With the Winter Olympics 2018 quickly approaching, the world will be waiting with baited breath to see records broken and history made. The Olympics are a time of superhuman feats and things that seem to defy reality.
Or in the case of anime, “reality.” Sometimes sports anime can be rather liberal with its characters’ abilities.
Unfortunately, several notable sports anime like Hajime no Ippo, Yowamushi Pedal, Slam Dunk, and Diamond no Ace will not appear on this list. I watch sports anime sparingly and can’t fairly judge how extra these particular anime are from a “Best Of” montage.
With that being said, let’s look at some of my favorite extra sports anime.
- Eyeshield 21
What can I say, I’m a sucker for the underdog trope. The main team, the Deimon Devil Bats, are colorful and serve as great foils to its protagonist, Sena Kobayakawa. The way Sena developed his ability and is able to see a path through the blockers and run as fast as a pro-football player was my first introduction into how extra sports anime can get.
From there, we get team captain Yoichi Hiruma breaking every single one of Japan’s firearms and pyrotechnics laws nearly every episode, linebacker Seijuro Shin killing a wild boar using, and lineman Ryokan Kurita shouting his catchphrase every time he tackles someone.
While this show hasn’t aged particularly well, and is one of the sillier sports anime to exist, it is a great way to get a fun taste of the sheer level of ridiculousness sports anime can reach.
- Kuroko no Basket
Maybe it’s possible for someone to do the 40-yard dash in 4.2 seconds or throw the ball in 0.2 seconds as in Eyeshield 21, but it is absolutely impossible in real life to have such a low presence in life that you vanish from a basketball court when there are only five opponents on the court.
Welcome to Kuroko no Basket in which sports anime logic reigns supreme, and it is possible to vanish (sort of) from a court, shoot lightning from your eyeballs, and be so good at basketball that other players collapse.
When I say this show is extra, I mean it. From episode one to 75, the show is fun and refrains from falling into the trap many other sports anime does in which each game is a repeat of the previous one. Everyone, not just the main cast, grow as characters and players throughout the series. The characters really stand out from one another; it helps that the main characters are literally color-coded down to their names.
- Prince of Tennis
This anime reigns champion as my favorite sports anime of all time and one of my biggest obsessions as a kid. I own all 42 volumes of the manga, and if it existed, I would buy all the seasons of the anime.
Prince of Tennis drew me into the sports anime world and has captivated me ever since. This anime, to me, is the extra of the extra. Its characters, who are all middle-schoolers, look like they’re in their 20s, and some have the deep voices to match. These characters’ abilities defy logic and reality from the get go and continue to become even worse (better?) as the series progresses. The lengths to which these characters will go to win a middle school tennis tournament risks permanent physical damage and is sometimes downright life-threatening.
Prince of Tennis is one of the longest sports anime in existence with 178 episodes in the main series, 34 OVAs (original video animation), 30 OVAs in the sequel of Prince of Tennis, New Prince of Tennis, two anime movie spin-offs, one live-action movie, and 22 live-action musicals, it’s safe to say there are no other sports anime that have done it quite like Prince of Tennis.
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for its realistic qualities, which are few and far between, it’s a great sports anime to binge that maintains a level of extra that some recent sports anime could benefit from.
One last reason why I recommend people to watch Prince of Tennis? The tennis captain kills the dinosaurs and probably scars a man for life.
So. How extra can sports anime get?