32 CommentsEditorials, Hype Building / By Scamp /

Drop your prejudice for sports anime and actually watch some

Sports anime? No thank you!

This upcoming spring anime season is an interesting one for a bunch of reasons, the most notable of which being the rather unusual shortage of moe titles. However one thing that many people have commented on is the rather large number of sports anime this season. Giant Killing, another season of Major, Big Windup 2 (or Ookybooky Fookybooky or whatever it’s weeaboo name is) and some second season to a boxing anime that nobody has ever heard of. And yet again we get the standard reaction of disinterest because it’s a sports anime, despite the fact that barely anyone has actually watched any sports anime.

The alternative reaction usually goes something along the lines of “I don’t like sports anime, except Cross Game” when Cross Game is the only sports anime they’ve watched. There’s an automatic reaction amongst anime fans that they won’t like it because it involves sports, an assumption often based off little to no experience with the genre. What’s more bizarre is the people who fall into the ‘hate sports anime bar X’ category have often only watched that single title out of the genre. And yet with a 100% record success with the sports genre they still blacklist every sports anime. Most people tend to place this upon the fact that the majority of anime fans are nerds who do not like sports, which is a pretty fair assumption to make. However even people who do like both sports and anime seem to be oddly put off by the sports genre, again having their dislike for sports anime founded on next to nothing.

The point of this post is to ask people could you please drop your ridiculous prejudice towards sports anime and actually watch some. Hajime no Ippo has been consistently ranked as one of the greatest anime of all time and yet surprisingly few people have even considered watching it. In all my time trawling across season previews, I think I’ve only seen one person who even mentioned that they even tried to watch Major, despite seemingly having a new season every year. I personally will sing praises of One Outs until the cows come home (or alternatively, in some more people actually watched that show). I’ll admit a personal amount of reluctance to start the likes of Hajime no Ippo and Eyeshield 21, another extremely highly rated sports anime, due to the length of them, but I will not dismiss them because they are sports anime.

I’m not saying sports anime are fantastic or anything. For every action-packed romp like One Outs, there’s a borefest like Taisho Baseball Girls (although I think I might be the minority on that one). For every piece of intelligently written work like Cross Game, there’s a steaming pile of retardedness like Basquash. But is that any different from any other genre of anime? For every Gurren Lagann there’s a Linebarrels of Iron. For every Kannagi there’s an Akikan. For that reason the only thing you can do is actually watch the stuff that’s well rated. Take your comrades word for once and actually watch the show. Now let me do a full circle here and return to next season. In my usual trawling of the internet to find review of the manga that the upcoming anime are based off, I have yet to find a single person who does not praise Giant Killing. Now I have also heard that there was apparently some sort of disagreement between Studio Deen and the mangaka so bigging up this anime might come back to haunt me, but for gods sake, do not dismiss it because it is a sports anime. Because ask yourself, how many have you actually watched to base this dislike off?

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  1. Posted March 24, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Taisho was pretty awesome mostly because it was an exercise in Girl power, which is something I can definitely approve of. One Outs is pretty weak for a baseball anime, except that it’s the characters which made it awesome. The battles between Toua and OHHHHNUHHHH were hilarious.

    I think the stigma for sports anime started around Prince of Tennis because of its length, but I might be wrong on that.

  2. Posted March 24, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I’ve watched some sports anime in my life. I have yet to watch one that I’ve despised. Except the English version of Eyeshield21, which cracks me up every time I watch the first episode. And the OP is so bad…XD

    I’ve found that it requires a certain mood to feel like watching sports anime, and if I’m not in that mood, it can be a challenge. Not to mention my normal anime watching issues. orz

    If Giant Killing is good, it’s good, but I don’t think any sports anime will be able to just break from the mold and be ~awesome~ to a vast amount of people.

  3. Posted March 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    I do plan to watch Giant Killing. At least check is out.

    And I picked up Princess Nine from my library this week. Definitely excited about that.

  4. Posted March 24, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m all on board the Giant Killing train for this season — I’m even thinking about blogging it. Depends on how it looks early, of course, but there you go. Helps that I got a better appreciation for soccer football while covering it in college, and that the series is apparently going to be 26 episodes instead of stretching on forever.

    I need to watch Hajime no Ippo some time. Boxing always struck as a sport that translates well to fiction. It’s a one-on-one sport, so it’s simple to find a focus, and it’s intense as well. Baseball might be the sport of poets — as we Americans so love to claim :p — but give me a good boxing story any day.

  5. Posted March 24, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Actually, every athletic person I know likes sports anime fine (shrug)

    Most people I know who don’t watch sports anime simply don’t care about sports. So it’s like… you already don’t care at all about half the series’ content right there, so why bother? Yeah, it could be really good, but like you’ve written in a post before trying out a bunch of series just for that minuscule chance that you’ll come across a homerun tends to be a waste of time; especially when you do it in a genre where you don’t even have a fallback on, that something else you can at least enjoy even if you don’t like the other parts.

    Of course, if a sports anime is trying to sell itself as something more than just pure sports that’s a whole different matter. I picked up Yakyuu Taishou Musume for its historical setting, and I checked out Basquash because the idea of giant-robo-basketball is just… ridiculous. But frankly a lot of Sports anime fails to sell itself as more than just “sports”, and genre-crossing can do this category a whole realm of good.

  6. Posted March 25, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Yeah, like Aorii is saying, I fall in that third group of people who don’t watch sports anime because they don’t watch sports. That said, I looked into Giant Killing because of the art style. Then I looked into the manga because of the lead role. Now I’m looking into the anime because I enjoyed the first chapter. If the anime doesn’t work out, I’ll just go back to the manga, but either way, I want to ride out this one.

  7. Posted March 25, 2010 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    The sports genre on average has treated me a lot better than most anime genres. For one, I will watch anything in tournament format. Anything. Also, sports inherently comes with action, strategy, suspense, and drama. Throwing good characters and comedy into the mix usually isn’t too hard either.

  8. Posted March 25, 2010 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    I’ve been meaning to make this post myself, actually. Every time I read ‘I’m not interested in sports, but I liked this manga’ I think ‘did you people forget that you are, in fact, READING MANGA?!’ I’m not really interested in being a doctor, that doesn’t make Monster suck. I’m not interested in being in a biker gang, that doesn’t make Akira suck. Le sigh….

  9. Posted March 25, 2010 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    Actually, you’re looking at it a little wrong Digitalboy. It’s not “I’m not interested in being a doctor,” rather it’s “I’m not interested in medical dramas.” It’s the genre rather than the element. To some extent, a person who has no interest House, ER, and Grey’s Anatomy would have decent justification for not watching Monster. In the same vein, someone who lacks interest in baseball, basketball, or football, would have decent justification for not watching Cross Game.

    Of course, it’d be great for everyone to broaden their horizons a bit, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do this year.

  10. Posted March 25, 2010 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    I generally only like the sports anime that aren’t the overdone ones. Or ones that aren’t even really considered sports (Go, Mahjong)

    I did enjoy One Outs though but every other baseball anime I have watched was a snore fest. Hell one outs was even pretty boring but the characters were awesome so it made it enjoyable for me.

    I will get around to Hajime no Ippo, and Slam Dunk one day though. I have no interest in the sports but they seem to be ones that every anime fan should watch. Especially in Hajime no Ippo’s case. my best friend has been nagging me to watch that for years heh

    Someone needs to make a hockey anime XD

  11. Posted March 25, 2010 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    “To some extent, a per­son who has no interest House, ER, and Grey’s Ana­tomy would have decent jus­ti­fic­a­tion for not watch­ing Mon­ster.”

    Well, not really, since Monster isn’t a medical drama at all. :p

  12. PanTh3R
    Posted March 25, 2010 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    WhaT?!? everyone has to watch Hajime no Ippo one of the GREATEST anime ever in my opinion, and Major was also really good. Both were awesome anime and i cant wait till the new Major season airs and when they start with the new Hajime no Ippo season too!!!

  13. Posted March 25, 2010 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! The most important thing to remember about sports anime is that it’s the characterization that’s the most important, not the sport itself. If you end up caring about the characters, it doesn’t matter if you like the sport that they’re playing. I could care less about kendo, but I thought Bamboo Blade was funny and entertaining. I hate watching boxing, but Hajime no Ippo was fascinating.

    Personally my favorite all time sports anime (and one of my favorite anime in general) is Touch, which if you can get over the 80s animation style, is a wonderful series. If people like Cross Game, they may also like Touch, as they’re both based on manga by the same mangaka.

    I am also looking forward to Giant Killing.

  14. Posted March 25, 2010 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    I am not a sports fan, never have been. I didn’t play sports in school. I don’t watch actual sports, and have no interest in sports movies. I have, however watched several sports anime, namely: Princess 9, Big Windup, and Hajime no Ippo. In fact, as a kid I watched Speed Racer religiously.

    Despite that, I don’t think I’ll bother watching any of the sports genre shows this Spring. As far as Big Windup season 2 goes, I would rather marathon it, if I see it at all. I have heard some good things about Giant Killing, particularly that it emphasizes strategy, which sounds intriguing, but, unless I drop enough other shows, or if I hear from bloggers, such as yourself, that it was brilliant, I’m just not gonna bother.

  15. Posted March 25, 2010 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    To reiterate what Baka-Raptor said:


    Now with that said, I always say that I hate sports/mecha anime, but I like everyone I see? I guess I ignore myself. I should watch more sports anime.

    Then again, I’ve seen, what, three shows in each genre? If that. A small sample size but a sample size none the less.

  16. Vanessa
    Posted March 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s just very subjective, like all tastes in anime are. I used to hate the idea of sports anime until I got into Prince Of Tennis. People still have this stigma in their mind that ‘oh crap, it’s an annoying kid WHO WANTS TO BE THE BEST and will spend long episodes training, then tournament-tournament-tournament-tournament… oh dear there’s an enemy who’s a bit stronger than me, who I’ll beat anyway’.

    But, there is quite a lot of fantastic character development in anime. Prince Of Tennis isn’t just good-looking guys playing tennis. The team is made up of a really-hard-pushed kid, a misunderstood guy, a cheery but quiet guy, a cheery gymnastic guy, cheery gymnastic guy’s kind best friend, an average guy who tries his best, and the team captain who has an angsty backstory.

    And Eyeshield 21 is just hilarious. :’D

  17. Scamp
    Posted March 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink


    Length is a big problem with most sports anime. When you think of the big names, such as eyeshield 21 and Hajime, both are over 50 episodes long. I suffer from serious allergic reactions to any number over 40


    When Hajime no Ippo ranks in the top 10 anime of all time on MAL even after airing several years ago, I think that counts as breaking the mold and everyone thinking it’s awesome


    I looked up Princess 9 and only found Princess 69


    Noes, I was gonna blog it, don’t you go stealing ma readers again!!!

    jk~ I need to practice what I preach and watch Hajime no Ippo myself. Boxing is an unbelievably dull sport to watch IRL but I see what you mean by it working in screenplay format.

    Err…now there’s a bunch of these comments that sorta answer each other. @Aorii and @Rakuen I can answer you by taking Digitalboys version and saying that not watching sports anime because you don’t like sports is like not watching Hospital dramas because you don’t like medicine and first aid (Monster, as Shinmaru says, is a bad example). What AJthefourth said is true, it’s about the characterisation far more than the sport itself. It’s like saying you don’t like rock music so you won’t watch Beck. While there may be added enjoyment if you do like the subject matter, characterisation is what drives anything. If you took that thought process into account then nobody would have ever watched Hikaru no Go. So no Rakuen, your analogy doesn’t work. Saying ‘I don’t like medical dramas’ is a direct reference to the type of show it is, something you cannot base your dislike of unless you’ve watched some. Which is the exact same as sports anime, which is the exact point I’m trying to put across here. Heck, you’ve read Giant Killing and liked it but are you still going to think you dislike sports anime?


    Actually my sports genre conversion rate hasn’t been great. Asides from those I mentioned in the post, I’m watching Big Windup but I can’t get into it and I’ve also had a brief dip into the Prince of Tennis manga, which is the single worst manga I’ve read in my life. That’s only a 2/6 conversion rate.


    My board game anime consumption has been limited to reading and moderately enjoying the first two Hikaru no Go manga and dropping Saki after one episode. My the thing about them is I can’t follow what’s going on so I feel kinda stupid while other characters say ‘oh, what a great move!’


    Another Hajime no Ippo reccomendation, must get around to that one day


    What’s stoppind me starting Touch is that it’s apparently the EXACT SAME as Cross Game. Second hand info from manga fanatics tell me that every Adachi manga, while very good, are exactly the same. I need a long break from Cross Game before I start Touch


    Yeah I’m a bit wary of bigging up Giant Killing. The manga reviews are fantastic but a combination of in-house fighting and a less-than-stellar trailer is making me wary


    Exactly! Now go watch some more of those genres! Actually I’m not that much of a fan of tournament formulas because in the eariler rounds there’s no tension because you know who’ll win


    I’ll be blunt here, but I read the PoT manga and thought it was absolutely dire in so many ways. But either way, at least you dropped the prejudice. The only genre I think I have prejudice against is hardcore yaoi

  18. Posted March 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    If you’re interested in gaming series, I enjoyed Shion no Ou, Akagi and I’m pretty sure my hard-on for Kaiji is well documented at this point. :p Shion no Ou and Kaiji have great stories to go along with their games, so it’s not all shogi/random games, all the time. Akagi is more focused on its game — mahjong — but the craziness and intensity of the show’s lead character helped me get past not knowing what the hell was going on in each game.

  19. Posted March 25, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I think some people have addressed the idea that typical anime fan != sports fan, but even from the prospective of a sports fan such as myself sports anime still has a couple hurdles to overcome.

    A) Sports anime is the twin brother of shounen action genre. Lengthy episode counts, tournament formats, crazy exaggerated powers, similar character templates across shows. Sports anime isn’t for the typical anime fan you’d find in the blogosphere, more for the Sounen Jump crowd.

    B) I’d rather watch live sports to satisfy my sports fix.

    Having said that, I’ll pick up a sports anime once in a while for a little something different in my anime diet, but I have no desire for heaps of it.

    Also, search “Princess Nine” ;)

  20. Taka
    Posted March 25, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    When I first started watching anime consistently one of the first shows I followed religiously was the bicycle anime Over Drive. Unfortunately like 5 other people watched it besides me. Though anyone who has seen it all the way through always rates it pretty well. Not landmark but not bad. In short, I will always give sports anime a shot because of that one show that turned out golden for me.

    I wish Giant Killing was about American Football instead. I’ll watch it but I just can’t imagine a title like that applying to a non-full contact sport. Oh well…I guess their is still Eyeshield 21 it’s only up to 145 episodes that’s pixie stix compared to if I tried to get into One Piece’s dominating…446 EPISODES!?
    holy shit.

  21. Posted March 26, 2010 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about this issue myself lately – I was looking back on what I’d watched in 2009 and realised I hadnt watched any sports anime at all (or watched the1st few episodes and then dropped).

    I fall into ‘hate sports, dislike sports anime’ category – I have absolutely no interest in sport of any kind (the exceptions being the Olympics, the World Cup (only when Ireland are in it :P) and when Down are doing well in the Gaelic) apart from that I avoid it like the plague. Its kind of bled over into my aversion to sport related anime – which is odd given my love of shounen anime. Managed about 70 episodes of Prince of Tennis once upon a time but got bored.

    I’ve made an effort to get rid of this mindset recently mainly due to Cross Game which I’m really enjoying. Currently watching Basquash (which is mindlessly entertaining if you don’t pay too much attention to it) and have One Outs on hand – definately plan to watch Hajime no Ippo (mainly because a friend is pressuring me, and that same friend is responsible for making me give One Piece another chance so I respect her opinion) and try Major.

    Board game series don’t seem to have the same mental block – Shion no Ou and Hikaru no Go I really enjoyed and Kaji was brilliant (Akagi I havent gotten round to yet).

    This season I definately plan to give Giant Killing a chance – the art appeals to me and I just generally have a good feeling about it.

  22. Posted March 26, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Dudeeee Ill say this now, you should totally give Eyeshield 21 a shot.

    I made a recommendation post about it not long ago. If you dont feel like reading it, feel free to browse through the images XD


  23. Posted March 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    @Scamp – “What AJthefourth said is true, it’s about the char­ac­ter­isa­tion far more than the sport itself…. While there may be added enjoy­ment if you do like the sub­ject mat­ter, char­ac­ter­isa­tion is what drives any­thing.”

    Any medium is capable of good characterization (as well as comedy/drama). With that in mind, I think I’d rather select a medium I’m more likely to enjoy the process or rather than a medium I’m wholehearted unfamiliar and noncaring about. It’s like, if I can pick a sports anime which has interesting characters or another anime which has good characters PLUS other genre mediums I like, it’s pretty obvious what I would choose given a limited time.

    Choices aren’t made by “whether this is good” but by “whether this is better than the alternative”. Course, one can argue that everyone also watch a lot of crappy shows, but they’re mostly trials into the newly aired, and you’re just as likely to pick up a crappy sports anime.

  24. heyheyho
    Posted March 26, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Well, at least I grew up watching some sport animes…
    Captain Tsubasa in all the versions (even the really old one), Hungry Heart wild strikers, Eyeshield 21…
    I think I’ll give this one a shot.

  25. BoozerX
    Posted March 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    You need to see Slam Dunk or Eyeshield 21 , if you dont like it then you dont like the genre.
    They are both great animes and more awesome manga
    When I saw Giant Killing in the lineup a Hell Yeah!! was heard.
    Sport anime is very visceral , you have the underdogs and root like crazy for them.
    And Hiruma from ES21 is one of the greatest character I read or saw.

  26. Mr. Carpenter
    Posted April 6, 2010 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    I don’t know why but Im pretty much into with sports anime. I love watching Captain Tsubasa, Hajime Ippo, Initial D, Major with new season 6 now airing, Slam Dunk, Prince of Tennis, One Outs, and just finished Cross Game. Just love to watch anime

  27. Poko
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    I’m a HUGE fan of sports anime and can tell you Giant Killing and Major S6 are absolutely addicting!! Rather, I’m very much thankful for the lack of moe and ecchi titles… anime just hasn’t been the same since the recent explosion of interest in ecchi and harem animes… disgusting.

  28. mcm38
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think ppl are thinking this way of sports anime because they’re nerds. It’s just anime is mostly subconsiously related to 1. Comedy, 2. Action, 3. Sci-Fi 4. Mecha etc. But nobody would think sports is a major genre in anime and it’s not, so they think anime with sports can’t be good. Also, another fact is that humans tend to badmouth the unknown. Just like how we think aliens are bad creatures and made lots of films in it picturing them as the ‘enemy’.

    • mcm38
      Posted May 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      Btw, Eyeshields Hiruma and One Outs Toua are imo, long lost brothers, who were seperated when they were born. They both have almost the same mindset when it comes to sports and scaring of the enemy. Not to mention they both are able to totaly obliterate their enemy, both physically and psychologically only using their brains. Well, Toua is also using his skill in throwing. But that’s also another skill he earned using his intelligence.

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