Highlights from best sports anime

Looking for some good sports anime to watch? Well, I’ve got something for you. The sports genre is one of the most popular anime genres and over the years many great sports anime have been created that are among the best.

Honestly, I am not a very big fan of sports animes but once in a while when I see a good anime, I don’t pass it up. And I’ve watched every sports anime that got a good response from the audiences.

In this post, I’ll be sharing with you a list of 15 Greatest Sports Animes of All-time and also 5 honorary mentions that deserve to be featured on this list. You’ll find most of these sports anime on Netflix and other major online streaming platforms.

1. Ahiru no Sora | あひるの空

  • Logline: Ahiru no Sora is determined to bring back the basketball spirit his new team has lost long ago.                   
  • Year: 2020
  • Sports: Basketball
  • Studio: Diomedéa
Ahiru no Sora

After watching Slam Dunk (discussed in honorary sections) I sat to explore more basketball anime and stumbled upon Ahiru no Sora. If you want an action-focused sports anime, stop reading this and move ahead on the list. But if you are looking for a rich storyline nurtured with emotions and character development, Ahiru no Sora is the perfect binge for you.

Summary

Sora Kurumatani lacks the underlying resource to exceed his career as a basketball player- a tall height. He grew up aspiring to be a great basketball player like his mother. But fate hasn’t been very kind to him. 

Despite all odds, he didn’t stop practicing and gets admitted into a high school, hoping to get into the school basketball team. However, Sora realizes that the team members are just immatures who don’t have any spirit for the game. 

2. Yuri!!! on Ice | ユーリ!!! on ICE

  • Logline: The story of Yuuri Katsuki, Japan’s most promising figure skater.
  • Year: 2016
  • Sport: Figure Skating
  • Studios: MAPPA
Yuri on Ice

It is an anime that not only present the sport beautifully but also focuses on the player. It highlights all the emotions and struggles a person has to go through to be good at the sport they love. All in all, it is a perfect sports anime in my opinion and a must-watch for everyone.

Summary

Yuuri Katsuki was one of Japan’s best Figure skaters but after his crushing defeat in the Grand Prix, he lost hope and quit. But when his idol and five-time world champion Victor offers to train him, Yuuri decides to give his career one last shot.

3. Kuroko no Basket | 黒子のバスケ

  • Logline: Seirin High School’s basketball team aims to become the best High school team in Japan but the challenge is tough.
  • Year: 2012
  • Sport: Basketball
  • Studios: Production I.G
Kuroko no Basket

If you watch basketball frequently or play yourself, then you might find the games in this anime too flashy and unreal. But this is anime, so things are supposed to be over the top to make it interesting and I assure you this sports anime is really entertaining to watch. Plus it has 3 seasons so there a lot of content to consume.

Summary

Taiga Kagami is a talented basketball player returning from US. Tetsuya Kuroko is a mysterious guy who used to be a part of the best ‘Junior High School Basketball team in Japan’. Both join the Seirin High School Basketball team and aims to become the best High school team in Japan but the challenge is tough.

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4. Inazuma Eleven | イナズマイレブン

  • Logline: The captain of a school soccer club is determined to find a great team and save the club.
  • Year: 2008
  • Sport: Football
  • Studios: OLM
Inazuma Eleven

I was just a kid when this anime aired and I used to run back from school to watch it. Just for the sentimental value, I watched it again and it was simply amazing. The anime is fun, full of emotions, and some moments will make you jump on your seat.

Summary

Raimon Middle School’s soccer club is on the verge of disbandment. Mamoru Endou, the captain of the team is determined to save the club, and to do that he’s looking for good players. Will he be able to save the ailing club and create a team that can compete with the best in Japan?

5. Haikyuu!! |ハイキュー!!

  • Logline: A short-height middle schooler gets inspired by a volleyball championship he sees on TV and joins the school’s volleyball club. 
  • Year: 2012
  • Sports: Volleyball
  • Studio: Production I G
Haikyuu

How often do you get inspired by looking at someone on a screen and actually get your a** up to work for it? Me? Never! But our MC Shouyou Hinata is not just one of us. Don’t put your hard work of searching for the best sports anime to waste by reaching this page and still ignoring this gem.  

Summary 

Shouyou Hinata lacks a basic asset to play volleyball- a tall height. After getting inspired by a volleyball ace named “Little Giant” Hinata sets to play volleyball and revive his school’s volleyball club. However, this doesn’t turn out well and his team is smashed to defeat in not time by Tobio Kageyama and his team.

Hinata vows to surpass Kageyama’s skills. Little did he had any idea about the unpredictable future where both will have to leave the rivalry aside and team up for a common goal. 

6. Initial D |  é ­æ–‡å­—〈イニシャル〉D

  • Logline: Takumi has been driving on Mount Akina road since childhood and has become a pro. So when a racing crew arrives there, they want to race with Takumi.
  • Year: 1998
  • Sport: Racing
  • Studios: Gallop, Studio Comet
Initial D

If you like car racing and you haven’t watched Initial D then just drop this post and watch this masterpiece. With solid four seasons under its belt, Initial D is not only a great sports anime but considered a classic among anime watchers. 

Summary

Takumi Fujiwara driving a car since he was a little child on Mount Akina road. His father owns a tofu shop and Takumi delivers it. For him driving is a boring chore. One day while driving the same road he passes a sports car that was racing. Surprised by Takumi’s talent, now everyone wants to race him.

7. Ashita no Joe | あしたのジョー

  • Logline: Journey of Joe Yabuki from being a troubled man to a disciplined boxer.          
  • Year: 1968
  • Sports: Boxing
  • Studio: Toei Animation
Ashita no Joe

How can we compile a list of sports anime and not talk about this iconic work from anime history? Oldish but goldish, Ashita joe is boxing manga adapted into anime. The OG creators Ikki Kajiwaraand and Tetsuya Chiba portray the hardships of life and try to unfold its true meaning of life with boxing as a metaphor. 

Summary

The story centers on a spoiled brat-Joe Yabuki. Joe is an arrogant young boy who thinks every problem in life can be tackled with violence and revolt. Upon getting into a fight with a local gang, he is rescued by boxing coach Danpei Tange. 

Danpei saw Joe’s potential in the art of self-defense and boxing and offers him training. Arrogant Joe turns down the offer but soon agrees to live with him and learn boxing. What follows next is Joe’s hardcore journey of becoming a professional boxer.

8. Diamond no Ace| ダイヤのAエース

  • Logline: Eijun Sawamura is an excellent baseball pitcher who aspires to be the ace of his team.   
  • Year: 2013
  • Sports: Baseball
  • Studio: Madhouse Production
Diamond no Ace

My first few watches to the sports anime genres include Diamond no Ace. Straight up it’s a masterpiece. Every time the legends of anime history are recalled, Diamond no Ace shall find its place in the list. I am a soccer guy but after watching DNA it took me some time to get over baseball. 

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Summary

Eijun Sawamura has a weird pitch-up action that leaves opponent players in surprise. He aspires to win the national tournament someday. Things start to escalate in his life when his potential is recognized by a scout from a prestigious high school. Eijun happily accepts the invitation to play for the school. His outlook for baseball and his career as a player changes when he finds himself in the middle of skilled players. 

9. SK∞ | SK∞ エスケーエイト

  • Logline: A story of two guys who love skateboarding and participate in dangerous underground battles.
  • Year: 2021
  • Sport: Skateboarding
  • Studios: Bones
SK∞ SK∞

This is a fresh anime aired in 2021 and in a short time, it has garnered a massive fan following among sports anime lovers. The show revolves around skateboarding, thus the thrill and urban culture is highlighted beautifully and is also quite funny.

Summary

Reki Kyan is a high school student who likes skateboarding and ofter enters illegal underground competitions. But on one such occasion, he meets an accident, his skateboard gets destroyed and his arm broken. 

He meets Langa, a transfer student who has no experience of skateboarding but he has a trump card. Together Reki and Langa enter the illegal competition and the adventure begins.

10. Hajime no Ippo | はじめの一歩

  • Logline: Takamura shows up as a messiah in Ippo’s life to get him out of misery.
  • Year: 2012
  • Sports: Boxing
  • Studio: Production I G
Hajime no Ippo

Have you ever got into any show where after every episode you feel too excited and start jumping around? No? Either you haven’t watched a boxing anime like Hajime no Ippo or you are just a beginner in watching anime. Hajime no Ippo is a show for those who like a deep story saturated with convincing character backstories and jabs of hilarious comedy. 

Summary

Makunouchi Ippo has been bullied all his life. He is shy and doesn’t have any friends. Living through hardships he helps his mother in their family business. One day when being tortured by a high school bully Takamura shows up to rescue him.

Impressed by Takamura Ippo decides to follow his footsteps and train under him to become a boxer. Turns out training isn’t just about getting a strong body but understanding life’s direction and purpose. 

11. Hinomaruzumou | 火ノ丸相撲

  • Logline: Can his dwarf physique stop Hinomaruzumou from being a pro sumo wrestler.
  • Year: 2012
  • Sports: Sumo Wrestling
  • Studio: Production I G
Hinomaruzumou

Hinomaruzumou ticks nearly all boxes to be called a perfect anime to watch. Unpredictability, thoughtful storyline, and an astonishing depiction. I think are the three mantras of making a perfect anime and Hinomaruzumou that lives up to all three expectations. We have discussed nearly every popular sport from basketball, baseball to volleyball. Now let us get the sports game-high and jump into “Sumo ring”

Summary

Hinomaru Ushio’s appearance doesn’t qualify him for being called a sumo wrestler. However, in professional sumo wrestling, weight is and size is not criteria. He may look small but he dreams of becoming the best Sumo wrestler in history. 

12. Yowamushi Pedal | 弱虫ペダル

  • Logline: Sakamichi Onoda’s desire to make friends ends at school’s bicycle racing club.      
  • Year: 2014
  • Sport: Cycle Racing
  • Studio: TMS Entertainment
Yowamushi Pedal

Of all anime genres, I find the Japanese sports anime genre to be the most realistic and relatable. Yowamushi pedal is another relatable sports anime that goes into narrating an account of a young fellow who gets over the metaphorical wall and with continuous determination.

Summary

Like every other otaku, Sakamichi Onoda is a loner who has just entered high school. It is hard for him to find people of similar interests. His hopes to make new friends with the school’s otaku club are shattered upon learning about the disbanded of the club due to lack of interest among the members. 

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Onoda has been riding round trips in his “mommy bicycle” since he was a kid. Onoda’s classmate Naruko sees him cycling through a steep hill and mocks him for a race. Naruko, a serious cyclist is surprised to see Onoda’s cycling skill and invites him to join the school’s bicycle racing club. Which leads to the way for Onoda’s journey in the world of bicycle racing. 

13. Free!

  • Logline: Iwatobi High School Swim teams aim to be the best swimming team among all schools.
  • Year: 2013
  • Sport: Swimming
  • Studios: Kyoto Animation, Animation Do
Free

This anime has the power to grab all your attention and make you immerse in its world. The story is simple but keeps you guessing about what’s coming next. With a little bit of fanservice and cliche scene, it is a worthy sports anime to watch.

Summary

Haruka Nanase along with his 3 friends used to be the best at swimming in elementary school. As they grow old, Haruka and 2 of his childhood friends join Iwatobi High School, while the fourth friend, Rin Matsuoka joins a different high school and wants to defeat Haruka to prove his swimming talent. Both enter the inter-school swimming competition to settle this rivalry for good.

14. Hoshiai no Sora | 星合の空

  • Logline: Boys Soft Tennis club is on the verge of disbandment but a transfer student brings new hope.
  • Year: 2019
  • Sport: Soft Tennis
  • Studios: 8bit
Hoshiai no Sora

The plot of a transfer student joining a failing sports club and making it successful has been used by many sports animes. Even though this anime also follows the same plot but the way it uses sport to develop its characters and their interaction are the reasons that make this drama worth watching.

Summary

Due to poor skills and performance, the boys soft tennis club is on the verge of disbandment. On top of that, there is no enthusiasm in the club members. But when a transfer student named Katsuragi Maki joins the club, the club starts winning matches and other members also becomes active.

15. Air Gear | エア・ギア

  • Logline: Five orphans form a gang to rule over the competitive street sports of Air Treks.          
  • Year: 2002
  • Sports: Skates
  • Studio: Toei Animation
air gear

Skateboard and rollerskates are cool. What’s much more cooler is a motorized rollerskate called the Air Gear. I know how anime fam gets crossed here. Either you love the idea or discard it as trash. If a show has an “x” factor attached to it I don’t refrain from giving it some extra points even if it sucks at the storyline. 

Summary

Air Treks, a motorized replacement to rollerskates have taken the youths by a storm. Young lads have started to form cartels who compete in Air Treak battles among themselves. 

Itsuki Minami is one such middle school kid who is infamous for street fights and notorious deeds. he lives with his four stepsisters who are a part of an AT group called the “Sleeping Forest”. When Itsuki finds a pair of Air treks in his home his life swirls around and soon he finds himself chasing heights he never imagined of.

HONORARY MENTIONS:

16. Slam Dunk | スラムダンク

  • Logline: Hanamichi Sakuragi is determined to learn how to play basketball to get closer to the girl he has a crush on.
  • Year: 1993
  • Sport: Basketball
  • Studios: Toei Animation
Slam Dunk

17. Chihayafuru | ちはやふる

  • Logline: Chihaya Ayase is obsessed with Karuta ( a card game) and wants to create and team and win the national championship.
  • Year: 2011
  • Sport: Card Game
  • Studios: Madhouse
Chihayafuru

18. Baby Steps | ベイビーステップ

  • Logline: Worried about his health Eiichirou Maruo joins a tennis club as a way to exercise.
  • Year: 2014
  • Sport: Tennis
  • Studios: Studio Pierrot
baby steps

19. Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru| 風が強く吹いている

  • Logline: A story of guys dreaming to participate in the prestigious running competition in Japan.
  • Year: 2018
  • Sport: Running
  • Studios: Production I.G
Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru

20. Megalo Box | メガロボクス

  • Logline: Megalo Box is an illegal boxing competition where the fighter utilizes mechanical limbs
  • Year: 2018
  • Sport: Boxing
  • Studios: TMS Entertainment
Megalo