The Best Sports Anime of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

There are a lot of TV shows out there and in this golden age of TV streaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest and unforgettable shows through the years.

For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, our attention this time turns to sports. From boxing to football, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!

Hajime No Ippo

Hajime No Ippo is one of those sports anime that will get you invested in the sport it’s emulating. This show contains a brilliant narrative and a slew of motivational scenes that will keep you pumped and excited for more.

Our tale follows Ippo, a kind-hearted boy who has problems supporting his mother and fending off bullies. Eventually, Ippo runs into a professional boxer named Takamura, who motivates Ippo to pursue a boxing career like himself. After training and impressing Takamura, Ippo’s road to redemption begins.

Fans will enjoy following Ippo on his journey to becoming a formidable fighter. Ippo will meet many skilled and novice opponents that will test his boxing knowledge. The fights look impeccable and immersive. While the fights have this zany flair to them, Ippo’s world feels not too different from our own.

Ashita No Joe

Where Hajime No Ippo feels like a boxing retelling of Karate Kid, Ashita No Joe feels like a spiritual spin-off of the Rocky series. This anime revolves around Joe, a troubled boy that likes to solve his issues with his fists. Joe ends up fighting a local gang and walking away from the exchange victorious.

Danpei Tange, a former boxing coach, notices his victory and offers him an opportunity to become a boxer. Although Joe struggles to throw away his old-school habits, he agrees to live with Danpei to learn the art of boxing.

Ashita No Joe offers an incredible story that hones in on Joe’s struggle to change and trust his mentor. Joe shows a wonderful fighting spirit in the ring. However, he’ll encounter numerous mental and physical hurdles he’ll need to overcome. The story does a remarkable job of building upon his relationship with his coach and other people he meets.



Kuroko’s Basketball

Kuroko’s Basketball offers a mix of supernatural and realism with its approach. While its characters will utilize and form various basketball-themed strategies, the show features a slither of shōnen elements to spice things up.

Essentially, some team captains in this show have a signature ability they utilize in the show. For instance, there are antagonists in this show who can copy other players’ movements and another who can shoot successful three-pointers without fail.

The antagonists continue to rise in strength and challenge, giving viewers something to look forward to in each episode. That said, the story does a fine job of developing our protagonists’ compassion toward others alongside their own potential as basketball experts. Despite its shōnen genes, Kuroko’s Basketball is an endless thrill ride that will leave you craving more.

Slam Dunk

Opposite of Kuroko’s Basketball is Slam Dunk. Instead of shōnen power-ups, this show goes full throttle on its realism. This show provides an authentic basketball experience and dives deeper into the lives of its characters inside and outside the basketball court.

Our tale follows Hanamichi, a hot-headed boy who enrolls in Shohoku High in hopes of finding a girlfriend. His poor reputation leads to many shunning him until he meets a girl named Haruko. She approaches him without any knowledge of his past and asks him if he adores basketball.

Despite disliking the sport, Hanamichi yields. Haruko takes him to the gym and asks him to perform a slam dunk. Hanamichi attempts to perform said action but fails miserably. Mesmerized by his physicality, Haruko informs the basketball team’s captain about Hanamichi’s abilities, leading him to jump into the sport he once resented.

The show can fall victim to elongated basketball games and bad animation. There will be games that last longer than three episodes which many fans may find bothersome or strange. However, Slam Dunk gets up and starts soaring whenever it focuses on our characters’ lives and their relationships.


Chihayafuru blends competitiveness, charm, and mischief well with its focus on Karuta competition. For those unaware, Karuta is a Japanese playing card game that features a reciter and two players. The reciter’s job is to randomly select and read a Yomi-fuda (poetic reading card) to its competitors. The competitors must beat their opponent by finding the correct matching Tori-fuda (playing card) on the floor in front of them.

It’s a fun activity many people of all ages participate in with their friends or loved ones. That said, Chihayafuru’s cast gets so attached and competitive to the sport that it’ll make you want to delve into the competitive game. With its slew of dramatic and romantic elements that keep the show’s tense atmosphere afloat, this is a show no anime fan wants should write off.

Our tale revolves around Chihaya, who dreamed of seeing her elder sister Chitose become a successful model. After defending her classmate Arata from his bully Taichi, Chihaya gets introduced to the world of competitive Karuta play and becomes adored with it. This encourages Chihaya to join the Shiranami Society, in hopes of becoming the next Queen of Karuta.

With many competitors aiming for a similar title, Chihaya must overcome the odds in this tactical, poetic, and fast-paced Japanese card game.

Welcome to the Ballroom

At first glance, many would find it odd to include a ballroom-dancing anime under a sports list. However, fans shouldn’t write off the sport because of their disinterest or naivete of the sport. Ballroom dancing can be just as intense as any other support as it requires perfect synergy between the dancers and well-timed execution.

That said, Welcome to the Ballroom is a great homage to the sport. From its stellar animation to its beautiful visuals, this is one of those sports anime that can get the most unenthusiastic sports fan intrigued. This story follows Tatara, a shy boy with no future plans. He meets a man named Kaname, who rescues him from a bullying incident.

Kaname leads Tatara to his dance studio and has his dance with his classmate named Shizuku. While Tatara isn’t interested in the sport, he develops an appreciation for the craft. What drives him toward the sport is the idea of being placed in the limelight in front of many watchful eyes. Therefore, the anime focuses on Tatara’s journey to becoming a great competitor in the dancing world.

While the character designs in this show appear uncanny, fans will adore seeing our characters move graciously on screen. The characters form a friendly rivalry with each other that helps elevate the show’s calm atmosphere. There are some moments where the movements of our characters aren’t as magnificent and appear stiff. But if you can overlook those occurrences, you’re in for a blast with Welcome to the Ballroom.

Ping Pong The Animation

Competitive ping pong play can be interesting to watch. Seeing people swat at the ball with their paddles in fast-paced motion might make anyone’s heart pump. Imagine taking that sport but inserting a story with great writing and depth. You’ll end up with something like Ping Pong The Animation.

This is a strange-looking anime about two friends named Peco and Smile. These two are well-gifted ping pong players with differing backgrounds. The former is a slacker while the latter remain cautious toward the sport. Despite their clashing ideologies, these two maintain a tight friendship.

Unfortunately, Peco gets humiliated by an upcoming player and loses his passion. As for Smile, he can’t seem to fathom any determination after his coach eggs him to take things more seriously. Peco and Smile struggle to find the meaning of ping pong when they compete in an inter-high tournament where only the best can prevail.

This is an anime that pushes our protagonists to their absolute limits. It’s a moving story that’ll push our characters’ drive and help them retain their passion for a sport they held dear to their chests. While the realistic art style may appear uncanny to some viewers, if you give it a chance, it will impress you. From the competition’s intensity to its focus on character development, Ping Pong The Animation is a delectable treat.

Diamond No Ace

Baseball is a sport many people have played at least once in their life. From the satisfying feeling of hitting a home run or striking out an opponent with a curve ball, this sport has much to be desired. Diamond No Ace is an anime that delivers the same awe-inspiring feeling one obtains after playing this sport.

It offers incredible characters and an engrossing narrative that gets better as it continues. Visually, this series offers incredible visuals and scenery. The animation is graciously handled and will bring some fans back to the time when they played the sport with their loved ones or friends.

Competition is never dull in this baseball-centric universe. Every character strives to improve upon their craft and forms excellent relationships during their journey. This series also gives viewers a general perspective of how the sport is viewed in Japan. With the addition of suspenseful games and focus on the character’s drive to become the best pitcher for his team, Diamond No Ace is a worthy sports anime to watch.

Eyeshield 21

From one iconic sport to another, we arrive at Eyeshield 21’s American football-loving universe. This anime doesn’t offer the most complex plot as it likes to keep things simple and fun for viewers. This is like Kuroko’s Basketball equivalent to American football as this show is riddled with many shonen tropes.

Our tale centers around Sena, a boy bullied for his meek appearance and shy personality. Despite his petite build, Sena is an incredibly agile person who can dodge his way past many people. After the captain of his American-football high school team Hiruma notices his skills, he persuades him to join the team.

To avoid people from finding out about Sena’s recruitment, Hirume forces him to his face under a visored helmet and grants him the alias Eyeshield 21, who can run at the speed of light. Therefore, this anime focuses on Sena’s internal and external improvement as he helps his high school sports team claim victory.

This series features a great mix of hilarity, drama, and emotional scenarios. Fans will adore seeing Sena improve his skills inside and outside the court. This anime spends enough time showing Sena becoming more interactive with his friends and loved ones. The American football games are equally enjoyable and add a layer of intensity fans would expect from the sport.

If you’re searching for a fun American football anime with likable characters, Eyeshield 21’s worth checking out.

So, there we have it, our picks for the best sports anime throughout the years!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!

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