Sometimes the best way to feel motivated to get on your feet and make healthy lifestyle changes is to be inspired by other people. While some look up to real-world sports stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, there are very inspirational figures that can be found in some of the best sports anime!
These sports anime tell the stories of young adults working hard to transform their bodies and abilities into the best they can be, while also dealing with relatable turmoils like love, school, and family life. It’s not weird to be motivated by the cheeky, funny, cool, or lovable characters in these recommended sports anime. Aspiring gym junkies and sports players will love these exciting, competitive shows.
Updated on July 24, 2022, by Ritwik Mitra: Sports anime has carved a fairly popular niche of its own, with shows like Haikyuu still making waves even now. The structure of sports anime makes it perfect for tales geared towards shonen fans, with a slew of over-the-top abilities and moves added to the mix to keep things interesting over their long and extensive run. Here are some of the best sports anime that will motivate viewers to ramp up their own physical activity as well.
10/10 Hungry Heart: Wild Striker
Hungry Heart is a pretty underrated soccer anime that more people should get into. It tells the tale of Kano Kyosuke, an aspiring striker who regains his motivations after meeting his romantic interest.
The anime has some pretty great moments and does a good job of developing Kano’s character. It helps that the supporting cast is strong as well, with the ending feeling like an emotional gut punch after the time that viewers have spent with the team.
9/10 Prince Of Tennis
Prince of Tennis is a legendary anime that many people have heard of. The story follows Ryoma Echizen, a tennis prodigy who quickly becomes a regular at the sport and slowly learns what tennis really means to him.
This show is an easy recommendation for sports anime fans. It might be a long series, but each and every one of its episodes is worth it for the sheer spectacle of how Ryoma and his friends excel at the sport while dealing with a few tough spots of their own.
8/10 Hajime no Ippo
Speaking of classic sports anime, it would be impossible not to mention Hajime no Ippo. This legendary boxing anime has seen several adaptations, with the latest one being an absolute spectacle that has been brilliantly animated.
Getting into Hajime no Ippo it might take a bit of effort, but the end result is definitely worth it. Watching Ippo rise against the odds and beat opponents that are pounding his head in is a blast no matter how many times it happens!
7/10 Gymnastics Samurai
This great sports anime set in 2002 follows the story of pro-gymnast Jotaro Aragaki, a former Olympian who could never quite get the gold medal. Now at 29 years old, Jotaro is ready to formally retire, as he feels he will never be able to improve again. After speaking with his coach, spending time with his daughter, and meeting a curious self-proclaimed “ninja” named Leo, Jotaro decides to continue being a gymnast for a little longer, pushing off his retirement.
This show highlights the perseverance that professional athletes need to achieve great things, along with the importance of trusting and motivating those around you. The characters are relatable, the music truly adds to the powerful events, and the animation is delightful to watch. This sports anime is only one season long as of 2020, with a possible season 2 coming in the future.
6/10 How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?
This goofy over-the-top comedy anime lacks the same passion, beauty, and depth that others on this list have, but it focuses on one thing and one thing only: weight lifting at the gym. It follows a very lazy and food-loving high school girl named Hibiki hoping to improve her health by joining a gym.
She agrees to join a shiny new gym alongside her classmate, Akemi, after feeling comfortable around her and the cute gym worker. However, she quickly realizes that the two are muscle-obsessed gym junkies who are about to take her on a wild ride in the world of weight lifting. The show features mostly female characters looking to beef up and get stronger and is filled with comical nonsense. It’s super corny, very outlandish, and totally out of the ordinary, but it does teach viewers real tips about physical therapy, personal training, and body anatomy.
5/10 Sk8: The Infinity
When Canadian native Langa moves to sunny Okinawa, he becomes good friends with Reki, a mischievous high schooler obsessed with skateboarding who skates in underground competitions called “S”. After finding out that Langa is an experienced snowboarder, Reki teaches him how to skateboard. Adventures in the hidden skating world begin, with the two boys pushing themselves to the limit to surpass the skills of the mysterious skating legend Adam.
Besides being so touched and inspired by the strong relationships the characters build over their time skating together, they all work incredibly hard to improve their skateboarding skills. This fantastic sports anime teaches viewers the importance of loving your craft while you’re doing it, rather than only focusing on being the best. It’s fun, passionate, exciting, and motivating!
Although the main protagonists in this swimming anime have a long history of being great swimmers, they have a lot of work to do if they want to be district champs. Haru, Makoto, Nagisa, and Rei spend their year transforming their pool, pushing themselves beyond their capacities, putting in the hours, and training both in the pool and out. A great deal of the anime covers their impressive training, rather than focusing on the competitions. They teach each other vital skills, rely on their team manager for meal plans and training routines, and even endure a weekend outing where the four swim across the ocean to improve their endurance.
This anime is very relatable to students across the globe who wish to improve their skills enough to stand out to university recruiters and make it to college and professional teams. Swimmers and sportsmen everywhere can learn about the importance of practicing and staying inspired from Free!
This fighting anime will take you on an adventure into an alternate, sci-fi reality where boxing is now megalo boxing. This dangerous sport requires the boxers to be enhanced with a metal exoskeleton called Gears, engineered to cause more damage to the opponent. The main character, nicknamed Junk Dog, is a poor, lower-class citizen fighting in underground, illegal matches until his life is turned upside down after being challenged to fight in the exclusive Megalonia ring. Junk Dog must fight his way up the ranks to become the best fighter and win his way into Megalonia.
This gritty anime is much different from many other popular sports anime, as it features a dark world of poverty, violence, drug addiction, and death. The nameless main character has to endure a lot of pain and push himself to achieve his goals.
2/10 Farewell, My Dear Cramer
This new 2021 sports anime follows a poor-performing woman’s soccer team hoping to improve enough to win against their nationally-ranked opponents. The girls on the team must transform the way their school’s team works, eager to boost their skills and abilities.
The main characters have a variety of practice and play styles that they must optimize in order to work together cohesively as a proper team. Besides just getting along on the field, they also have to navigate their relationships after practice. It’s a sweet anime filled with enticing female characters, beautiful animation, and heart-racing competitions.
This incredibly popular volleyball anime never fails to be inspirational, with the most cheeky and fun-loving main cast working hard to become a winning team. Shoyo Hinata, a young athlete who makes up for his lack of height with his impressive vertical jumping, ends up on the same high school team as his big rival, Kageyama.
Rather than joining a successful team ready to launch them to fame, the two are stuck in a has-been volleyball team that needs a lot of help getting back to its former glory. The main moral of this anime is the importance of working together, having trust, and becoming supportive friends with your teammates.
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