Sports Anime

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Name(s): Sports Anime
Scope/Focus: Free!, Haikyuu, Yuri on Ice, Kuroko no Basuke, Prince of Tennis, Yowamushi Pedal, Daiya no Ace, Hikaru no Go, Chihayafuru, Ping Pong the Animation, Ookiku Furikabutte, Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru
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Sports Anime is an umbrella fandom linking together anime and manga fandoms, usually regarding team sports, such as Free!, Haikyuu, Kuroko no Basuke, and Yowamushi Pedal, which, although they do not share characters, have in common a focus on teamwork, friendship, achievement, and passion. Although anime and manga featuring sports has been around since at least the 1980s, the genre is currently undergoing somewhat of a renaissance, with many new series coming out in a short span of time and social media allowing fans to share and hype up their fandoms to potential newcomers.

Sports anime are mostly shounen and often have a high school setting. The majority are focused on male characters, with casts often being overwhelmingly one gender due to the nature of team sports; this leads to yaoi shipping.

Individual series vary on the level of realism they portray - some feature characters with fantastical superpowers related to their sport, while others are a fairly grounded look at normal high school athletes.

This article or section needs expansion.

Common Tropes

  • Many sports anime focus on an underdog team: either one that is just starting out, or one that was successful in the past and now needs to regain victory
  • Usually the first episode or several episodes will feature some explanation of the basics of the sport and scoring; this is often done in-universe through an audience surrogate character who is new to the sport
  • Sports anime are known for being thrilling, perhaps melodramatic, considering the generally mundane setting, but engaging due to well-developed characters and motivations.
  • sports anime bingo

Character Tropes

  • The "black-haired three-part bangs sports prodigy who's bad at school" is a recurring character type in shonen sports series, particularly recent ones. Fans of multiple sports anime series tend to notice this.

Relationship Tropes


Different fandoms in sports anime may be identified simply by the type of sport and "anime." For example, Free! is "swimming anime," and Haikyuu is "volleyball anime" (literal translation).

Crossovers are common, as the stories generally take place in modern Japan. In crossover fanworks, characters may meet when they travel for their sports. In fanfiction, characters' sports and background are usually not changed. Sometimes characters who look similar in different series, like Kageyama Tobio from Haikyuu and Kurahara Kakeru from Run with the Wind, are headcanoned to be somehow related. Characters who have the same surname, like Sawamura Daichi from Haikyuu and Sawamura Eijun from Daiya no Ace are also sometimes headcanoned to be related (although in this example they're spelled with different kanji).

A common trend is fan art comparing corresponding character types in different sports anime. These comparisons often involve swapping outfits or sports to highlight their similar attitudes. If two characters from different shows are voiced by the same seiyuu, artists will sometimes draw those characters interacting or swapping clothes and sports.


See Timeline of Sports Anime Fandom

Events and Challenges

Example Fanworks


Meta/Further Reading

Other Fannish Resources