Are you a fan of sports anime? Then you’ve come to the right place. Looking for some high-octane action and adrenaline-pumping storylines to get your feet in gear? We have compiled a list of the very best sports anime ever made.
These 26 shows have one thing in common – they’re all fantastic. Here, you’ll find something for everyone – regardless of which sport lights your fire.
Get ready for a wild ride as we explore the historical genre of sports anime. Our comprehensive list details why each show is so loved by fans across the globe.
So, join us as we cross past barriers and boundaries to bring you an unforgettable experience that only sports anime can provide:
26. All Out!!
All Out!!, the sports anime from director Kenichi Shimizu and production company Madhouse, chronicles the journey of Kenji Gion as he tries to become Japan’s best high school Rugby player.
Held up as one of the best in its genre, this show has a great combination of drama, comedy and action-packed rugby matches to keep viewers entertained.
In addition to determining the fate of its main characters, the anime also shows its primarily male characters developing relationships based on trust and respect while striving for victory in each match they face.
All Out!! is also known for its amazing animation quality and soundtracks, which make all scenes engaging.
25. Yuri!!! on Ice
Yuri!!! on Ice is an extremely popular anime within the sports genre and has caught the attention of people around the world.
It follows Yuri Katsuki, a figure skater who experiences a major downfall and then decides to take up Victor Nikiforov as his coach to reclaim his title as a champion.
In their journey, they come across many trials and tribulations but manage to overcome them with determination and perseverance.
The thoughtful character development adds depth to each of the players while also portraying competitiveness in all the characters engaged in perfecting their craft of figure skating.
Although Yuri!!! On Ice’s story is rooted in professional sports, and its relatable elements, like strong bonding between family members and friends and love stories that spread much deeper than romance, add emotional comfort for viewers. The balanced story leaves us feeling inspired by what we watched and is enough to cheer anyone up when needed.
24. Inazuma Eleven
Inazuma Eleven is a unique sports anime that has been gaining more and more fans each day. It is about a football team striving to become the best in Japan against all odds.
The animation style blends high-intensity soccer action with comedic moments between characters, creating a perfect balance that makes it great for people of all ages.
Every episode delivers an exciting and moving story full of life lessons and memorable characters. The series also features some incredible creature designs that make the games feel both familiar and alien at the same time.
Additionally, Inazuma Eleven places an emphasis on teamwork and friendship, as it follows the main protagonist Mark Evans as he works with his teammates to help build their football skills up in order to reach their ultimate goal – winning the Football Frontier International tournament.
23. Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club
Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is one of the most popular sports anime series of all time. The anime follows the story of four competitive swimmers and their struggles in and outside of the pool.
It examines different aspects of teamwork, motivation, perseverance, and friendship as they set out to achieve their dreams.
The characters are lovingly brought to life with dynamic animation and vivid art style. Despite being a sports anime, Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is more than just an inspirational tale; it has elements of comedy, drama, and adventure that can delight viewers both new to the sports anime genre and avid fans.
The thrilling races and intense rivalries will keep viewers hooked from start to finish as each episode builds up to an exciting finale.
22. Ashita no Joe
Ashita no Joe, the classic Japanese sports anime, is one of the best examples of how anime can bring drama and excitement to the beloved genre of sports.
Following the story of aspiring boxer Joe Yabuki, viewers are taken on an emotional journey as he struggles against poverty and adversity in order to become a boxing champion.
Despite being many decades old, Ashita no Joe still holds up today with its exciting action scenes and thoughtful exploration of humanity’s greatest qualities. The show is notably popular among young people due to its relatable themes, captivating dialogue, and timeless art style.
With a gripping story that deserves countless rewatches, Ashita no Joe stands alone as an essential entry into the world of sports anime.
This remarkable piece truly encapsulates why so many sports fans around the world enjoy watching this genre: heartfelt characterization and gripping tension will keep any viewer captivated until the very end.
Yawara! is a popular sports anime that follows the story of a young judo practitioner Yawara Inokuma. Not only does Yawara engage in judo, but she also embarks on a journey to finding herself as she balances her martial arts training with high school and other everyday obligations.
Through this story, viewers get to see Yawara develop her skills as well as fight against formidable opponents. Along the way, Yawara’s deep connections with family, friends, and even rivals make this anime truly inspiring.
The characters in this anime show dedication towards their crafts which becomes all the more affecting when their dreams are threatened.
Yawara! offers a realistic view into the sport while giving life lessons along the way. Thus, it gives viewers an enjoyable experience with exciting action and unforgettable storylines.
20. Princess Nine
Princess Nine is a classic sports anime that has been adored by anime fans for decades. It originally aired on April 9th, 1998, and ran until March 25th, 1999.
The series follows the story of Ryo Hayakawa, a high school student extraordinaire who captained her own baseball team and led the charge against her male opponents.
Princess Nine follows Ryo’s tribulations while trying to prove herself as a player and a person in an all-boys team. Apart from being an inspirational tale of somebody making their dreams a reality despite all odds, it also showcases highly refined animations, with each character exhibiting different walks and gesticulations according to their personality.
In many ways, Princess Nine served to legitimize female hero protagonists in sports fiction and continues to be revered for its positive message about gender roles and life ambition.
19. Bamboo Blade
Bamboo Blade is an exciting and action-packed sports anime that fans of the genre should definitely check out. All the characters have distinct personalities and interesting relationships between them, which really brings the show to life.
The story follows a high school kendo team as they battle their way to the national tournament championship. As one of the smaller schools enters, they must learn to trust each other, develop innovative strategies, and bring their individual skills together in order to succeed.
This has created a very enjoyable sports anime full of intense match-ups, drama, and fun banter between club members. Watching the team grow and adjust its strategy around unexpected opponents is incredibly satisfying.
17. Diamond No Ace (Ace of Diamond)
Sports anime strives to capture the essence of the sport while entertaining viewers with intense drama and unforgettable characters.
One such series that succeeds in that mission is “Diamond No Ace (Ace of Diamond)”, following Eijun Sawamura as he takes on pitching challenges.
Initially struggling, this hardworking high-schooler grows rapidly as a pitcher, making incredible plays throughout the series.
Not only does his story provide inspiration for viewers, but it also shows the importance of never giving up, no matter how difficult things may get.
With its realistic match scenes and thrilling plot twists, Diamond No Ace has become one of the most popular sports anime released in recent years.
Those watching are sure to find themselves emotionally invested in some way as each episode progresses, captivated by this iconic series’ raw and intense passion for baseball.
Haikyuu!! It is an immensely popular and acclaimed sports anime series centred around the sport of volleyball. The show follows a young underdog protagonist named Hinata Shoyo as he battles against all odds to prove himself, alongside his ever-growing team at Karasuno High School, as one of the greatest volleyball players in Japan.
Every episode is filled with dedication, hard work, and determination as it fashions a unique story full of humour, drama, and heartfelt relationships.
It’s no wonder that this high-energy anime has earned millions of fans internationally. Its mix of intense tournament matches and inspiring characters makes it an ideal viewing experience for any lover of sports or anime.
15. Baby Steps
Sports Anime “Baby Steps” follows the journey of Eiichirō Maruo, a true beginner who strives to become a Tennis Prodigy. Maruo joins his school’s tennis club, where he meets Takashi Natsuo and Hiroshi Abe, two experienced players who help him learn techniques and strategies from playing the game.
Despite being a total amateur, Maruo applies the same principles of studying that helped him ace the entrance exam into high school – hard work and dedication.
As he slowly but surely improves over time, Maruo experiences personal growth both on and off the court as he takes on different opponents.
Through exciting matches and well-developed characters, the Sports Anime “Baby Steps” is not only an accurate portrayal of intense competition in professional sports but also an inspiring story of how grit and determination can help one reach unimaginable heights.
14. The Initial D Stage First Stage
The Initial D Stage First Stage is a classic sports anime released in 1998. It tells the story of Takumi Fujiwara, an ace street racer from Mt. Akina, who learns to face his own fears and parry away the competition as Japan’s best racers come to take him on in exciting drag races.
Despite the series having aged 20 years ago, it still remains incredibly popular with viewers of all ages – some fans have even gone so far as to modify their cars as a homage to the show.
Taking place over 18 episodes, The Initial D Stage First Stage is still regarded as one of the most influential racing shows ever created – it injected a whole new level of energy and excitement into sports anime genres which showed no signs of slowing down until today.
13. Cross Game
“Cross Game” is a popular sports anime that depicts the power of dreams and bonds. Set in the town of Utagoe, it chronicles the journey of young baseball players Kou and Aoba in their quest to make it to “Koshien”, Japan’s most prestigious tournament for high school baseball.
The show revolves around Kou’s relationship with his four childhood friends and their dream of reaching Koshien.
Despite its unique sports-heavy plot, “Cross Game” dives into deep themes like family, friendship and ambition. It also showcases exciting game sequences by narrating tense yet smart baseball strategies along with its impactful music score, making it an immersive experience for viewers.
This series follows the story of two boys who used to be rivals in middle school, but they are now reunited as members of the same high school’s soccer team.
In their pursuit of becoming Japan’s top soccer club, they must learn to overcome their differences and instead rely on each other to meet their goal.
The tournament arcs add extra complexity and emotion as the stakes rise higher and higher. Yet, even when push comes to shove, this anime is heavily focused on the strong bonds between its characters, creating engaging story moments that make it difficult to tear yourself away from watching the next match.
11. One Out
One Out is an intense Japanese sports drama series that offers plenty of excitement and suspense. It follows the story of a genius pitcher who, though talented, lacks the drive to compete.
The series follows his journey as he slowly begins to develop a competitive spirit and discovers the value of pushing his limits.
Along the way, viewers get treated to edge-of-your-seat baseball action and train-your-eye moments as he develops his craft.
One Out does a great job of using every minute detail to deliver an unforgettably exciting story about camaraderie and perseverance.
It’s sure to captivate anyone who has ever enjoyed playing or watching sports anime of any kind, whether it’s baseball or rugby, volleyball or badminton.
10. Prince of Tennis
The sports anime “Prince of Tennis” is a classic example of how a passionate sport can create a strong bond between teams and fans.
The series follows the young tennis prodigy Ryoma Echizen, who searches for ways to continually improve his skills as he battles against increasingly skilled opponents.
He fights with unwavering determination, coupled with his impressive technical skills, to inspire a renewed vigour in the players around him throughout his quest to become the best tennis player ever.
As ‘Prince of Tennis’ progresses, viewers anxiously wait to find out if Ryoma will be able to overcome challenges posed by stronger rivals while maintaining that same level of enthusiasm; an aspect of the show which has earned it many fans both domestically and internationally.
If you’re looking for an exciting sports anime series that captures the incredible power of friendship and competitive spirit shared among teammates, then “Prince of Tennis” is highly recommended.
9. Eyeshield 21
If you’re a fan of high-stakes sports anime, then the intense show “Eyeshield 21” is a must-watch. Following the story of bullied teen Sena Kobayakawa, Eyeshield 21 shows him as he rises from sidekick to star player in order to make it to the top.
The show follows his journey as a timid but determined protagonist who takes on seemingly insurmountable challenges. A unique feature of this show lies in its focus on American football, giving it an edge over similar sports and coming-of-age anime.
While his athletic rivals often underestimate him, Sena’s wit and speed help him outrun even the strongest and longest odds. As he joins the illustrious American football team, Deimon Devil Bats, his effort and enthusiasm ultimately lead him to succeed against all odds.
8. Kuroko No Basket (Kuroko’s Basketball)
Anime “Kuroko No Basket” is an amazingly popular sports anime that has gained worldwide attention due to its engaging story and thrilling action.
Follow the story of Seirin High School’s basketball club as they attempt the remarkable feat of contending with well-established celebrity teams in Japan’s highest league.
The team consists of compelling characters, each bringing their own unique style of ability to the match. This show focuses on teamwork, strategy, friendship and respect, getting viewers emotionally invested in every character regardless of their chosen team. Every episode carries a feeling of uncertainty as well as excitement rarely seen in other types of genres.
Kuroko No Basket offers unique entertainment with its blend of comedy, drama, and sporting events. It can make you laugh, hold your breath during intense games, shed a tear for its sincere moments and cry out with joy during its epic climaxes.
7. Ping Pong Animation
Ping Pong Animation is a popular sports anime series renowned for its real-life approach to the world of competitive ping pong. This groundbreaking series follows two high school boys, Peco and Smile, as they attempt to become international superstars of the game.
The best part of this show is how it portrays victory and defeat with equal gravitas. As the characters strive for greater heights in their game, you can sympathize with them as they feel both the emotional and physical exhaustion that comes with performing at an elite level.
Even non-sports fanatics will get drawn into the intense matches on screen. With its stunning animation, memorable characters, and fun dialogue between rivals, Ping Pong Animation is truly an anime masterpiece.
6. Yowamushi pedal
Sports anime have been a popular genre for over a decade, and Yowamushi Pedal is one of the best sports anime series out there. From its beginnings as a manga to its animated debut, Yowamushi Pedal has captivated audiences with its unique cast of characters and exciting plot.
The plot revolves around Sakamichi Onoda, a high school student who loves anime and video games but is also an avid cyclist. As he joins the competitive cycling club at his new school, he discovers his potential as a cyclist and embarks on an exciting journey towards becoming the best racer in Japan.
What follows is an enthralling story filled with intense races, adventurous journeys, powerful relationships and inspiring moments that make it an absolute must-watch for all sports enthusiasts and anime lovers alike.
Moreover, Yowamushi Pedal comes with great production values and stunning visuals, which perfectly complement its amazing plot.
5. Slam Dunk
Sports anime is a genre of anime that has gained immense popularity in recent times. One of the most iconic sports anime series to ever grace our television screens is “Slam Dunk”. This classic basketball-based series was first released in 1993 and quickly became a sensation.
It follows a young basketball enthusiast, Hanamichi Sakuragi, on his journey to fulfil his ambition of becoming the greatest basketball player in Japan. It follows him as he assembles a rag-tag team of brilliant misfits and leads them all the way to the National Tournament.
Those unfamiliar with this classic will be delighted to find out that apart from the incredibly realistic rendition of basketball matches, Slam Dunk also conveys an important message about teamwork and camaraderie which remain relevant even today.
4. Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
Ookiku Furikabutte, or Big Windup!, is an exciting sports anime that follows the struggles of high school students as they grapple with both the literal and figurative triumphs and defeats of baseball.
The series begins with a young protagonist who needs to overcome his own physical and mental limitations in order to turn a small, aspiring school team into a championship winner.
With its heart-warming characters and focus on real-world baseball strategy and tactics – including quotes from the real-life late Japanese manager Senichi Hoshino – OokikuFurikabutte draws viewers into a thrilling world of sportsmanship and camaraderie.
By subtly examining concepts such as friendship, trust, determination, loyalty, and respect within the framework of team sports drama, OokikuFurikabutte is able to deliver an emotionally satisfying experience unique in its genre.
3. Hajime no Ippo
Hajime no Ippo is a beloved, classic sports anime series that will truly stay relevant for all time, and it’s worth taking the time to appreciate its timeless brilliance.
The main character, Ippo Makunouchi, is a timid teenage boy who trains hard every day in order to learn how to box, striving to one day become the best boxer in Japan.
He fights against various powerful opponents and discovers the deepest parts of himself along the way with determination and kindness.
While Hajime no Ippo focuses on exciting boxing matches, it’s also about the relationships formed between characters as they compete for their goals.
The series’ charming backstories and a strong sense of camaraderie will keep fans engaged from start to finish. It not only establishes itself as one of the leading sports animes of all time but also gives due credit to interest in any kind of sport that people might have.
Chihayafuru is an anime series about competitive Karuta, a traditional Japanese card game. The story follows Chihaya Ayase as she embarks on an exciting journey gathering friends to form a Karuta team in order to achieve her dream of becoming the best Karuta player in Japan.
Through her rigorous training and competition, Chihaya displays the strength of character required to reach her goal. This sports anime emphasizes that teamwork, dedication, and determination are necessary for success.
It also promotes cooperation among players and fosters healthy competition – all while delivering exquisite visuals and exciting plot twists.
Although this sports anime series heavily focuses on Karuta tournaments, it also involves plenty of drama between relationships with other characters to keep viewers engaged throughout.
“Major” is an anime series from Japan that revolves around baseball and the life of its protagonist Goro Honda. Join Goro as he goes through his life playing professional baseball and dealing with the challenges that go along with it, such as figuring out how to balance work and personal life.
Along his journey, Goro meets many different characters that help show him how to strengthen his skills and become a better player.
As he follows his dream of becoming the best Major League Baseball player in Japan, you can feel inspired by this determined young man and get an understanding of what it takes to reach such a high level in sports.
With its dramatic storylines and vibrant artwork, “Major” is undoubtedly one of the top sports anime series for any fan of animation and baseball alike. Its inspiring themes make it clear why it remains popular among fans even today.
All in all, the 26 best sports anime of all time are truly a collection of the crème de la crème of this genre. Whether one is a fan of competitive martial arts, basketball, soccer, or even horse racing and fishing, there is something for everyone here.
From stories about young children striving to become champions to those about adults fighting for their dreams and passions, these anime contain humour and drama with lessons of determination and perseverance.
Ultimately each series on the list can leave viewers inspired to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. Now let us break out our cheering flags and start watching these amazing shows.