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Top 15 Best Sports Anime; Recommendation List from MAL Staff

The best sports anime are about more than just the sport itself. They're about friendship, struggle, growth, and achieving your dreams. Here are 15 of the best.

by Law_Light
Aug 11, 1:05 AM | 23,025 views

Ookiku Furikabutte: Natsu no Taikai-hen!, Top Sports Anime
Inspirational, engaging, and thrilling enough to keep people on the edge of their seats -- that's the charm of sports. There's no end to people's fascination with athletes and games. Now, add this wonderful form of entertainment to the brilliant visuals of animation and you've got something you won't want to take your eyes off.

Are you hyped up for anything sports related because of the Rio Olympic games? Check out this list of 15 sports anime to help quench that thirst.

Slam Dunk

MAL Rated 8.56, Ranked #80 | Aired Fall 1993 | Produced by TV Asahi and Animax

Slam Dunk characters sitting on bench sports anime
Get to know Sakuragi Hanamichi; that student who holds an all-time record of being turned down by a lot of girls in middle school (50, to be exact). But hey, that is only because of the popular Kaede Rukawa whom everyone is crushing on. In an attempt to beat Rukawa and win his new love's heart, Sakuragi joins the school basketball team.

Slam Dunk is undoubtedly one of the best sports anime of all time. In fact, this anime is so popular that it has increased the popularity of basketball in Japan.

Haikyuu!! Second Season

MAL Rated 8.94, Ranked #12 | Aired Fall 2015 | Produced by TOHO animation

Haikyuu!! Karasuno High Volleyball Team
Karasuno High School takes on the challenge to be Japan’s number one volleyball team. However, there will be many obstacles that will test their skills and friendship. Will they be able to break through the tall walls in front of them?

Haikyuu!! Second Season is a top class sports anime. Witnessing the dizzying skills and moves of each character will inspire you to try your hand at volleyball too!

Hajime No Ippo

MAL Rated 8.84, Ranked #19 | Aired Fall 2000 | Produced by VAP

Hajime No Ippo! Ippo Makanuchi vs Shimabukuro Iwao
Ippo Makunouchi is a gentle, quiet High School student who is frequently bullied. He wants to become a better person and fight back. However, he's never been good at fighting -- that is until a boxer named Takamura Mamoru saves him from bullies and introduces him to the brutal world of boxing. Training to be stronger, Ippo goes through many hardships to reach his goals.

Hajime no Ippo is an amazing anime featuring growth, grit, and spectacular action. It might just knock you down and take your breath away.

Eyeshield 21

MAL Rated 8.08, Ranked #430 | Aired Spring 2005 | Produced by TV Tokyo, et.al.

Eyeshield 21 Sena sprinting
Sena Kobayakawa is not just your ordinary chibi character. Escaping from a group of bullies, his notable running skill catches the attention of the captain of the school’s American Football Club. Sena is finally in his element, and must work with the eccentric, and very sadistic Captain Hiruma, if he wants to make it to the Christmas Bowl.

Eyeshield 21 is filled with comedy, excitement and electric characters. So, be ready to run together with the team on their journey to fame.

Prince of Tennis

MAL Rated 8.05, Ranked #468 | Aired Fall 2001 | Produced by Nihon Ad Systems and Trans Arts

Prince of Tennis! Top Sports Anime, Seigaku Team
Follow Ryouma Ichizen and his aim to surpass his father, a legendary tennis player. Enrolled in Seigaku, he faces a lot of strong opponents and learns a lot of things. Whether he'll finally get out of his father's shadow and become Japan’s best tennis player is something you've just got to see to find out.

Prince of Tennis is one of the best sports anime that kicked off in the 2000s. The series is loaded with some positively out-of-this-world tennis action. You might even be able to apply the techniques to your next tennis match with a friend (but probably not).

One Outs

MAL Rated 8.41, Ranked #152 | Aired Fall 2008 | Produced by VAP and Nippon Television Network Corporation

Out Outs! Sports Anime, Toa Tokuchi
Baseball is a popular sport in Japan, so it's not shocking to see many anime made about it; one of the absolute best is One Outs. In it, we journey with Toa Tokuchi an ace pitcher whose whole world revolves around gambling on his talent with a baseball.

One Outs is simply electric. It combines the psychological elements of anime like Kaiji with amazing sports action that will have you begging for more episodes. Add this anime to your must-watch list and you will not regret it.

Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road

MAL Rated 8.30, Ranked #223 | Aired Fall 2014 | Produced by TOHO animation

Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road Sports Anime, Sakamichi Onoda
Sakamichi Onoda and the gang pick up right in the middle of where season 1 left off. This is a cycling anime that explores motivation, struggle, passion, and heartache. The team struggles as they try to overcome physical, mental and emotional fatigue. Succeeding is an uphill climb, but no one is backing down.

Cross Game

MAL Rated 8.55, Ranked #81 | Aired Spring 2009 | Produced by TV Tokyo and Shogakukan Productions

Cross Game! Sports Anime, Kou Kitamura pitching
Kou Kitamura is a boy who inwardly wants to become the best player in baseball despite showing little interest in it publicly. He is an excellent hitter. On the other hand, his neighbor Aoba Tsukishima is a natural genius at pitching. Kou secretly trains to be like her. However, the biggest question is whether he will have the courage to chase his dreams or not.

Cross Game is a combination of romance, comedy, and drama. It will not only awaken the love of baseball in you, but it will also help you learn to appreciate the small things in life. It's a masterpiece worth seeing.

Initial D: Final Stage

MAL Rated 8.29, Ranked #226 | Aired Spring 2014 | Produced by Avex Entertainment

Initial D Final Stage! driving Anime, Takumi Fujiwara driving looking sad
Initial D Final Stage narrates the story of Takumi Fujiwara and his comrades as they thrive in the world of racing and finally face the most important, and the most difficult race in their life. While Takumi has never lost before, facing an opponent using the same car as his might just change the record.

Initial D Final Stage will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. Each episode is full of thrilling action that won't be able to tear your eyes from.

Ookiku Furikabutte: Natsu no Taikai-hen (Big Windup! 2)

MAL Rated 8.22, Ranked #289 | Aired Spring 2010 | Produced by Aniplex, et.al.

Ookiku Furikabutte: Natsu no Taikai-hen Ren Takaya hugging
Here’s another baseball anime that plays less like a thriller, and more like a drama that will warm your heart. Ookiku Furikabutte: Natsu no Taikai-hen follows the story of Ren Mihashi and his teammates. Together, they aim to compete and win in the finals, which happens to be held in the legendary Hanshin Koushien Stadium. They are up against bigger teams from bigger schools who will test just how far can they go to reach their dreams.

Air Gear

MAL Rated 7.70, Ranked #1051 | Aired Spring 2006 | Produced by Marvelous Entertainment and Kodansha

Air Gear! Sports Anime, Itsuki Minami
Itsuki “Ikki” Minami is just your typical street-fighting teenager. Then, he discovers an Air Trek, a futuristic version of roller skates, and a badge that belongs to the Air Trek gang named Sleeping Forest. Suddenly, his life changes and he is sucked into the stormy yet exciting world of Air Trek street racing.

Kuroko No Basket 2nd Season

MAL Rated 8.61, Ranked #61 | Aired Spring 2006 | Produced by Nihon Ad Systems, et.al.

Kuroko No Basket 2nd Season, Kuroko fist bump
“You will be the light and I will be your shadow” -- this has been Kuroku Tetsuya's promise to Taiga Kagami, both members of Seirin's basketball team. While Kagami plays with an explosive and powerful style of basketball, Kuroko is the complete opposite and uses his lack of presence and skill with passing to make an impact.

Major S5

MAL Rated 8.59, Ranked #67 | Aired Winter 2009 | Produced by NHK

Major S5 Sports Anime, Gorou Honda
Succeeding as an athlete requires drive, competitiveness, perseverance, and skill. Gorou Honda seems to have all this. However, he has lost track of his main goal countless of times, too. He has been injured, demotivated, and doubtful. Now fighting in the Baseball World Cup, will Gorou be able to conquer all obstacles to win?

Free! Eternal Summer

MAL Rated 7.96, Ranked #576 | Aired Summer 2014 | Produced by Kyoto Animation, et.al

Free! Eternal Summer Sports Anime, Samezuka Academy team
Dive with the Iwatobi Swim Club as another year in school begins. The club is doing great in many competitions. However, team members Haruka Nanase, Makoto Tachibana, and Rin Matsuoka are on the verge of making important decisions for their future. Will they be able to decide without letting go of their passion or will it be the end of their course?

Free! Eternal Summer is a must-watch sports anime. Not only does it have many hot guys in their swimming trunks (fangirl alert!), but it also serves as a compelling drama.

Ping Pong: The Animation

MAL Rated 8.67, Ranked #44 | Aired Spring 2014 | Produced by Aniplex, et.al.

Ping Pong: The Animation, peco and smile on train looking bored
It is quite rare for anime to use table tennis as the premise for a show, but this series does just that, and features radically different animation and heartfelt storytelling that is highly unusual, even outside the sports genre. Makoto “Smile” Tsukimoto and Yutaka “Peco” Hoshino are childhood friends who share the same love for table tennis. It is a tale of growth, of struggle, of ideals, and of life. Don't miss this one.

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