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is high-school student Haruka Nanase, who bears a passion for swimming since he was in elementary school. After encountering his former childhood friend, who has become engulfed by his sole goal of beating Haruka in a swimming race, Haruka decides to form the Iwatobi High School Swim Club alongside his two other childhood friends, Makoto Tachibana and Nagisa Kazuki.
The trio also recruits Rei Ryuugazaki, a former track team member who lacks swimming skills, to qualify for the upcoming swimming tournament. Together, they undergo an intense training regime while simultaneously developing a more profound connection that overlooks vastly different personalities.
Table Tennis: ‘Ping Pong the Animation’
Speaking of polar opposites, two childhood best friends, nicknamed Peco and Smile, are members of Katase High School’s table tennis club. While Peco looks to have a knack for the sport, his over-confidence renders him idle to the point of skipping practice. Smile’s quiet and gentle attitude to the sport instead keeps him from reaching his full potential despite his innate talent.
After an ex-national player from China overwhelmingly defeats Peco, he becomes devastated and begins to question why he played ping-pong in the first place. On the other hand, the team’s coach realizes Smile’s potential and is adamant about motivating Smile to overcome his psychological hindrances.
Undeterred by his fun-size stature, Shouyou Hinata enrolls in Karasuno High School after being entranced by one of the high school’s volleyball players nicknamed “The Little Giant” and his astonishing abilities in the sport.
Armed with zeal to become a professional volleyball player, Shouyou has to overcome prejudice from others concerning his less-than-advantage height and learn to cooperate with his teammates. Joining forces with Tobio Kageyama, a volleyball wunderkind with incredible setting skills, Shouyou proves everybody wrong with his extraordinary athleticism and remarkable enthusiasm for his game.
Soccer: ‘Giant Killing’
After losing five matches in a row, East Tokyo United (ETU) fans are disappointed and slowly turning their backs on the team. In the face of financial problems resulting from poor player hiring decisions and countless coaches being fired, ETU reaches for their last resort – Kousei Gotou, ex-player of ETU and now a coach of one of England’s lower division amateur teams.
Although fans of ETU are dissatisfied with the hiring of Kousei due to his alleged abandonment of the team years ago, his unorthodox way of management led ETU to emerge from its slump despite coming up against teams with bigger budgets and better players.
Figure Skating: ‘Yuri !!! On Ice ‘
Apart from being an LGBTQ + friendly anime, Yuri !!! On Ice astonishes both sports and anime fans with its beautiful choreography and posing as a riveting introduction to the world of figure skating.
Yuuri Katsuki was once Japan’s most promising figure skater until he was defeated at the Grand Pix Finale. Unable to cope with his loss, Yuuri returns to his hometown in Japan but soon catches the eye of five-time world champion Victor Nikiforov. After watching Yuuri’s viral video of performing the Russian figure skater’s routine, Viktor is convinced of Yuuri’s potential, thus becoming his mentor, and is relentlessly determined to get Yuuri back on top of the game.
Like Hajime No Ippo‘s protagonist, Eyeshield 21Sena Kobayakawa is a timid and self-effacing boy enrolled in the Deimon Private High School. After angering a group of delinquents, Sena utilizes his remarkable speed and agility to escape from getting beat up, a skill gained from his years of running away from his bullies.
Sena’s incredible ability is observed by the captain of the Deimon Devil Bats football team – Youichi Hiruma, who forcibly recruits Sena despite the latter’s lack of enthusiasm. Sena’s lukewarm response to football soon changes when he endeavors to help the Devil Bats to acquire the high school football championship known as the Christmas Bowl.
Cycling: ‘Yowamushi Pedal’
Tired of having no friends to share his interest in anime culture, Sakamichi Onoda decides to join his new school’s anime club. Upon discovering that the club is disbanded for its lack of members, Sakamichi assumes the responsibility of reviving the club by finding three new members.
When Sakamichi became disheartened by his fruitless efforts, he would be engaged in a weekly 90-kilometer ride he had been completing since the fourth grade. Fellow first-year student and serious cyclist Shunsuke Imaizumi notices Sakamichi’s massive potential and is determined to recruit him to join their school’s bicycle racing club.
Baseball: ‘Ace of Diamonds (Diamond No Ace)’
After the crushing defeat in his final middle school baseball game, ace pitcher Eijun Sawamura and his team vow to reach the national tournament when they are in high school. A scout distinguishes Eijun’s unpredictable pitching style and offers him a chance to join Tokyo’s prestigious Seidou High School. Eijun’s teammates encourage him to take the offer, allowing Eijun a better opportunity to play more competitively.
The new life at Seidou High proves to be not all smooth-sailing when Eijun struggles to find his place on the new baseball team. Surrounded by skilled and talented players, Eijun is even more resolute in his dream of becoming the team’s ace and Seidou High being the best team in Japan.
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