l love sports anime! Series in this genre are some of the most inspiring. What I love the most in watching sports anime is the constant emphasis on how hard work is the sure-fire way to get you the results that you want. Of course, talent will get you there faster but hard work alone will force you to obtain the skills you need to reach your goals. I love that. How inspiring. Below is a list of sports anime that I compiled featuring 15 of the most influential sports series of all-time.
15 Anime You Need to Watch Before You Can Call Yourself a Sports Anime Fan
(arranged in alphabetical order)
1. Ashita no Joe (あしたのジョー)
I wasn’t even born yet when this series ran, but as a sports anime fan, you should know or even at least heard of Ashita no Joe. I remember watching some snippets of the films when I was a kid, but I’ve never really watched the entire series. I can’t really comment much about this, but its influence spreads wide to some of my favourite series such as Hajime no Ippo, another boxing series, and Bakuman, one of my most favourite series ever. Based on the manga series written by Kajiwara Ikki (梶原 一騎) and illustrated by Chiba Tetsuya (千葉 徹彌).
2. Baby Steps (ベイビーステップ)
This is relatively new compared to the other series in this list, but I think that Baby Steps is special and different in its own way. The main protagonist isn’t a genius. What I like about this series is its emphasis on hard work rather than natural-born talent. I also like how it demonstrates that it’s never too late for you to chase after your dreams. Based on the manga series by Katsuki Hikaru (勝木 光).
3. Captain Tsubasa (キャプテン翼)
Like Ashita no Joe, I wasn’t born yet when the original Captain Tsubasa ran. However, given that it’s one of the most influential sports series in the industry, there were a lot of anime reruns while I was growing up. I don’t really remember much about this series, but I can’t deny the influence it has over the sports anime that I currently love. Based on the manga series by Takahashi Yōichi (高橋 陽一).
4. Daiya no Ace (ダイヤのA / Ace of Diamond)
It’s currently one of the hottest sports series. It’s not my favourite baseball anime—that honour belongs to Major—but I’ll readily admit that I’m a fangirl of Daiya no Ace. Miyuki’s mine!!! He’s so hot! What’s more, a lot of my favourite seiyuu are here. Based on the manga series by Terajima Yūji (寺嶋 裕二).
5. Eyeshield 21 (アイシールド21)
Yahahaha!!! I remember watching this in my early teens. Loved it!!! Looking back now, there are so many outrageous scenes in this series that would make me roll my eyes if I watched it as an adult. I’m so glad I watched this as a teenager when I wasn’t as critical as I am now. Eyeshield 21 will always have a special place in my heart. Based on the manga series written by Inagaki Riichirō (稲垣 理一郎) and illustrated by Murata Yūsuke (村田 雄介).
Yummy! Most of you already know that I love ogling delicious bishies, so even if Free! wasn’t a swimming anime, I still would have watched this. Delicioso~ Thankfully, this anime isn’t all about perfect six-pack abs. It actually has an engaging story and characters you can sympathize with. Perfecto~ Based on the light novel written by Ōji Kōji (おおじ こうじ).
7. Haikyuu!! (ハイキュー!!)
One of my current faves!!! I freaking love this volleyball series! Oh my gosh. I can’t get enough of Haikyuu!! It’s hilarious and awesome and amazing and funny and incredible and and and and—it’s so GREAT!!! Definitely a must watch! Based on the manga series by Furudate Haruichi (古舘 春一).
8. Hajime no Ippo (はじめの一歩)
As a Filipino, I can’t help but become interested in a boxing anime such as this. It’s one of my all-time favourite sports series. I love the manga. It’s very impressive; still going strong with over 1000 chapters! I also love the first anime adaptation with its gritty animation. As for the later anime adaptations, not so much. I’m kinda dismayed by their overly smooth and bright animations. Still a great series, though. Based on the manga series by Morikawa George (森川 ジョージ).
9. Hungry Heart: Wild Striker (ハングリーハート WILD STRIKER)
I can’t be 100% sure, but I think I watched this in English dub. Very rare for someone like me. I don’t really remember much about this series because I watched it when I was a kid. But even up to now, I still come across a lot of fellow sports anime fans who cite Hungry Heart: Wild Striker as their favourite sports anime. It also doesn’t hurt that it was created by the same legendary mangaka of Captain Tsubasa. Based on the manga series by Takahashi Yōichi (高橋 陽一).
10. Kuroko no Basuke (黒子のバスケ / Kuroko’s Basketball)
It doesn’t reach the level of Slam Dunk, in my opinion, but no one can deny the ginormous buzz this latest basketball series generated while it ran. I personally enjoyed it with all those delish bishies—Akashi’s mine!!! Based on the manga series by Fujimaki Tadatoshi (藤巻 忠俊).
11. Major (メジャー)
One word: EPIC!!! Holy freaking shoot, this series is EPIIIIIIIC!!! This is probably my #1 favourite sports anime of all-time. Not a lot of sports anime series show the journey of the main protagonist as detailed as in Major, where we see a child develop into a veteran athlete. Definitely a must-watch! Based on the manga series by Mitsuda Takuya (満田拓也).
12. Prince of Tennis (テニスの王子様 / Tenisu no Oujisama)
I have so many good memories watching this series. I remember fangirling over each guy—I freaking love Tezuka and Atobe! But I also like how the main protagonist isn’t really hot in the gorgeous and mature way. Echizen is child-like but boy, he’s awesome. I like that he’s conceited and a genius. Looking back now, I don’t think that I’ll enjoy it as much now if I watch it again, but it never fails to make me nostalgic. Based on the manga series by Konomi Takeshi (許斐剛).
13. Slam Dunk (スラムダンク)
Who hasn’t heard of Slam Dunk? You can’t call yourself a full-fledged sports anime fan if you haven’t watched this series. It’s definitely a classic that has major staying power. I kinda want a reboot anime for this. Crossing my fingers. Based on the manga series by Inoue Takehiko (井上雄彦).
14. Touch (タッチ)
Same as Ashita no Joe, I wasn’t born yet when this series ran. I haven’t watched the entire series, but I saw snippets of the TV anime series and the films. I like watching Japanese variety shows, and I can tell you that this anime series is one of the most-alluded series in TV shows. Based on the manga series by Adachi Mitsuru (あだち 充).
15. Yowamushi Pedal (弱虫ペダル)
A surprise favourite. I didn’t really expect to like this series. The art style didn’t look too appealing to me at the beginning, but I found myself absorbed by its story, its outrageous characters, and of course its even more outrageous biking techniques. It’s this series’ fault that I woke up early everyday during the summer to watch Tour de France. I’ve never done that before. It even made me consider buying myself a road racer, but I made do with my dad’s old mountain bike. Based on the manga series by Watanabe Wataru (渡辺 航).
And that’s it for today’s most influential sports anime list. Do you like watching sports anime? If so, what’s your favourite? And do you agree with the titles included in this list?
That’s all for today, folks. Have a great day. Cheers!
Baby Steps Anime Website on NHK (Japanese)
Captain Tsubasa Anime Website on TV Tokyo (Japanese)
Chiba Tetsuya Official Website – Ashita no Joe Mangaka (Japanese)
Daiya no Ace Official Anime Website (Japanese)
Eyeshield 21 Anime on TV Tokyo (Japanese)
Free! Anime Website (Japanese)
Haikyuu!! Anime Website (Japanese)
Hajime no Ippo Anime at NTV (Japanese)
Kuroko no Basuke Anime Website (Japanese)
Major Anime at NHK (Japanese)
Prince of Tennis at TV Tokyo (Japanese)
Slam Dunk Scholarship by Shueisha (Japanese)
Yowamushi Pedal Anime (Japanese)
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