Who’s ready for some tournament arcs? Powerful sports series have been a staple in the anime community since the meteoric impact of Captain Tsubasa back in the ’80s.
The genre saw a major renaissance this decade, though, with dozens of beautiful and memorable series being released. Ping Pong the Animation proved that sports series could be just as much about style as they were about action, while series like Yuri!!! on ICE and Welcome to the Ballroom took a look at sports that most people wouldn’t have even thought about.
Presenting the fan-voted sports series of the decade:
In the world of sports anime, Haikyu!! was a mega success. Thanks at least in part to Production I.G.’s undeniable success in the genre, fans started showcasing their support for their favorite volleyball boy (or team of boys, if picking just one was too hard) almost immediately.
Hinata’s dedication to becoming as great as his idol, the famed “Little Giant”, makes him both an unbeatable shounen protagonist and a model athlete. His passion and dedication for volleyball reignites the spark in his new teammates, and as their bonds grow stronger, so do their skills. Haikyu!! sees continued success not from being a unique kind of sports series, but instead from mastering the tropes we’ve all come to know and love.
Free! series (2013)
This isn’t just a swimming anime. No, Free! is so much more than that. The series from Kyoto Animation chronicles a group of students and friends as they swim toward victory throughout their academic and athletic careers.
After reuniting in high school, Haruka Nanase, Nagisa Hazuki and Makoto Tachibana create the Iwatobi High School Swim Club, but without Rin Matsuoka. Rin decides that he’s better off attending a different school.
And so, the search is on for a fourth team member as an upcoming tournament looms in the distance!
Kuroko’s Basketball (2012)
Arguably one of the greatest sports anime of all time, Kuroko’s Basketball is as much about helping the opposing team’s ace players grow out of their skill-induced mental blocks as it is about the progression of Seirin’s ragtag bunch.
Kuroko, a small guy who uses his unnoticeable presence to his advantage, and Kagami, an American transfer student who’s all brawn and no brains, form a classic anime duo. Their teamwork, along with their encounters with former members of the famed Generation of Miracles, makes the series an exciting and intense adventure from start to finish.
Imagine a future where boxing is not only the most popular sport in the world, but that the fighters wear robotic exoskeletons to support their frames while fighting. But these enhancements aren’t for the boxer’s protection, they’re used to make their punches that much more dangerous.
MEGALOBOX follows Junk Dog’s quest from underground boxer to top-ranked fighter in order to take on the ring in Megalonia. Oh, and he’s got three months to do it.
Yuri!!! on ICE (2016)
This show took 2016 by storm. No one expected a sports series about figure skating to have as much of an impact on the anime community as it did. But Yuri!!! on ICE was about so much more than just figure skating, which is what made it so special.
After a series of devastating losses, Yuri Katsuki thinks it might be time to end his professional skating career. Only after his idol, world champion Victor Nikiforov, agrees to become his coach, does he start to unlock his true potential. Yuri!!! on ICE is as much a story about overcoming personal doubts as it is about athletics and competition.
Not a Funimation subscriber yet? Sign up now so you won’t miss out on all things anime.
Love creating content about anime? Pitch us a feature for Funimation Editorial!
Looking to chat with like-minded fans? Head on over to the Funimation Forums.