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Sports Anime: Some Observations

I've been into this genre since around 2 years ago, when I decided to watch a renowned anime series of my favourite sport (basketball): Kuroko No Basuke! The Kurobasu characters caught my attention and the plot was riveting enough for me to want to follow it all the way through till the end. And of course, the basketball plays. Which are slightly unrealistic at times but most of it can be pulled off in reality.

Kuroko doing a feint which I find... not so possible to pull off in real life during an actual match
At that time my descend downwards status as a sports anime fan has not been quite established since I only viewed two such series, that is until I was convinced to watch Haikyuu!! and consequently, I became interested in the genre, thus starting to watch more of similar series.

I have also watched Free! (swimming), Haikyuu!! (volleyball), Yowamushi Pedal (cycling), Ace of Diamond (Baseball) and liked all of them. I also got interested in Days (soccer), and am planning to watch stuff like All Out!! (rugby), Hajime No Ippo (boxing) and was recommended Eyeshield 21 as well. (Prince of Tennis is quite famous as well, but I have been hum-ing and haa-ing on whether I should ever watch it, the art's not really my thing... But I did think like that for Yowamushi Pedal at first though.)

Well, at this point in time I've watched and followed up on at least 5 sports anime, so I can safely say that I'm pretty much taken in by the Japanese sports animanga series, though I don't think I have watched enough to say I'm well-versed in it. Though along the way, I can't help but notice some things most sports series have in common, however.

One of the reasons why sports anime are so popular is because of the main character's drive to move the story forward.

1. The main character has to be the most, if not, one of the most popular characters in the series. For this point however I don't think it's restricted to just this genre. Though many a times I have lurked around online sports anime fandoms and found a vast number of people liking a wide range of characters, and sometimes the number of people paying homage to the MC cannot be compared to that of other characters, but official polls published in weekly/monthly manga indicates that the MC's popularity often sits in the top 5.

(Kuroko is ranked 2nd here)

(Sawamura is ranked 2nd here)

(Hinata is ranked first here!)

2. There was at least one point in time the MC was told that they cannot be better than they currently are, or that they themselves think they are hopeless. Personally I like it when the MC chooses to ignore naysayers and work really hard towards their goal and eventually becomes an athlete much bigger than anyone has anticipated; it's quite motivating.

3. They often have a partner of taller stature and works together with them to be better at the sport. Sometimes they are even a little corny with their speeches to each other. All for the sake of team chemistry and upping in confidence level, I guess!

4. They want to be the very best, like no one ever was, to be the ace is their real test

To train themselves hard is their cause

Main character cliches aside, many fans do love characters from rival teams as well:

1. There has got to be at least one lady killer on the opposing team. Oh and also a genius of the sport. Even in the anime world, looks aren't everything!

Kise and his fangirls

Toudou thinks that his teammate Manami may be a threat to his popularity

Bonus: insert people who don't like the ikemen

2. At least one person from the main team knows someone from the opposing team not via matches against each other.

 Tsukushi met Narukami while in the toilet (LOL)

Onoda met Manami when the former fainted in the mountains.

3. Someone from one of the opposing teams is very, very dangerous hard to deal with when it comes to competing against them

But of course the main team will have a way around it, often with a wild card that comes in the form of their first year (the MC)

Epic pitch by Sawamura that struck the batter out

In addition, there are also other things which may have been done in multiple series, but remains riveting for many, nevertheless:

1. A character revered as a genius in a show suddenly stumbles due to circumstances i.e. the other team has a team member that was able to defeat them. Bonus: whole team is thrown in disarray

Akashi started fumbling after getting outsmarted

2. Main team has to lose/stumble once before they are able to make a comeback and defeat everyone in their path. The ultimate aim is almost always to be the champion of the nationals!

After Karasuno's loss to Seijoh

3. Characters treating competitions and bettering themselves as a death match. Alright, it may be a little exaggerated considering not a lot of people think like that in real life, but the anguish that comes with not being able to perform up to expectations is very real (I have been there to see my teammates actually shed tears after a loss... it was painful, especially as a benchwarmer where I couldn't do much to help the team during the match except cheer on them.)

4. Which brings me to the point about the other members who may not participate with the team during competition, but are seen as equally important as they do help with boosting the morale of everyone.

Seidou's manager cheering them on!

Seiseki's manager beating some sense into Tsukushi

In addition, through interacting with other sports anime fans, I've also come to realise people don't just like sports anime just for how good the characters are at the sport, but also the dynamics and how easily the characters can grab their attention with their varying personalities. For me, I also like how plots and settings are developed throughout the series, those may serve as a reference for me on how I can develop my own stories.

Are you a sports anime fan as well? Feel free to share your thoughts and things you like about your favourite series!

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