As a casual watcher of sports in real life, I’ve always tip-toed around the idea of getting into sports anime. I’ve never been the biggest fan of playing sports, but I have enjoyed it in a more relaxed, recreational setting.
And so, after years of dabbling in sports manga, I decided to dip my toes into the world of sports anime, and surprise, I was hooked instantly! My biggest tip if you want to get started? Go with a show about a sport you already love or want to learn more about.
Here are just a few to help you get started.
The Prince of Tennis
In the long-running series The Prince of Tennis, the focus is on teen tennis genius Ryoma Echizen, who comes back to Japan after winning a major championship in America. Ryoma attends the Seigaku High School, famous for its tennis club. However, his talented skills on the court frequently get him into trouble with bullies. On the flip side, he soon joins the team and enters national tournaments.
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I’m not the biggest sports fan, but one of my favorite games to watch and play is tennis. This series holds a bit of nostalgia since I started watching it when I initially got into anime. This show helped me gain a greater appreciation for the sport. It’s easy to follow, breaks down tennis terminology in a way that is simple to digest, and has overall solid pacing.
This show chronicles Ryoma’s growth as an athlete and person as we get to see him play, train and win games throughout his time at Seigaku. He has great tenacity and strength, and watching him and the team overcome each match keeps me coming back for more!
Watch The Prince of Tennis on Funimation!
Yuri!!! on ICE
Just in time for the Winter Olympics, Yuri!!! on ICE chronicles the journey of figure skater Yuri Katsuki, who is defeated in the Figure Skating Grand Prix finals. As a result, he returns to his hometown, torn between whether he should quit or keep on skating.
His life changes when world-champion skater Victor Nikiforov shows up to help train him for the inevitable follow-up competition.
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This anime is truly a delight! I love the art of figure skating, which is what initially drew me to the show. What stands out most for me is how beautiful and striking the animation is. From the smooth skate sequences to more technical competition points, I can genuinely see how hard the team worked to bring this show to life.
I think viewers can relate to Yuri trying to overcome his fears of failing and working hard to get back on his feet. On top of everything, this show has one of the best OSTs I’ve listened to for any sports anime, and the discography gets the viewer excited to watch each episode. If you’re looking for a sports anime with heart, this is the show to watch!
Watch Yuri!!! on ICE on Funimation!
2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team
If volleyball is more your style, another anime you should check out is 2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team. In this show, the talented Kimichika Haijima moves back home from Tokyo, reuniting with his childhood friend, Yuni Kuroba.
Hajima notices Yuni’s skills on the court and creates a new club at Monshiro Middle. But after the team falls apart, they have a second chance to recover as students at Seiin High School. Will the team beat the odds or lose?
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Like the other anime mentioned on this list, I love how 2.43 focuses on the elements of the sport and the narrative of personal growth. Even though this series is shorter, it still gives each team member a chance to shine and for viewers to connect with their individual stories.
Yuni struggles with performance anxiety on the court; Haijima is so focused on winning that it ends up causing a disconnect with others; and the team grapples with their shortcomings. I love how this anime breaks down the technicality of the sport, the fast-paced game scenes and, most importantly, the audience can relate to each character’s journey of self-discovery.
Watch 2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team on Funimation!