10 Best Sports Anime That Don’t Deserve The Hate


Sports anime is a massively popular and beloved genre. The exciting, thrilling, dramatic narratives of young athletes and their journeys to stardom captivated anime fans for decades. The genre continues to produce some of the most universally acclaimed series in the medium. However, as with any other popular anime genre, not everyone is fond of sports titles, and the most popular exemplars in this category face endless criticisms. Sports anime get deprecated for their repetitive story beats, clichéd character development, and predictable, by-the-books narratives.



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Some of the most hated anime series out there fall under the sports category, which made the genre’s reputation quite substandard. However, most sports series targeted by never-ending critiques and complaints don’t deserve the hate. In reality, they tell incredible, exciting stories and, when given a chance, can win over even the most skeptical viewer.

10 Dismiss Free! As A Depthless Fanservice Series Is Unfair To The Show’s Nuanced Narrative

Even among diehard sports anime fans, Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club gets a bad reputation. Most fans dismiss this Kyoto animation classic as an unoriginal and uninspired fanservice bait, believing that the show’s only hook is the cast full of attractive male characters.

However, like most shows created by the legendary studio, Free! is an outstanding masterpiece of smooth, jaw-dropping animation, accompanying a narrative that packs a real emotional punch. Each of the Iwatobi High School Swim Club’s members develops into much more than shallow eye candy, and every sports fan would be glad to experience this evolution first-hand.

9 Yuri!!! On ICE Is The Best Queer Representation Fans Got Out Of Sports Anime So Far

After its premiere in 2016, the ice skating series Yuri!!! On ICE quickly grew a loyal and dedicated fan base, contrasted with an almost as large number of haters. Although the show is far from perfect, featuring some undeniable queerbating elements and animation inconsistencies, it was still a breath of fresh air for fans yearning for authentic LGBTQ+ representation in sports anime.

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Yuri!!! On ICE could’ve been more straightforward in depicting Yuuri and Victor’s relationship. Still, it successfully incorporated a genuine, heartfelt romance into a captivating underdog story of self-improvement and personal development.

8 The Showdowns Of Chihayafuru Are Anything But Boring

Most sports series focus on exciting, intense athletic disciplines, such as basketball or tennis, which guarantee thrilling matches and dynamic showdowns in almost every episode. So, a show like Chihayafuruwhich chooses an unknown card game, karuta, as the narrative’s subject, doesn’t seem too captivating to most seasoned sports fans.

Despite the unusual subject, the show manages to make competitive karuta incredibly immersive, rivaling some of the most violent and high-stake physical sports in intensity. Chihayafuru proves there is a place for non-traditional games in the testosterone-fueled scene of sports anime.

7 Haikyuu!! Created A Perfect Sports Shonen Using The Blueprints Of Every Series That Came Before

Hate is a non-negotiable price every massively popular media has to pay for its success. As the most popular shonen sports series in the past two decades, Haikyu!! has its fair share of despisers.

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The underdog story of Shouyou Hinata and Karasuno High volleyball team’s rise to the nationals didn’t invent any of the tropes it follows. However, the simplicity of Haikyu!!’s story doesn’t undermine its achievements. The series never strived to revolutionize the sports anime genre. Instead, it perfected every previously established trope for a maximum emotional payoff.

6 keijo!!!!!!! Is Refreshingly Unapologetic About Its Fanservice

Love it or hate it, fanservice has become an integral part of the anime industry. While most series try to justify using it with some superficial reasoning, keijo!!!!!!! refuses to be ashamed of being provocative, self-indulging in all of its suggestive glory.

in essence, keijo!!!!!!! is a satirical take on the shonen sports genre which purposefully invents the most lubricious sport possible, the goal of which is for the female participants to knock each other off a floating platform into a pool using only their breasts and butts. Instead of trying to conceal or awkwardly justify the over-the-top fanservice, the series makes it one of its most distinctive features.

5 Girls Und Panzer Is A Perfect Sports Series For Moe Fans

The cute girls doing cute things premise gets an abysmal amount of hate from certain parts of the anime community, and sports series are not an exception to this cruel, unjustified bias. So the idea of ​​cute girls driving tanks at the heart of Girls and Panzer made myriads of fans dismiss the show instantaneously.

Over the years of the franchise’s run, Girls and Panzer proved that its appeal reaches far beyond the typical moe audience. This refreshing take on the classic slice-of-life trope combines the cutesy feel of classic moe shows with the excitement of some of the most thrilling sports series.

4 Kuroko’s Basketball Is An Unrealistic But Endlessly Fun And Exciting Show Full Of Memorable Moments

When thinking of the series that best encapsulate all the bizarre and unrealistic tropes associated with sports shonen, Kuroko’s Basketball is the first show that comes to mind. The series features over-the-top attack names, high school students with physiques that could rival top World League players, and supernatural powers that break the laws of physics on the court.

Everything about Kuroko’s Basketballs description of the sport is very detached from reality. However, the series does a great job of keeping those who are willing to suspend their disbelief entertained throughout the entire run of its thrilling, rip-roaring story.

3 Tomorrow’s Joe Is The Series That Begun Anime’s Sports Craze

Older anime often fail to satisfy the demands of modern audiences, falling into obscurity while being overshadowed by their contemporary competitors. However, despite the lack of polished animation and slower, more gradual pacing, the classics don’t deserve the hate and can surprise even the sophisticated newer fans.

1970s Tomorrow’s Joe was one of the first sports anime to ever air and, most certainly, the most influential series in the newly established genre. The fans of modern boxing anime, such as Megalobox or Hajime no Ippoowe it to themselves to go back in time and appreciate the work that kickstarted all the trends now viewed as redundant.

2 Sk8 The Infinity’s Unrealistic Action Put Countless Fans Off

After a long lull in the scene of original sports titles, 2021 gave the fans a storm in the form of Sk8 the Infinity, a wild ride of a series that encapsulated all the excitement of the genre’s classics in a renewed packaging of studio Bones’ jaw-dropping animation. However, the show’s success didn’t save it from hate comments, mostly centered around its lack of realism.

While salsa dancing during an incredibly high-speed race isn’t something even the sport’s pros could pull off during a showdown, Sk8 the Infinity humorouslyplays into the unrealistic shonen tropes. Likewise, the lack of realism is easily forgivable for a series with such impressive character writing and development.

1 Ping Pong the Animation’s Experimental Style Was A Hit Or Miss

Anime is a medium of endless creative possibilities, and some series take this artistic liberation to heart, focusing on pushing the boundaries of conventions and creating something truly unique. Masaaki Yuasa’s entire library of work is dedicated to such experimental, unorthodox art pieces, and Ping Pong The Animation is no exception.

Often dismissed for its unusual visual style, this coming-of-age story disguised as a sports series never made it into the mainstream, remaining a hidden gem. PPTA might dissatisfy the fans of conventional sports titles, yet, its expressive and moving story doesn’t strive to appeal to everyone.

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