In the past few years, sports anime have become extremely popular to the point that in every season at least one series that type comes out. Of course, they were present in the past as well, but they didn’t have such a large audience and viewership. Here are recommendations along with the reviews of some sports anime, both new and old styles. There should be anime series fit for any kind of audience, from “plot” lovers to sports fans who enjoy the hype.
Best Sports Anime
- Kuroko no Basket
- Hajime no Ippo
- Diamond no Ace
- Slam Dunk
- Cross Game
- Baby Steps
- Yowamushi Pedal
- Prince of Tennis
- One Outs
- Area no Kishi
- Eyeshield 21
- Ookiku Furikabutte
- Over Drive
Other names for this series are HQ!! or High Kyuu!!
Number of Episodes: 60 episodes (3 seasons), 2 OVAs and 2 recap movies
Manga: ongoing with 200+ chapters
Plot: The story follows Hinata Shoyo who, after getting inspired while watching Karasuno High School’s volleyball match with the ace nicknamed “Little Giant”, started his own volleyball club in his middle school. Despite his small stature and the fact that he was the only club member, Hinata succeeded in persuading his friends to help him in order to participate in an official match. After finally coming all the way, Hinata overwhelmingly lost to Kitagawa Daiichi Junior High’s “King of the Court” Kageyama Tobio. This marked the end of Hinata’s middle school life and thus, Hinata made it his goal to defeat Kageyama and get his revenge.
Later, Hinata entered the infamous Karasuno High School, but finds that his rival, Kageyama, has also entered the same school. How will Hinata get his revenge if Kageyama has become his team mate now? And what will happen when the two of them are forced to work together in a game? Follow the story of growth, friendship, rivalry, packed with lots of comedy and feels, and see Karasuno High School become the champions once again.
Review: This is one of the best sports anime series as of late. It features lots of characters and shows the growth of every one of them. Moreover, you not only grow to love the main characters, but other schools’ as well. Don’t miss out on this series filled with comedy, hype and lots of emotional scenes.
“Even if we’re not confident that we’ll win, even if others tell us we don’t stand a chance, we must never tell ourselves that!”— Sawamura Daichi
2. Kuroko no Basket
Other names for this series are Kuroko’s Basketball and The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays.
Number of Episodes: 75 episodes (3 seasons) + 1 movie sequel, 3 OVAs, 9 specials and 3 recap movies
Manga: finished with 286 chapters + a novel with 36 chapters
Plot: In the past, the existence of five genius players, known as the “Generation of Miracles” have been noted. Thanks to them, Teiko Junior High School has been crowned as the champion three years in a row. But, even though just a rumor, it has been speculated that a sixth phantom player existed who was acknowledged by all five prodigies.
Years later, at the entrance ceremony in Seirin High School, two new outstanding students joined the basketball club – Kagami Taiga, a student who just came back from America, and Kuroko Tetsuya who claims to have been a regular at Teiko Junior High School. The senpai found it hard to believe, since with his small stature and lack of basketball abilities Kuroko couldn’t have been a regular, but their opinion changed after watching him take action in one of the practice games. Together with Kagami, Kuroko stated that he wants to defeat the Generation of Miracles and claim the championship with Seirin, and that he wants to make Kagami the best player in Japan. Follow the story of broken friendship, past regret, character growth and lots of comical and frustrating scenes.
Review: This series has been a huge hit during the time it has been airing. It was loved, not only by the female audience, but by the male audience as well. This series is packed with action, fanservice for both males and females, comedy and frustration as you follow the growth of every individual.
3. Hajime no Ippo
Other names for this series are Fighting Spirit and The First Step.
Number of episodes: 128 episodes (3 seasons) and 1 OVA
Manga: ongoing with 1100+ chapters
Plot: This is the story of Makunouchi Ippo who, having been bullied his whole life, decided to change himself. One day, when Ippo was bullied, he was saved by the boxer Takamura Mamoru. After Ippo regained consciousness, Takamura asked Ippo to punch a punching bag with a photo of his classmate on it. After experiencing this, Ippo asked Takamura to train him in boxing, but Takamura, deeming it impossible, gave Ippo an a task he was sure Ippo could not carry out with a time limit of one week. Thus, Ippo starts training in order to accomplish the task he was given. What will happen when Ippo actually manages to carry out the impossible task and Takamura is forced to train him per promise? Follow the journey of a boy striving to become the best boxer in the world.
Review: This is a popular all-rounder series, which started it all. One of the first successful sports series which was animated by none other than Madhouse. The story is full of action, comedy, struggle and character growth which we all can relate to. This story will not leave you indifferent, so don’t miss out on it.
“Not everyone who works hard is rewarded, however, all those who succeed have worked hard!”— Kamogawa Genji
4. Diamond no Ace
Other names for this series are Ace of Diamond and Daiya no Ace.
Number of episodes: 126 episodes (2 seasons) and 3 OVAs
Manga: ongoing with 450+ chapters
Plot: The plot follows the pitcher Sawamura Eijun who, after losing the final game with his middle school team, suddenly gets an invitation to come and play for the famous Tokyo private school Seido. At first, Sawamura rejected that invitation since he planned to continue playing baseball with his former team in high school as well. Having heard that, Takashima Rei, the scout, forced Sawamura to go to Tokyo to watch one of Seido’s trainings.
There, Sawamura picks a fight with a batter who demands a match against him. But, without a catcher Sawamura can’t fight and no one wants to take his side. Luckily, Miyuki Kazuya, a catcher, decides to help Sawamura. After this experience, Sawamura decided to accept the invitation and thus his high school life in Seido begins. But, what will happen when Sawamura finds out that he can’t even make first string, much less play in official games?
Review: This is a story of a gutsy pitcher who, despite everything, never gives up on his goal to become the ace and go to Koshien. With time, you will learn to love every character and their unique personalities. You will also experience lots of feels during defeats and struggles the characters go trough. Of course, besides that, this series offers action, rivalry, hype and comedy at its best. Definitely worth watching.
5. Slam Dunk
Number of episodes: 101 episodes (1 season) and 4 movies
Manga: finished with 276 chapters
Plot: The main character is Hanamichi Sakuragi who enrolls into Shohoku High hoping to finally get a girlfriend after getting rejected 50 times already. But, because of his temper, massive height and red hair, he is mostly avoided by the other students. But, one day, Hanamichi meets a girl named Haruko Akagi who asks him whether he would like to join the basketball club. Hanamichi immediately falls for her, and despite his hate for basketball, he accepts. Trying to impress Haruko with his skills, Hanamichi tried to do a slam dunk, but instead he head-butted the blackboard. After witnessing such inhuman jumping power, Haruko informed the club captain, and thus Hanamichi became their newest member.
Review: The series, though old, still has the same impact as one of the newer series. It is a goldmine full of comedy and action. We can easily relate to the main character who grows to love basketball, which he hated before. This is a story of dreams come true.
“If you give up, the game is already over!”— Mitsuyoshi Anzai
Another name for this series is Chihayafull.
Number of episodes: 50 episodes (2 seasons) and 1 OVA
Manga: ongoing with 150+ chapters
Plot: The series is centered around Chihaya Ayase, a strong-willed and energetic girl, who is constantly in the shadow of her older sister and her beauty. But, one day she meets Arata Wataya, a transfer student, who introduces her to competitive karuta. Chihaya soon learns to love the sport and, together with her childhood friend Taichi Mashima, she joins the local Shiranami Society to train. But, as life would want it, Arata moved away, and the trio split up.
Now, years later, Chihaya became a karuta freak and is desperate to start her own Municipal Mizusawa High Competitive Karuta Club. After reuniting with Taichi, she forces him to join the club and help her find new member so they could participate in tournaments and win at the Omi Jingu. But, what will happen when Chihaya comes in contact with Arata once again? Will she be able to keep her promise and compete against him after such a long time?
Review: This is a heartwarming story about broken friendship and love. Together with Chihaya, experience the wonderful world of karuta as she finds new friends and introduces karuta to them. Of course this series doesn’t lack in comedy, hype and feels, so don’t forget to watch it.
7. Cross Game
Number of episodes: 50 episodes (1 season)
Manga: finished with 170 chapters
Plot: Kou Kitamura is the son of the owner of Kitamura Sports. His family is on good terms with the Tsukishima family, who run a batting center in the same neighborhood. Due to this, Kou and Wakaba, who were the same age, became very close. They spent most of the time together, you could also say it was a child’s love. But, one day, Wakaba went on a trip and unexpectedly died in an accident. This leaves Kou completely devastated.
Years later, Kou enters high school and trains to become a great baseball player without showing any interest in it openly. He also encounters many problems with Wakaba’s younger sister Aoba. Aoba is a natural pitcher with excellent form and she despises Kou, but he has no idea why. What will happen when Kou finds out the reason for Aoba’s behavior? And will Kou ever start playing baseball seriously?
Review: Even in the first episode, the series leaves a great impact on the viewer. It draws you in and makes you wonder what will happen next. The story is highly emotional, especially the death of Wakaba, but the pain will soon go away with the comedy and romance.
8. Baby Steps
Number of episodes: 50 episodes (2 seasons)
Manga: ongoing with 250+ chapters
Plot: The series follows the honor student Eiichirou Maruo, nicknamed All-A due to his perfect grades. One day, Eiichirou decides to use his available free time to exercise a bit to improve his health and thus joins the Southern Tennis Club. There, he meets Natsu Takasaki, a girl the same age, who is determined to become a professional tennis player. After getting to know her better, Eiichirou starts getting drawn in by her love for the sport and starts enjoying it himself.
Little by little, Eiichirou grows better and better, and realizes that what he wants is to become a professional tennis player. But, will his mother accept his decision to neglect his studies completely? And will a complete beginner and late bloomer like Eiichirou be able to make it in time?
Review: This is a story that perfectly depicts the struggles a person faces while aiming to become a professional player, especially if you start late like Eiichirou. The character growth is something we should all strive for. Don’t miss out on this series, which is also packed with romance, action and lots of comedy.
Another name for this series is Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club.
Number of episodes: 25 episodes (2 seasons) + 1 movie and 8 specials
Manga: it is an original series
Plot: This story’s main character Haruka Nanase has a great passion for swimming and loves water. In elementary school, along with his friends Rin Matsuoka, Nagisa Hazuki, and Makoto Tachibana, he was part of the swimming club, After they won a tournament, their elemantary school closed and the four friends parted ways.
Now, in high school, they meet again, but Rin has changed. He did not care for their friendship, but was only concerned with beating Haruka, who was the fastest of the four. With changing Rin’s mindset as their goal, they form the Iwatobi High School Swim Club. Without enough members, they set out to search for students who would join and thus Rei Ryuugazaki, a former track team member, joins. Now, they can participate in the tournament and defeat Rin to prove to him that he is wrong and to try to repair their broken bond.
Review: This series has really great “plot” and is the dreamland of any fangirl. If you enjoy watching comedy, friendship, rivalry and lot of muscles, don’t forget to put this masterpiece on your list.
10. Yowamushi Pedal
Another name for this series is Yowapeda.
Sport: Road cycling
Number of episodes: 62 episodes (2 seasons) + 1 movie, 1 OVA, 6 ONAs, 1 movie and 1 recap movie
Manga: ongoing with 250+ chapters
Plot: The plot centers around Sakamichi Onoda, an otaku, who looks to join the anime club in his new school. But, after finding out that the club got disbanded, Onoda tries to recruit members himself and revive the club, but he has zero luck.
One day, he meets a fellow first year student and cyclist named Shunsuke Imaizumi. While witnessing Onoda climb the steep incline with his mommy bike, Shunsuke was surprise, since that should have been impossible with such a bicycle. Then, he challenges Onoda to a race, and if Onoda wins, Shunsuke promises to join the anime club. Determined to recruit him, Onoda accepts. But, what will happen when Onoda joins the bicycle club instead?
Review: This anime can completely change your view on bicycles. While you learn about road cycling, bicycles and how to maintain them, you will also encounter lots of dramatic moment, action and, of course, comedy.
11. Prince of Tennis
Another name for this series is Tennis no Ouji-sama.
Number of episodes: 242 episodes (9 seasons), 18 specials and 3 movies
Manga: finished with 382 chapters
Plot: Ryoma Echizen just joined the Seishun Academy’s tennis team, which is known for being one of the most competitive teams in Japan. Ryoma is deemed a prodigy in tennis and is determined to prove himself, so he can finally overcome the shadow of his legendary father. There, he meets Sakuno Ryuzaki, a clumsy girl who gets attached to him. Follow the story of a boy striving to surpass his father and aim for the top. Together with his other team mates, Ryoma pushed himself to his limit to achieve their goals and dreams.
Review: By no chance is this a series to pass by. It is worth the 200+ episodes every seconds. Not only does it depict the struggle of achieving ones goal, but also the psychological stress which comes from high expectations and the desire to surpass ones own parent combined with comedy and action.
12. One Outs
Another name for this series is ONE OUTS Nobody wins, but I!
Number of episodes: 25 episodes (1 season)
Manga: finished with 175 chapters
Plot: The story begins with Hiromichi Kojima, a star batter in Japan’s Pacific League, who goes of Okinawa to train and bring himself out of a slump. There, he meets Toa Tokuchi, an athlete by profession, but a reckless gambler at heart. With a fastball pitch of merely 134 km/h, he managed to achieve 499 victories in the game of One Outs. After Kojima challenged him and lost, he makes a declaration. In a limited amount of time, Kojima will train and challenge Toa once again. If Kojima loses, he will never play baseball again, but if he wins, he gets to do whatever he wants to Toa’s arm. What happens when Toa loses the bet for the first time? And what will become of Toa when Kojima, instead of breaking his arm, asks him to join his club to be their pitcher?
Review: This is one outstanding series. It is different from the others in many ways. The story centers around gambling and the players’ psychology. Toa uses many tricks and mind games to defeat his opponents, but he is not the only one. Once you start watching this action packed and mind blowing series, you just can’t stop.
13. Area no Kishi
Another name for this series is The Knight in the Area.
Number of episodes: 37 episodes (1 season)
Manga: ongoing with 150+ chapters
Plot: Kakeru and Suguru Aizawa are brothers who both have a flaming passion for soccer. But, while the older brother, Suguru, becomes a rising star player, Kakeru plays the role of the manager, staying away from the ball as much as possible. Due to his weakness on his left side caused by trauma of hurting a former comrade, Kakeru distanced himself from the ball, but his brother forces him to play in order to prove to him that he is wrong, and that he is one of the strongest players in the team. The next morning, while his Suguru was trying to explain his intention to Kakeru, they were both his by a truck. Unfortunately, Suguru did not survive, but due to him protecting his brother, Kakeru survived.
Struggling to overcome his brothers death, Kakeru takes his diary and in it discovers all of the dreams and plans his brother had for him. Determined to fulfill them all, Kakeru sets out to join the high school with the genius midfielder Ryuichi Araki. But what will happen when Kakeru discovers that the facts that he is alive is due to the transplant of his brother’s heart? And what problems will occur with Kakeru’s sudden memory lapses during which he displays Suguru-like behavior and skills?
Review: This is a truly heartwarming series. It is always hard to see the ones who were left behind after someone’s death, especially family members. In this case, it may just double the pain and tears. Even though the anime is full of comical scenes, interesting characters, action and character growth, it will leave you in tears in just the first episode.
14. Eyeshield 21
Sport: American football/rugby
Number of episodes: 145 episodes (1 season), 1 special and 1 movie
Manga: finished with 333 chapters
Plot: The series revolves around Sena Kobayakawa, a timid and shy kid, constantly targeted by bullies. When he, one day, refuses to act as the bullies’ errand boy, Sena makes for an incredibly quick escape, a skill he has honed for years. This all was seen by the american football club’s captain Youichi Hiruma, who was amazed by Sena’s agility and speed. He forced Sena to join the club and to protect his identity, Hiruma gives him a visored helmet and the nickname “Eyeshield 21”. Soon, Sena learns that he actually likes the sport and, together with his team mates, aims to win the championship.
Review: Witness the transformation of the timid Sena to an outstanding player who clears the way to victory. Don’t pass this comedy with fabulous characters and action. It will leave you wanting more.
15. Ookiku Furikabutte
Other names for this series are Oofuri, Ohkiku Furikabutte, Swing Big! and Big Windup!
Number of episodes: 38 episodes (2 seasons) and 2 specials
Manga: ongoing with 100+ chapters
Plot: Ren Mihashi was the ace of his middle school’s baseball team, but due to his poor pitching, they could never win. Because of that, Mihashi was bullied by his team mates and he decided to quit the team. Because of this, Mihashi decides to go to a high school in a different prefecture where he has no intention of playing baseball. But, upon entering Nishiura High, he is dragged into joining their new team as the only pitcher. There, with the help of catcher Abe Takaya, Mihashi slowly but surely regains his confidence as the team grows into a strong one. But, what will happen when Nishiura High goes on a practice match against Mihashi’s former team mates? And what when they find out that it was not Mihashi’s fault that they were constantly losing? Abe, seeing the potential Mihashi has, makes it a goal to help him become a pitcher worthy of being called an ace.
Review: This is a sweet story of rediscovering oneself and gaining confidence which was lost due to certain reasons. It is really worth watching, especially since the characters are very interesting, and despite the action this series offers, you can still see the child-like behavior. Don’t miss out on this comical tale of friendship and growth.
16. Over Drive
Another name for this series is Overdrive.
Sport: Road cycling
Number of episodes: 26 episodes (1 season)
Manga: finished with 145 chapters
Plot: Shinozaki Mikoto is a shy and small-statured 15-year-old, who is always playing the errand boy for his senpais. One day, Fukazawa Yuki, the girl whom Shinozaki admires and loves, recommended him to join the cycling club where her brother Fukazawa Yousuke is the captain. Shinozaki accepts, but there is only one problem, he doesn’t know to ride a bike. Thus, Shinozaki makes himself a goal of learning how to ride a bike in order to join the club. What talents will a late bloomer like Shinozaki show? Will he be able to change himself and impress Yuki? How will he cope with the strain of the first race he ever participated in, and will he even be able to last until the end of the race?
Review: Despite the small amount of episodes, the story successfully depicted the struggle a complete beginner has while pushing his limits. Even though the series is full of comical and romantic moments, it also offers lots of action and frustration.