Sports anime have grown in popularity despite its proclaimed overly ‘niche’ aspect, with some sports anime even taking some spots among the best anime of all time. Only those that have seen decent sports anime will strongly agree with the idea that this genre is spectacular in its own unique way, which most would be surprised by. In fact, one good spots anime is enough to convince doubters of this genre to think otherwise, and even leave them wanting more since sports anime tend to be emotionally stimulating like a drama, but mixed with the suspenseful and intensely thrilling moments in sports.
5. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club
Free! Iwatobi Swim Club surrounds the story of a group of high school boys on the swimming team. Following a reunion in high school with his childhood friends, Haruka Nanase collaborates alongside them to not only revitalize the high school swim club back into top gear but also rebuild their friendship and relationships. Although Free! Iwatobi Swim Club initially gained popularity through its widely regarded fan-service appeal, the anime quickly developed into something more with fans beyond the fan-service taking a liking to its amazing visuals and refreshing atmosphere. The anime is spot-on in terms of character relationships, which only gets better as you progress through the series since things get pretty spicy in later episodes.
In essence, Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is more than what it initially sought out to be since it has developed into a fascinating masterpiece of moving relationships and drama throughout the main characters while also capturing the beautiful aspects of swimming.
4. Pilgrimage to Ippo
Anyone who loves a good underdog story will most likely appreciate Hajime no Ippo in its all too familiar journey of fulfillment. The anime is adored by many as being notably relatable, not exclusively in the sense of professional boxing, but the struggles of Ippo, the protagonist, as a character. Despite being bullied and shy early on, Ippo eventually found his footing and developed a passion for the sport of boxing. Apart from his boxing career, Ippo is a young high schooler determined to make a name for himself through the constant struggles of life in general. Ippo’s newfound inspiration through the boxing world set in motion a beautiful story of development and growth as both a person and an athlete.
Through inspiring messages of determination and passionate motivation, Hajime no Ippo captivates its audience into not only growing love for the story but also developing a sincere attachment to its well-fleshed-out characters and stimulating fight scenes.
3. Yuri on Ice
Yuri on Ice does a tremendous job at captivating the marvelous culture of ice skating through an emotional and heartwarming story with its relatable struggles of failures and glorious feats of success. The anime goes well into detail with each character, making it a story of growth and passion on not just one individual, but a group of individuals as a team. Well-fleshed out characters, and an exhilaratingly emotional rollercoaster of a plot, develops in the audience a sense of emotional connection towards the personas and the story. Yuri on Ice shares the moments of exciting highs and dreary lows, all while inspiring the audience with the persistence to grow individually as a person and as part of a team through meaningful relationships.
Things only get better through the astounding soundtrack and skating choreography. Combine euphonically stimulating music with professionally orchestrated skating routines, and you have one serious artwork of an anime. Yuri on Ice goes beyond an amazing plot and characters through its sensational visuals and music that make the anime just as enjoyable and passionate.
2. Kuroko’s Basketball
Revolving around the popular sport of basketball, Kuroko’s Basketball provides some of the most intriguing and exciting sports series with especially thrilling ball-game scenes. The engaging edge-of-your-seat nature of Kuroko’s Basketball is one of the best and most appreciated among fans, especially with its excellent plot and charming cast of characters. In fact, Kuroko’s Basketball is so highly renowned by fans, basketball enthusiasts, and athletes that it is even considered a well-worthy successor to the popular classic called Slam Dunk. The anime brilliantly portrays climactic basketball moments with well-detailed visuals and facial expressions for that dramatically rousing feeling of not just watching, but rooting for the team to win. Despite its reasonably unrealistic depiction of basketball, the anime doesn’t stray too far from true-to-life basketball abilities since pro-ball like the NBA regularly encounters some mind-boggling skills and human feats that most would only dream of.
Kuroko’s Basketball has a notably unique protagonist, named Tetsuya Kuroko, for a sports anime since he is not the All-Star member, but the supportive team player that helps his teammates improve as players. Tetsuya Kuroko is more of a role-player that excels at deception and misdirecting opponents to confuse and throw them off whether or not he has the ball.
The anime is so well emotionally in-tune with the core concept of teamwork and relationships since the characters and their interactions with each other portray deeply meaningful bonds leaving the audience feeling moved and a sense of attachment.
Haikyuu is an anime and manga series surrounding the sport of volleyball. It is about former rivals, Tobio Kageyama and Shouyou Hinata, coming together as high school teammates along with everyone else as part of the Karasuno High Volleyball Team. As newfound teammates, the former rivals work together with their volleyball team as they strive for their goal of competing in the national tournament.
Throughout the anime, there are many characters including Tetsuro Kuroo and the rest of the volleyball players, a coach, faculty advisor, and a couple of managers. The cast doesn’t end there since the members have friends, families, and the opposing teams, which also have their own individually named members, faculty, and loved ones. Despite the high number of characters throughout the series, each character is well-fleshed-out and more or less lovable and good-natured in their own distinct ways.
Not only do the characters satisfyingly develop throughout the series, but they also form deep connections and bonds with one another, especially the teammates. Haikyuu portrays excellent character development, a compelling plot, suspenseful volleyball moments, and exceptional music that combine to create a grand anime masterpiece, which many agree to put at the top of the best sports anime out there.
Despite what others may think of sports anime, this unique genre will only continue to grow in both its fanbase and as an anime niche in itself. If a few sports anime can make it among the best of all time, then there is no doubt the genre has potential and much room for growth. In essence, it only takes one good sports anime, like the ones listed above, to convince the skeptics that sports anime simply offer a new and quirky experience through a brilliant mix of suspenseful sports and intense drama.