Written by Shiggins
The summer of 2018 is here, and so I decided to celebrate the fact I can't enjoy the cold rain on my boiling face by writing a Top 10 all about the various sports that anime has written about over the years. From the realistic to the ridiculous, anime has done it all. Sadly, card games don't count as sports but you might get a few surprises on this list, so read, comment, like, subscribe, and other things that make you hopefully like me! All the anime on this list are focused heavily on the sports themselves, so sadly Hunter x Hunter's amazing dodgeball battle is not here.
Wait, this is a sports anime?! Hang on, let me check that.
Well, Google says it is. Let me check again.
*Uses Bing, and then goes to Ask Jeeves*
Yep. Beyblade is considered a sports anime, and is therefore eligible for this list. And since I grew up with the series and I am completely full of nostalgic bias, I have to place it here. No higher than 10th though, since I've probably annoyed a lot of you already by placing Beyblade here.
I should point out that I grew up with the original anime incarnation, badly dubbed and poorly animated at times, but I think any adaptation will give you what you're looking for. A bunch of young teens promoting toys to battle your friends, but instead of Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh cards, this one promotes spinning tops. And you know what? It's ridiculous, childish and yet fun! Screw fidget spinners! This is what really deserves to be spun around by kids!
9. Megalo Box
Arguably one of the best anime of 2018 so far, Megalo Box was created to celebrate a certain other anime's 50th anniversary (see Number 4 on this list) and did a damn fine job of doing so. Set in a futuristic society where the poorer folk live far away from the bright lights of the rich, boxers fight to gain money and fame by using metal frames to make their punches hit harder.
The use of metal frames to enhance fighters is, to me at least, a slight step backwards for sports anime, as I personally feel it takes away the energy and determination that other boxing shows tend to lean towards. However, it gives Joe "Junk Dog" a great way to show just how determined he is, by making him the only one to not use them.
The animation is sometimes spectacular, the fights are brutal and bloody, and the setting of a futuristic society surrounded by slums is always a fun idea that many other fictional tales have had fun exploring. It might be the lowest boxing series on this list, but it is still worth a look for any fan of sports looking for something somewhat different.
Some people might think that Keijo is a stupid choice for me to put on this list. Those people are correct. Keijo is a stupid anime with a stupid premise, stupid fanservice and so much more stupid. It is utterly ridiculous in its story and characters, but that's actually why I've placed it here.
Keijo is a fictional sport in which women compete by thrusting their butts or breasts against each other on platforms to knock their opponents off into the water. Nozomi Kaminashi, a typical bright-eyed girl, vows to become rich so she can help her family escape poverty, so she joins a school for Keijo trainees and tries to learn how to push her opponents off those platforms efficiently.
The amount of ridiculousness on display here is almost praiseworthy. If Deadpool appeared in this series, I doubt I'd bat an eye. The image of one girl attacking with her ass, and that somehow turning into an Attack on Titan or Fate reference, is just so bizarre. So unusual. How could I not include it here?! No higher than 8th though, since it's probably just an excuse to have as much fanservice as possible.
7. Speed Racer
Originally airing in the 1960s, Speed Racer is arguably one of the most dated anime of all time. Do you ever see those jokes where the characters speak in rapid sentences then gawk at the camera? This is what they're parodying when they do that. Of course, that's just a testament to how famous Speed Racer is, and a great reminder that this was among the very first anime to be truly successful outside of Japan.
Speed Racer is a very simple series, of course. It follows a boy named Go Mifune, also known as Speed Racer, and the various races he participates in with the support of his family. This includes his younger brother, who is best known for having a chimpanzee companion. And yes, this is the series that the Wachowski sisters (who were brothers at this time) thought would make a great epic live-action film in 2008.
Corny and ridiculous, but one can't ignore how far it brought anime at the height of its popularity. Everything about the series is dated, but I placed it here out of nothing but pure respect and gratitude. In many ways, you could put this in the same category as Astro Boy.
If you can't handle a bit of male fanservice, then run away now because it doesn't get any sexier than this. Free, which I think is called that because those trunks must be tight as hell and the men want to get released from them, is all about sexy men making me feel insecure by being absolutely gorgeous and wet and did I mention they make me question myself and everything I grew up believing about who I am?
For what it's worth, the story is about a four-man swimming club in Iwami, Tottori. Haruka Nanase, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki and Rin Matsuoka. All four of them have known each other since childhood and have reunited once more to compete competitively, and try to achieve Olympic glory and deal with personal issues.
It's easy to joke that the series is only popular because it has sexy men, but the popularity of Free is a clear sign that there is more to it than nipples. (Oh wait, this anime doesn't have nipples.... That's distracting in a swimming series.) Each character goes through emotional stories that impact the audience, and even the heteros out there should give it a shot. Although be warned... I thought I was hetero before I discovered Free.
5. Kuroko no Basuke
Continuing the motif of muscled men who probably sleep together, we have the multi-coloured team of Kuroko no Basuke, also known as Kuroko's Basketball. There was a time when this series ruled the anime scene, and if it came out today then I think we would see the white and red uniforms almost as much as Attack on Titan's brown jackets.
Tetsuya Kuroko, once known as the hidden member of the "Generation of Miracles" in the amazing basketball team, has recently joined a brand new team and befriended a newcomer called Taiga Kagami, and must now take on his former comrades in thrilling matches while making his new team the best in the business.
Not only does this cast have a diversity of hair colours that would make the paranoid Youtubers think they're under attack, but it has a fun diversity of personalities as well. Kuroko's anti-social tendencies make him an interesting standout from the usual type of sports protagonist, and he surprisingly works well off of other characters despite saying so little. It's a fun adventure, no doubt.
4. Ashita no Joe
Let's keep this one as short as possible, shall we?
The story is about Joe Yabuki, a troubled man who's life goes from crime to boxing as he tries his best to overcome his rival and former cellmate Rikiishi. As time goes on and Joe keeps fighting his way up so he can face Rikiishi as a professional, he starts taking more and more injuries and challenges along the way, with some shocking surprises for both himself and the supporting cast.
The reason I'm keeping this description brief is because you have to watch it for yourself. There is too much to go through for you to be spoiled so easily with this one, and it is a powerful tale that deserves to be experienced. Why is it not higher on this list? Mostly, that's due to age weighing it down. Trust me however, you have to see this for yourself with as little knowledge as possible. Take my word for it and avoid them spoilers!
If I was to ever point to the "definitive sports anime of the modern age", my first choice would probably be Haikyuu. Published by Shonen Jump, Haikyuu has quickly garnered a reputation as one of the best choices to introduce someone to anime, much like Naruto or Death Note. And honestly, if you're being favourably placed alongside those classics, you're clearly doing something right!
Haikyuu tells the story of Shōyō Hinata, a freshman who wants to redeem himself after losing in junior high to the "King of the Court", Tobio Kageyama, by joining the school's volleyball team. Of course, who is also joining? Kageyama! So now Hinata and Kageyama must try to work together, despite their massive personality differences and history, and help bring their fellow teammates to the top!
It might not be the most innovative premise, but Haikyuu has the exact amount of charm and style needed to help it bring itself above the rest of the pack. Hinata is absolutely adorable and has fun banter with the stoic Kageyama, while their teammates have some fun designs and memorable quirks that keep readers coming back for more. Volleyball might not be the most exciting series to base an anime around, but the characters will definitely keep you from being bored.
2. Hajime no Ippo
Some will most likely call me out for this one, but I don't think sports in manga would have ever reached the popularity or heights it has accomplished without this surprisingly long saga that began in 1989, about the story of a shy boy named Ippo Makunouchi who decides to become a professional boxer after being saved by a professional from some bullies picking on him.
Hajime no Ippo turned sports manga on its head, and is still defying audience expectations to this day. The manga has had several adaptations, all of which are worth checking out, but what makes the series truly stand out is the development of each character both in and out of the ring, with Ippo himself managing to stay engaging despite everyone around him.
From his rivalry with fellow boxer Miyata, to his journey to the World Championship, Ippo has been absorbing fans in his series for literally decades, and it's easy to see why. Boxing is a great sport both visually and mentally, so it is no surprise that it appears so much on my Top 10. Add some impressive animation to the mix, and you've got a knockout series.
1. Yuri on Ice
Just because it doesn't have two men/women battling it out in the field doesn't mean it isn't a sport, and figure skating is arguably one of the most difficult to pull off. Get it right however, and you can have one of the best LGBT+ romances of all time. The title is misleading though, because it's technically Yaoi on Ice but whatever.
Yuri on Ice tells the story of Yuuri Katsuki, a former figure skater reevaluating his life choices who comes across legendary professional Viktor Nikiforov and becomes trained by the idol of his dreams to compete once again. Along the way, he sort-of befriends another Yuri from Russia, and comes across a host of colourful characters as he learns about himself and the sport he is participating in.
What makes Yuri on Ice my number one spot is the passion behind it, from the graceful movements of the animation to the determination of the characters, and the clear joy the writers and actors had with the show. A lot of shows refuse to relax or enjoy the sport, instead acting like the situation is life-or-death, but Yuri on Ice has an amazing romantic edge that keeps the tension exactly where it should be without going so ludicrous that the world will literally end if Yuuri doesn't skate properly. And the music... oh, the music is used to perfection here as it fits with each performance and the running theme going on with each show. Yuri on Ice easily makes my number one spot, and the massive boom it experienced upon release tells me that I'm not alone in my thinking.
Any sports anime you love? Any Top 10s you'd like to see? Sound off in the comments below!
|Aoharu x Kikanjuu|
|Girls und Panzer|
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Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere or go to his tumblr page http://otakugajeel.tumblr.com/