Hi there. I am Ryukoko and today I’m going to write about anime again!!ヽ(・∀・)ノ I am so excited to write this article for MANGA.TOKYO, because this list of the best sports anime of 2016 contains so many amazing series.
2016 is coming to an end and, as usual, I have watched many anime this year. I’ve noticed that anime fans were talking a lot about sports anime this year. I don’t blame them, since 2016 had a few series with sports that had never been featured before, and one fictional sport that had anime critiques clanging their journalistic swords because of its fan-servicy nature. Also, let’s not forget that the 2020 Olympic Games are going to take place in Japan!
This is a list of all the sports anime that we saw in 2016 in order of broadcasting date. Here we go! (“⌒∇⌒”)
■ Prince of Stride: Alternative (Winter 2016 – Madhouse)
Sport: Parkour and Free Running
Stride is a fictional sport that involves 6 players in a team who run through downtown streets, just like parkour.
The story takes place at a formerly strong school club, which is facing disbandment. The heroine, who passionately loves free running, is reunited with the two boys to whom she vowed to become the top of the stride world. The club had to start recruiting athletes since they didn’t have enough players to form a team. While each player struggles with their own personal problems, the team gradually develops into a competitive team that is equal to the leading teams.
Players of stride run relay races in downtown streets and instead of passing batons, they high-five. I really like the moment when they high-five while running at their top speed. The tension was so high that I couldn’t even blink in that split second. The sound of the clap elevates the sense of speed in the anime.
I wish I could watch a real race of this fictional sport one day, but until then, I will just have to re-watch the series.
■ DAYS (Summer 2016, Fall 2016 – MAPPA)
Sport: Football (soccer)
Tsukushi Tsukamoto was a plain boy without any talent. The story starts when he was dragged into the soccer club as soon as he started high school. Although he’s not particularly good at soccer, he becomes so passionate about the sports that it’s his passion that unites the rather nihilistic members of the club.
Tsukasa reminds us of the pure passion someone can feel towards a sport, a passion that comes out of love for it and that is often forgotten when we care too much about winning or losing. At the start, I had doubts about Tsukushi, as he looked soft and indecisive. However, he has grown on me as a hero who has a great personality. I was yelling ‘COME ON TSUKUSHI! You are the hero and the team needs you!’
If you want to regain the passion you have inside, this is the anime you should watch.
DAYS is part of MANGA.TOKYO’s episodic reviews!
■ Battery (Summer 2016 – Zero G)
Based on the best-selling novel by Atsuko Asano which sold 10 million copies, Battery was adapted into an anime to commemorate the novel’s 20th anniversary.
The story’s about the relationship between a talented pitcher and a catcher who is attracted by the pitcher’s talent. The pitcher was isolated by the members of his middle school baseball club, because of his arrogant attitude. The pitcher and the catcher are just two adolescent boys who embark on a journey to the harsh reality that exists among adults and among team members as they struggle with their own feelings and pride.
The anime depicts their transition from childhood to adulthood. It tells us how we can advance as personalities and as human beings by dedicating ourselves to something (in this anime, a sport). It shows how we can change ourselves just by meeting someone.
You’ll enjoy this story more if you read the novel!
■ Cheer Boys!! (Summer 2016 – Brain`s Base)
Sport: Cheerleading – Gymnastics
Based on a novel written by Ryo Asai, Cheer Boys!! reminds me of Water Boys, the movie and TV drama about a boys’ synchronized swimming team that was popular in Japan in the 2000s. Cheer Boys!! is about male cheerleaders!
Cheerleading is the only sport (if you consider it a sport) where you can become the hero by cheering for others. Two university students jump into the female-dominated world of cheerleading and start their own team, Breakers. The member often collide with each other, as each one of them has his own pride and way of thinking. It’s both serious and quite funny at the same time. You will be laughing and crying and feel completely submerged in their world.
The anime has so many unique and unforgettable characters that you will not regret watching it.
■ All Out!! (Fall 2016 – Madhouse)
This is the first anime featuring the sport of rugby. The story’s about a small but gutsy rugby novice and a tall but timid rugby expert, and how they develop physically and mentally. The story is worth watching and the action is very fast. You can feel the heat from the anime, even though it’s on air during this cold season. It’s not only fierce and intense, but also inspiring, and the only anime that can bring the realistic sensation and impact of a rugby match. Please check it out☆
■ Tiger Mask W (Fall 2016 – Toei Animation)
Sport: Pro Wrestling
This story of a pro wrestler was inspired by the real wrestler called Tiger Mask, and an anime adaptation of the titular manga was first aired in 1969! This is a modern revival of Tiger Mask after 47 years. In this contemporary version, two wrestlers make an appearance: Tiger Mask and Tiger the Dark. The anime collaborates with the New Japan Pro-Wrestling Organization and, interestingly enough, the wrestlers appear with their real ring names. This anime is entertaining for both the older generation who watched the first anime and those who had no interest in pro wrestling before. I have to confess that I, a twenty-something female, am totally into it!
■ Yuri!!! On Ice (Fall 2016 – MAPPA)
Sport: Figure Skating
（C）はせつ町民会／ユーリ!!! on ICE 製作委員会
This is the first anime ever that features figure skating!
The story’s about a Japanese and a Russian skater, both named Yuri. After a miserable defeat, Japan’s Yuri was contemplating retirement, while Russia’s Yuri was fiercely competing in Russia. The two Yuris draw the attention of a talented star skater and, under his coaching, they flourish.
The two skaters only share a name; their environments and lives are totally different. It’s interesting to watch how the two will rise both as skaters and as people. The anime is praised for its realistic animation, sports-casting, and depiction of the sport. Many real skaters have started watching the anime and became fans of the animation!
The anime is so popular that it has spawned countless spin-off products, a themed cafe, and a new collection of LINE stickers.
■ Keijo!!!!!!!! (Fall 2016 – Xebec)
Sport: Ahm…. Keijo….
©Daichi SORAYOMI, Shogakukan/Keijo Project
People were talking about this anime long before its broadcast. Which is completely understandable, given the nature of the series.
It’s a unique and original sports anime, in which beautiful girls in swimming suits compete against each other on a platform that floats in a pool. They can fight only with their bottoms and bosoms! That’s boobs and behinds, for those of you who don’t like the fancy words. It sounds like a typical cheeky and fan-servicy anime, but actually their fights are so exciting and gripping to watch that fan-service is set aside by the action. Also, their costumes are so cute!
If you are after an unusual anime, watch this exhilarating show. (ゝω・´★)
■ Haikyuu! Karasuno High vs Shiratorizawa Academy (Fall 2016 – Production I.G.)
A new series of the very popular high school boys’ volleyball anime series. I suppose many of you have already watched the previous seasons. It was actually my first time watching it. The scenes of volleyball matches are meticulously depicted, so I felt as if I were watching a real match. The team will face many competitive opponents and I can’t wait to watch how they play, as well as how they are visually depicted. (^^)
Haikyuu is part of MANGA.TOKYO’s episodic reviews for Fall 2016!
■ Scorching Ping Pong Girl (Fall 2016 – Kinema Citrus)
Sport: Ping Pong
Ping pong (table tennis) is not a popular subject in sports anime, but that is about to change because Syakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume, more commonly known as Scorching Ping Pong Girl, has really good ratings and a very cute girl as the heroine.
The ping pong queen has abandoned her throne in the middle school of the series, and that triggers a heated battle among her successors.
Although ping pong is usually played individually, the drama of them competing against each other is worth watching. The uplifting scenes of their enthusiastic matches are so tense that I could feel the pressure!
If you haven’t seen this anime, you should give it a go. (“⌒∇⌒”)
The Best of the Best (of Sports Anime)
Now, that wraps up my feature article of the very best in sports anime in 2016. Have you found your favourite? Maybe you are thinking things like:
- ‘Yes, I’ve watched this and loved it!’
- ‘I haven’t watched that but I will!’
- ‘I didn’t know much about sports anime, but it sounds interesting.’
If I made you say something that resembles the above, my mission was a success. I myself hadn’t watch many sports anime before. However, there were so many good titles this year that I ended up watching a lot.
The Winter 2017 season will soon start and I’m so excited to see what sort of anime are waiting for me to watch. q(^-^q) I’ll continue writing about anime for MANGA.TOKYO, so please look forward to my articles! Thank you very much for reading till the end. Please have a lovely festive season and a Happy New Year!
Let’s meet again soon! (⌒0⌒)／~~good-bye