In another post of mine, I shared with you “15 Anime You Need to Watch Before You Can Call Yourself a Sports Anime Fan” listing 15 of the most influential sports anime, in my opinion. Today’s post features 15 of my recommended sports anime that are often overshadowed by my previous 15 list.
Arria’s Recommended 15 Often Overlooked Sports Anime
(arranged in alphabetical order)
1. Akagi (アカギ)
Even after watching this mahjong anime, I still have no idea how to play the game. Nevertheless, my lack of mahjong knowledge didn’t hinder my viewing experience. This is such a well-made psychological series, in my opinion. I love how it makes me think and guess what’s going to happen next. If this is a book, it’ll definitely be a page-turner. It is dark, crass, and violent yet utterly absorbing. It’s about gambling, threats, violence, and the yakuza. I don’t recommend this to people who aren’t mature enough, that’s for sure. The art style is not the most appealing, but it fits the foreboding atmosphere of the series. Based on the manga Akagi: Yami ni Oritatta Tensai (アカギ 〜闇に降り立った天才〜 / Akagi: The Genius Who Descended into Darkness) by Fukumoto Nobuyuki (福本伸行).
2. Area no Kishi (エリアの騎士 / The Knight in the Area)
I’m still disappointed that there are still no plans to make a second season for this anime since the first one aired in 2012. The premise is like the sports version of Angel Heart where a heart transplant causes the recipient to gain the memories and even the skills of the donor. It’s a very interesting series with exciting soccer matches and, ahem, ecchi fan service scattered here and there. The anime definitely left me wanting for more. Fortunately the manga is still ongoing. But I still want a second season!!! 😦 Based on the manga written by Hiroaki Igano (伊賀大晃) and illustrated by Tsukiyama Kaya (月山可也).
3. Bamboo Blade (バンブーブレード)
Although I enjoyed this anime, it doesn’t rank high on my personal sports anime list. It’s so-so, I guess. But I feel the girl power—Wohoo!—which is cool. Unlike most sports anime that I watch, it didn’t really make me interested in the sports it’s about, in this case kendo. It’s worth watching if you want something to pass the time, but it can be quite forgettable. Based on the manga written by Totsuka Masahiro (土塚理弘) and illustrated by Igarashi Aguri (五十嵐あぐり).
4. Chihayafuru (ちはやふる)
This series was quite a surprise for me. I had no idea what in the world karuta was before watching it. It sounded like a boring game, but the series’ execution made it super interesting. The art style is beautiful and the characters are likeable. It can also be quite romantic (ehehehe~) and it made me cry which is quite an accomplishment. The atmosphere is more shoujo/josei compared to most sports series that have strong shounen/seinen feel. Definitely worth watching! Based on the manga by Suetsugu Yuki (末次由紀).
5. Dear Boys (ディア・ボーイズ)
It doesn’t reach the level of Slam Dunk or even Kuroko no Basuke, but this basketball anime is worth watching. I remember fangirling and crushing on the boys. Ehehehe~ I also feel the girl power, despite this anime being about “Dear Boys”. The matches are exciting and the characters themselves are fascinating. It’s more serious and dramatic than Slam Dunk and less outrageous than Kuroko no Basuke. It holds its own, so it’s worth a watch. Based on the manga by Yagami Hiroki (八神 ひろき).
6. Ganba! Fly High (ガンバ! Fly High)
This series is quite old. You may be turned off by its old animation style, but I think that its worth watching. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments that I still chuckle whenever I remember them. It’s not the best sports anime, but it’s guaranteed to entertain especially if you’re interested in competitive gymnastics. Based on the manga written by Morisue Shinji (森末慎二) and illustrated by Kikuta Hiroyuki (菊田洋之).
7. Giant Killing (ジャイアントキリング)
I enjoyed this anime while it lasted, but it’s not wow-inducing, if you know what I mean. It’s interesting and entertaining, but it didn’t really satisfy me. I was expecting something that didn’t come. It was disappointingly lukewarm all throughout. Perhaps it’s because I watched more amazing sports anime than this, but I still wanted something more from this series. Still a good anime, though. Based on the manga written by Tsunamoto Masaya (綱本将也) and illustrated by Tsujitomo (ツジトモ).
8. Ginban Kaleidoscope (銀盤カレイドスコープ)
A skating anime that managed to make me laugh like a lunatic and cry like a baby (not at the same time, mind you). You don’t see a lot of ice skating anime, you know, at least I don’t. This anime is super funny, ridiculous, yet romantic and tragic at the same time. If you’re a hardcore shounen/seinen sports anime fan, this shoujo sports series might not appeal to you, but it’s still a good idea to keep it in mind. What do you know? You might end up enjoying it. Just saying. Based on the light novel series written by Kaibara Rei (海原 零) and illustrated by Suzuhira Hiro (鈴平ひろ).
9. Initial D (頭文字D)
Oh my gosh. This is one of my super-duperest favourite sports anime ever! It’s so awesome and so exciting! It’s a series about illegal street racing on mountain passes in Japan. It just ended last year, but let me tell you that I’ve been a fan of this series for a decade now. Based on the manga by Shigeno Shūichi (しげの 秀一).
Recommended Post: The Legend of INITIAL D Ends But My Decade-Long Fandom Remains
10. Kaiji (カイジ)
Another gambling anime which is not surprising given that it’s created by the same mangaka as Akagi. I personally like Akagi better but Kaiji is still good. If you’re interested in watching these gambling anime, I recommend watching Akagi first because it’s better in putting you into the mood. Experience the most intense first. Based on the manga Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji (賭博黙示録カイジ / Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji) by Fukumoto Nobuyuki (福本伸行).
11. Kaleido Star (カレイドスター)
I remember watching this in high school. It’s like an anime version of Cirque du Soleil. Like Ginban Kaleidoscope, it’s also a romantic shoujo which may not appeal to hardcore shounen sports anime fans. It’s a cute series, but there are also serious moments. I think that this is a more entertaining anime to watch than Ganba! Fly High if you’re interested in gymnastics. However, it’s not as realistic because it introduces a magical element. You’ll know what I mean if you watch it.
12. One Outs (ワンナウツ)
This anime is very similar to Akagi when it comes to their dark, violent, and psychological atmosphere. Both of them heavily portray the world of gambling. Like Akagi, I don’t recommend this to viewers who aren’t mature enough. The protagonist in One Outs is like the devil incarnate in terms of appearance and personality, although I do find him oddly attractive. It’s distinctly different to the more mainstream baseball anime like Daiya no A and Major. If you want something more adult than most mainstream sports anime, I highly recommend this series. I do admit that it’s an acquired taste, though. Based on the manga by Kaitani Shinobu (甲斐谷忍).
13. Ookiku Furikabutte (おおきく振りかぶって / Big Windup!)
This is one of the sports anime that I like re-watching again and again. It’s an adorable series that has a lot of exciting possibilities for fujoshi. Oh my. My fujoshi sensibilities are stirring. But putting my shounen-ai interest aside, Ookiku Furikabutte is a great baseball anime that is unfortunately often overshadowed by more popular series like Daiya no A and Major. Perhaps it’s because the characters are more boyish and don’t have the gorgeous characteristics of bishies we fangirls so love. I’m still hoping that the rest of the manga will be adapted into anime. Oh please! Based on the manga by Higuchi Asa (ひぐち アサ).
14. Over Drive (オーバードライヴ)
An interesting anime about bicycle racing. It introduced me to Tour de France and similar international bicycle races. I think it’s more realistic in its portrayal of this sport than Yowamushi Pedal, but I personally like YowaPeda more. I watched this as a teen and I remember enjoying it so much that I marathoned it in one night. It’s just 26 episodes, so it’s not that big of a time investment. Try it. Based on the manga by Yasuda Tsuyoshi (安田 剛士).
15. Saki (咲-Saki-)
This is like the kid version of Akagi and Kaiji. It does have serious and even dark moments, but certainly doesn’t reach the intensity of Akagi nor Kaiji. Also if you’re into yuri, Saki may appeal to you. It’s interesting that a mahjong series would have such a kawaii-moe-chibi art style as this. I personally am not too fond of it, but it’s still entertaining. Based on the manga by Kobayashi Ritz (小林立).
Which of these anime have you watched? Which of these are you planning to watch? Do you agree with this list?
I’m aware that there are more overlooked sports series than included in this list. These 15 are series that I personally finished watching and doesn’t include those that I’m not done watching yet, such as Moshidora and Hikaru no Go. More sports anime list is coming up soon.
That’s all for today, folks! Thanks for reading. Have a great day. Keep on watching sports anime. Cheers!
Akagi Anime at NTV (Japanese)
Area no Kishi Anime at TV Asahi (Japanese)
Bamboo Blade Official Anime Website (Japanese)
Chihayafuru Anime at NTV (Japanese)
Giant Killing Anime at NHK (Japanese)
Ginban Kaleidoscope Anime at TV Tokyo (Japanese)
Kaiji Anime at NTV (Japanese)
One Outs Anime at NTV (Japanese)
Ookiku Furikabutte Official Website (Japanese)
Over Drive Anime at TV Tokyo (Japanese)
Saki Official Anime Website (Japanese)
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