I'm going to make a quick case for trying out sports anime for those who are not into it! If you have more reasons you think people should try sports anime, leave some comments ;)
What you can find in sports anime (generally):
- Lots of emotional ups & downs SO SO SOOOO EMOTIONAL!
- Team work & individual grwoth
- A clear representation of successes & failures that we all face in real life
- We often want to route for both "good" and "evil" which, again, is more like real life than some other anime genres
- Lots of different kinds of people can enjoy the same sport in a show, giving interesting character variety
- Shonen tropes! This can be good or bad, depending on if you like it or not :P
- LOTS of real life themes appear in sports anime!
- Descriptions of the sports that are ongoing
Let's put it this way, sports anime are often not just about sports.
Oftentimes they are as much about the people playing them and their life stories, with sport being the frame we see it all through, which I think is pretty cool!
Realistic, volleyball, boys: Haikyuu
It's sooooo easy to love the boys of Haikyuu! Seriously. If you like teams & "family" antics, you'll like this. The team develops & grows (as do the enemies) and you just really love it. It's really realistic. The chemistry between characters is so great (as it is in other shows like Diamond no Ace).
It's intense! It's animated well! It's addictive!!!!! It can be a bit melodramatic, but the games are exciting & even the monologues work well because of this. :D
A realistic, ~romantic~ sports anime: Chihayafuru
'What's fun about competitive karuta? That’s something you can’t know until you've tried it, and you still won’t understand after you play. I've been playing for 45 years and I still don’t understand. I've never been able to figure it out. That’s why I keep playing.'
This is a different kind of "sport" than you might be expecting. The game Karuta is a card game based on 1000 year old poems. Yep. It's a weird world, but there is a competitive aspect to Karuta, and that's what Chihayafuru brings you to! Believe it or not, but once you get past episode 2-3, you'll want to marathon the rest of it!!!
The show has an incredibly likable cast, a very catchy atmosphere and a surprisingly intense sport make this one of the most fun anime out there! There is a long-running plot of three separated friends trying to reconnect....will they do it? :P
Baseball blues: Cross Game
This anime tells the story about a baseball team, and because I haven't watched it myself, I'm gonna share a friend of mine's description of why this is so awesome. I plan to watch it soon!
"Cross Game is about a high school team's journey to reach the biggest inter-high tournament in Japan, the Koushien. The story seems simple and so does the art, but Cross Game shines everywhere else. A universally likable cast, immaculate pacing and one of the best first episodes I've ever seen, Cross Game's pitch-perfect execution somehow makes a story you've probably seen before seem fresh and new. More of a slice of life than an action show, baseball is the red wire running through the people's lives, acting as the outlet through which our cast deals with their issues, even those of love, loss and life itself."
It comes down to this....
You don’t have to understand anything about the sport at all to enjoy sports anime. You don't have to like sports at all. I know NOTHING about free running or parkour, and I loved Prince of Stride more than I'd like to admit.
Plot presence & character development get you so into the shows that you'll be on the edge of your seat cheering for YOUR team before you even realize it!
Shonen cliches are used really well. Take, for example, the shounen cliche of being powerful and beating up your opponents, or never dying after being bloodily bruised or beaten or being fired up for your nakama. Sports anime generally does incorporate your favourite shounen cliches as well, but because they do it within the confines of a sport and its rules they are much more limited.
Your protagonist often lose in sports anime, too! You can take the parallel of nakama in shonen with teamwork in sports anime! Sports anime is just the more relateable, realistic side of it.
And why does that make sports anime awesome?
Because you can really, really see how it's themes apply to your life!
Look, a lot of people love anime because it's not real life, but really, we all love anime because we connect with it & the things it teaches us. We see mirrors of our real lives and it makes anime more enjoyable.
Sports anime does this, too. There's tons of themes in it that anyone can relate to and apply to their lives, and what could be wrong with that? There are many life lessons that you can relate to! The themes of effort vs talent, hard work and determination are themes that resound with us the most. For who hasn’t worked hard for something at least, in their life before?
Here's a few top favorites of people on the net. Let me know your favorite sports anime below and I'll add them, too!
- Slam Dunk (Basketball)
- Eyeshield 21 (American Football)
- Yowamushi Pedal (Cycling)
- Kuroko no Basket (Basketball)
- Ace of Diamond (Baseball)
- Haikyuu! (Volleyball)
- Prince of Stride (Parkour)