I uses to wonder why anyone watched sports anime. Why not just play it or watch on tv? It can’t be more entertaining than real thing, right? Turns out it can be or at least sports anime is a different kind of entertainment. Regardless, I learned to love some anime sports. The best sports anime create drama through the characters and matches, while explaining the rules of the sport. I prefer series that allow the protagonists to lose from time to time. Even if the main character is a prodigy, even body loses in sport. At least sometimes. My top five are:
5. Air Gear
Air Gear is the least realistic of the anime on this list. Air Gear is an in-universe invention that is based on inline skates. Itsuki Minami “Crow” is the main character. Air Gear focuses on Ikki and his friends as the try to climb to the top of Trophaeum Tower. Personally, I preferred the manga to the anime because of the amazing art of Ito “Oh Great” Ogure. The anime isn’t true to the manga series leaving out some story aspects. Overall, Air Gear is fun, high action comedy anime.
4. Prince of Tennis
The Prince of Tennis series from Takeshi Konomi. Adapted from the manga in 2001, the series featured several OVA’s, 178 episodes and a movie. I love Tennis. It’s my favorite sport, so seeing it get the anime treatment was exciting. The animation in this series isn’t great, but the dramatic matches, and the dynamic presentation of tennis is entertaining.
3. Ping Pong the Animation
The first thing you notice when watching Ping Pong the Animation is the animation style. Rather innovative the art style is fluid in motion and the line work is phenomenal. That said, its unique styling isn’t going to work for everyone. Some characters can look deformed at times, but I didn’t find it of putting. The series focuses more on the characters than you would expect. Ping Pong the Animation is a complex series, with electrifying animation, and good character building.
2. Yuri on Ice
I only pay attention to Ice Skating during the winter Olympics. So when I kept hearing about Yuri on Ice I wasn’t convinced I would like it. After the first episode I was hooked. The ice skating was well done. With great music, camera angles, choreography, and animation Yuri on Ice stands out. However, it’s the characters that makes the series great. The main characters Yuri Katsuki, Yuri Plisetsky, and Victor Nikiforov all feel real. At the same time the secondary characters all have interesting stories. You hope they skate the best routine, and are heart broken when they fall.
Volleyball is one of those sports that everyone thinks they can play. It was one of the sports I was required to play in basic gym class. Most of the class was uninterested in the game, but if you grade depends on participating you better try. It was surprisingly fun to play once everyone got involved. Haikyuu reminded me of this moment. Turns out real volleyball isn’t that easy. Haikyuu explains the strategies to the audience. Like Yuri on Ice, this series has amazing animation that works well with the action. Centered around the short Hinata and his antagonist/best friend Kageyama, Haikyuu is awesome. Balancing emotion, with dramatic action, and the occasional loss, Haikyuu is the best sports anime in my opinion.