Baseball, Basketball, soccer, boxing – heck – even volleyball. They are all pretty popular throughout the world, so it is only natural that Japan might make an anime series featuring it. However, sometimes you see those really obscure sports get an entry into the sports genre of anime that makes you question the sanity. And yet, somehow it is these obscure sports that often make the best series.
Ping Pong – Ping Pong The Animation
Nicknamed Smile and Peco, Makoto Tsukimoto and Yukata Hoshino grew up playing ping pong together. Although Peco aims to be the pbest ping pong player, Smile has little ambition for the game, and yet, they are bound together by mutual love for the sport.
Both the content and the animation seems like a recipe for something much worse, but this anime is carried by its powerful emotions and coming of age themes.
Bicycling – Yowamushi Pedal
Sakamichi Onoda is your typical otaku that wants to join the anime club in order to make friends. Unfortunately, it has recently disbanded. After having poor luck trying to revive it, he decides to cheer himself up by hopping on his old bicycle and pedaling the 90 kilometer round trip to Akihabara. One his way, he passes a fellow first year student training his cycling skills on a slope outside the school. Despite not having the bike for it, he is impressed by Onoda’skills. Challenging the young otaku to a race, the event will toss Onoda into the worl of high school bicycle racing.
You might not view cycling so much as a sport as it is a hobby, but this is an anime that can change your views on it. Not only does it make cycling look interesting, but it has some great themes of overcoming challenges and never giving up.
Figure Skating – Yuri on Ice
Yuri Katsuki, once Japan’s most promising figure skater, comes home reeling from his defeat at the Grand Prix Finale to assess his options. While doing so, a video of him performing the routine of five-time world champion Victor Nikiforov goes viral and it ends up causing Victor to end up at his door step offering to be his mentor.
Yuri on Ice became one of 2016’s most popular anime. Some people don’t see the appeal of an anime with occasionally baffling frame rates or long-term sexual tension, but its adorkable protagonist and emotion helped carry it for many.
Swimming – Free!
Haruka Nanase has always had a passion for swimming. In elementary school, he and his three friends even won a relay race for it. Now in high school, Haruka seeks to reunite them, but his friend RIn not only goes to another school, but is out to prove he is better than Haruka. After the bitter reunion, Haruka is driven to create the Iwatobi High School Swim Club.
Before there was Yuri on Ice, it was all about Free. However, unlike Yuri on Ice, because Free was about swimming, it really allowed all that glorious man service to be more… Man Service-y.
Rollerblading – Air Gear
Minami Itsuki never had any interest in using Air Treck motorized roller blades until he got his ass kicked by a rollerblade-riding street gang. Later that day he discovers a locked room with a pair of ATs and a box of stickers belonging to another street gang, he then decides to form his own street foighting, rollerblading street gang.
Rollerblading and street gangs. It is ture that if you live long enough, you will indeed see everything. While the anime is, as I’m told, a farce campared to the manga, it is surprisingly fun to watch people try to look cool while on rollerblades.
Pro Wrestling – Tiger Mask
In America, Tiger Mask was a feared wrestled known for his visciousness. However, when Tiger Mask returned to Japan, he overheard a young boy saying he wants to be a villain just time him. Not wanting a boy to aspire to be a villain, Tiger Mask now reforms himself to be a hero.
Tiger Mask is a pretty long running series. The above synopsis is from the 1969 anime series, but there was also a revival as recently as 2016 that builds onto the lore and the world. As silly as pro wrestling is, the theatrics do actually transfer well to anime.
Gymnastics – Ganbarist! Shun
Shun Fujimaki has the noble dream of becoming a gold medal oylimpic gymnast, but with no previous training, he has only his passion to fuel him. Joining the gymnastics club, he finds himself surrounded by talent where he can happily devote himself to the sport.
Ganbarist Shun has all you typical trappings of not just sports anime, but pretty much any anime from the 90’s. He works hard, he fails a bit, he finds success, gets himself a love interest, has upper classmen to look up to – all that jazz. Still they took a sport people only remember at Oylimpics time and made it interesting.
Airsoft – Aoharu x Machine Gun
Hotaru Tachibana has always had a habit of confronting evildoers, so when she hears her best friend was tricked by a local host club, she disguises herself as a boy to go punish them. However, she gets distracted by the leader Masamune Matsuoka when he challenges her to a toy gun battle. Hotaru loses and now must join Masamune’s survival game team in order to pay off the huge damages to the host club.
Admittedly, this anime know very little about the actual sport of airsoft, so it creates its own fast and loose rules. Unforutnately it also plays fast and loose with its writing at times, too.
Cheerleading – Cheer Boys
After injuring his shoulder, Haruki Bandou gladly gives up judo as he found no joy in it. However, he didn’t expect his best friend Kazuma to also leave the judo club and try to force him into forming a men’s-only cheerleading team.
It is an anime about cheerleading, and an anime about men’s cheerleading at that. Clearly there is some edgelord in Japan trying to make the next cult classic. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. It wasn’t a bad anime, but it wasn’t a breakout success like Free or Yuri on ice.
Jousting – Valkyrie Romanze
It is a show about jousting, but not necessarily a good show about jousting. Basically, it is about a young man named Takahiro Mizuno that was training to be a jouster, but got hurt, so he decided to train to become an assistant instead. As he has jousting experience and good animal handling skills, a whole harem of beautiful girls want him to become their assistant.
One person can’t know of all things. Take to the comments section below if you any more weird ass sport that have an anime covering them.