Top 10 Sports Anime to Watch in 2024

Just like how sports movies have won over audiences, sports anime has climbed up the ladder from TV shows or comic-inspired series to become cultural sensations. And when you check out the most beloved and popular sports anime ever, it’s easy to see why they’ve become such big deals.

The best sports anime series brings us captivating character backgrounds, challenges, and victories. They also tackle important themes like friendship, loss, family, and dedication. And to top it off, these top sports anime have garnered enough acclaim and fan love to not just be the best in their genre but to also be counted among the all-time best anime ever. Let’s get into it!

1. Slam Dunk

sports anime - slam dunk

Back in 1990, manga artist Takehiko Inoue dropped a bombshell on the anime world with what would soon become the ultimate sports manga and anime combo. Toei Animation picked it up in 1993, and even today, the latest film, The First Slam Dunk, is still smashing it at the box office. Thanks to Slam Dunk, basketball’s popularity in Japan skyrocketed, making it a powerhouse in sports manga and anime.

Now, picture this: Hanamichi Sakuragi, a tough guy gang leader, decides to win a girl’s heart by taking up basketball. His journey from zero to hero, leading his team to championship glory is just remarkable. If you call yourself an anime fan and haven’t watched Slam Dunk yet, you’re missing out big time! It’s hands down the greatest sports anime ever created, and that’s a fact!

And let’s not forget about, Inoue’s other gem, focusing on basketball players in wheelchairs.

2. Hajime no Ippo – Classic Boxing Anime

sports anime - hajime no ippo

If you loved watching Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky”, this anime is for you. George Morikawa created Hajime no Ippo as a manga in 1989. It’s often compared to Rocky for its underdog hero, Ippo Makunouchi. Ippo enters the boxing world after a pro boxer intervenes in one of his bullying situations. As he learns boxing, the story’s heart lies in rivalries, character dynamics, and Ippo’s personal growth.

Just like Rocky or The Karate Kid, Hajime no Ippo: Rising features an underdog hero in a combat sport, discovering more about himself and others as he becomes stronger. Fans of those movies should definitely give Hajime no Ippo a shot, as it has a lasting appeal with audiences.

3. Haikyu!! 

Haikyuu sports anime

Haikyu!! stands out as one of the most well-known sports manga and anime in recent times, and it’s easy to see why. Produced by Production I.G, this series follows Shoyo Hinata, whose determination and team-building skills shine throughout the story, despite its relatively young age compared to other popular sports anime.

Volleyball might not be the most spotlighted sport in anime, but Haikyu!! dives deep into it, resulting in thrilling matches and showcasing Production I.G’s expertise in animating high-intensity sports action. The series has earned numerous awards and, although it has ended, it’s a must-watch for anyone interested in sports anime. Hinata’s perseverance, struggles, and the strong bonds that lead to success make Haikyu!! It is a must-watch sports anime.

4. Blue Lock

Blue Lock sports anime

Now, we’ve all heard of Project Blue Lock, after Japan qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The internet went wild and Blue Lock was trending. “Blue Lock” follows Yoichi Isagi, a high school soccer player refining his playing style. After Japan’s 16th-place finish in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Japan Football Association enlists Ego Jinpachi to develop the ultimate striker via the intense Blue Lock training program. Isagi seizes the opportunity to become the best striker globally, navigating through allies and rivals in the process.

What’s cool about “Blue Lock” is that it’s not just for die-hard sports fans. It has this whole dystopian vibe where they’re training players to be super specialized. Even if you’re not big on sports, the art style and the characters’ stories are definitely worth checking out in this series.

5. Initial D – Racing Anime

Initial D sports anime

Every good Hollywood movie has an anime counterpart. Initial D is a perfect match for fans of the Fast and Furious series, especially the earlier street racing days. It revolves around Japanese street racing, similar to what Tokyo Drift showcased before the Fast and Furious franchise shifted towards secret agent super heroics. Starting as a manga in 1995 by Shuichi Shigeno, the series expanded into multiple anime arcs known as “Stages.”

While many people discovered Initial D through its viral popularity as meme material online, the story of Takumi Fujiwara’s quest to earn respect as a racer is unbeatable in its genre. With thrilling driving scenes and an energetic soundtrack, Initial D is a captivating and often overlooked anime that stays true to its racing roots throughout.

6. The Prince of Tennis

sports anime - The prince of tennis

While opinions about The Prince of Tennis may vary, it’s a fantastic sports anime for newcomers. It started as a manga from 1999 to 2008 and follows Ryoma Echizen, a young tennis prodigy who rises to become a top-notch tennis ace while also striving for his school’s team to win championships.

The quality, visuals, and art play a vital role in an anime’s success, and The Prince of Tennis is known for its impressive animation style. The storyline is simple, focusing on tennis and team championships, though the character development might not be as detailed as we have it in other sports anime.

Despite these points, The Prince of Tennis remains one of the best-selling manga and most popular sports anime of all time. While longtime fans might find it less nuanced, it serves as an excellent introduction to sports anime for new viewers.

7. Major

major - sports anime

Major, created by Takuya Mitsuda, may not have the same widespread recognition as some other modern sports anime, but it definitely deserves recognition among the best. The manga debuted in 1994 and ran until 2010, followed by an anime adaptation in 2004. It’s a baseball anime that follows Goro Honda’s journey as he aims to become a professional pitcher like his father. What sets Major apart is its extensive storytelling, tracing Goro’s development from his early days in the sport to reaching the major leagues.

Unlike stories focused on just one championship or season, Major delves deep into Goro’s growth, making it appealing to sports anime fans. It also boasts a fan base that includes MLB star Shohei Ohtani, who has openly expressed his love for the series in interviews. This shows that Major isn’t just a captivating story but also an inspirational one for aspiring athletes of all ages.

8. Ace of Diamond 

Ace of diamond

Ace of Diamond began as a manga from 2006 to 2015 and then became an anime by Madhouse and Production I.G., starting in 2013. It has since inspired multiple sequels and manga adaptations. The main character, Eijun Sawamura, dreams of becoming a star pitcher, known as an ‘ace,’ in baseball. The series focuses on the competition among teammates to become the ace and the challenges of a baseball season.

Ace of Diamond stands out by centering on the pitcher, a crucial role in baseball. This unique approach adds depth to the story, making it more than just a typical baseball anime. With a cast of characters filled with ambition and exciting baseball action, Ace of Diamond is a must-watch for baseball fans and anime enthusiasts as well.

9. Aim For The Ace!

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Going really old school we have”Aim for the Ace!” chronicles the journey of Hiromi Oka, a high school student determined to enhance her tennis skills after being inspired by her classmate, Reika Ryuzaki. With the support of her coach, friends, and a positive attitude, Hiromi climbs the ranks to become one of the world’s top tennis players.

The manga “Aim for the Ace!” is one of the best-selling shojo manga ever. However, its anime adaptation faced challenges initially. The first series in 1973, spanning 26 episodes, received mixed reviews initially. Yet, subsequent reruns garnered high ratings, leading to a second adaptation in 1978. Despite its rocky start, “Aim for the Ace!” has maintained its popularity for over 50 years. It still continues to feature in “Top 100s” lists consistently.

10. Tsurune: Kazemai High School Kyudo Club


This anime is just pure beauty. “Tsurune” from 2018 is a bit of an underrated gem in the sports anime realm. It centers around archery, following Kazemai High School’s club as they navigate personal challenges. while aiming for a spot in the nationals. Season 1 laid the groundwork for a sequel but also wrapped up nicely with the protagonist’s growth, making season 2 a welcome addition but not entirely necessary.

However, all that changed with “Tsurune – The Linking Shot -” in Winter 2023. This sequel knocked it out of the park, thanks to Kyoto Animation’s stellar visuals across both seasons. What really stood out was how “Tsurune” dived into the characters’ minds, showcasing their impact on both themselves and the team as a whole.

What’s your favourite sports anime? Let us know in the comments below. Click here for more anime and manga content.

Where can I watch anime for free?

You can watch anime for free on Crunchyroll.

Is Slam Dunk the best sports anime?

A lot of fans think Slam Dunk is hands down the greatest sports anime ever. It basically set the whole genre in motion when it first came out in 1993.

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