After being inspired by the small, but talented volleyball ace Little Giant, Shouyou Hinata revives the volleyball club at his middle school. However, when he is brutally crushed by King of the Court Tobio Kageyama, his first match ends up being his last. Swearing to surpass him, Shouyou joins the volleyball team in high school only to discover Tobio is now his teammate.
Haikyuu is not just a rare example of volleyball in anime, it is actually a quality anime too. With beautiful animation and believable characters, Haikyuu and these anime recommendations are for those that like their sports anime on the realistic side.
For Fans of Underdog Stories
Tsukushi is a boy who considers himself to have no special talents or traits. However, on one stormy night, he meets Jin, someone who is considered a soccer genius. After that fateful meeting, Tsukushi finds himself dragged in to the world of soccer.
While Haikyuu features a main protagonist that always had an interest in volleyball,. In Days, Tsukushi really didn’t have an interest in soccer until certain events. However, both series are about boys that start off lackluster, but aim to ardently get better at it.
My Hero Academia
After the sudden appearance of super powers, or “quirks,” now 80 percent of humanity have these powers. With some Quirk users turning to crime, it gave rise to super heroes that help the police keep the peace. Since he was a child, Izuku Midoriya has idolized super heroes, especially the symbol of peace All Might, but he is devastated to learn that he won’t manifest a Quirk himself. Still, he studies super heroes and is determined to become one. After a chance encounter with All Might, he learns that there still may be a chance for him to get a Quirk after all.
Though not about sports, My Hero Academia and Haikyuu are the ultimate underdog shows. You watch wimpy, short kids struggle to grow stronger and slowly succeed when compared to their more talented peers. Of course, in both shows, this struggle sort of falls off as they come into their own.
Gutsy young go-getter Kenji Gion joins his school’s rugby team as soon as the entrance ceremony is over. There he finds three distinctly different teammates that not only have differences in personalities, but in performance as well. This is their story about how they grow as a team.
Both series follow shorter young protagonists that are extremely passionate about their sport. Despite some setbacks, they end up joining a team where they can grow and get better at the sport. Of course, they have those that are slightly better than them or taller and in better shape, but they find their own ways to overcome these rivals.
For Fans of Realistic Natural Talent
Growing up in the shadow of her older sister, Chihaya Ayase is strong-willed and a tomboy with no dreams of her own. However, after meeting a young boy with a passion of a card game called karuta, he inspires her to become a karuta master.
Both series feature a protagonist that is inspired to do something after seeing someone else do it, be it volleyball or karuta. While they have to train hard, both characters also have a natural ability for their passion that can kind of set other people on edge since they often had to train harder.
Ping Pong the Animation
Makoto and Yukata, nicknamed Smile and Peco, have grown up playing ping pong together. While Yukata is bursting with confidence in his matches, Makoto is somewhat less ambitious about the sport. However, because they play their matches together, they have built a mutual love for the sport.
Who could have ever thought anyone could make ping pong interesting? The same might be said about volleyball. Yet in the characters, animation, and just in general the way they are presented, both of these series will draw you in. They also feature characters that unlock their natural ability at a sport through training.
Welcome to the Ballroom
Tatara is rescued one day by a professional dancer and teacher named Sengoku. Ending up back at his dance studio, he meets a school mate that he had secretly come to idolize. From this moment, Tatara is thrust into a the world of dance, aiming to improve as a dancer in order to be acknowledged by his peers and rivals while Sengoku nurtures his natural talent.
Sometimes we might not realize we have a talent for something unless we give it a chance. In Welcome to the Ballroom, he just sort of falls into it while in Haikyuu the main character actively seeks to play, but both of them fully realize their natural abilities for their sports. However, only by being nourished by teachers and peers do they grow.
For Fans of Team Play
When it came to batting, Ren Mihashi was an ace of his middle school baseball team. However, it was his pitching that lead to their constant loses. The bullying of his teammates got to be so much that his self-esteem was crushed and he moved to a new prefecture for high school with no intent on playing ball. However, while is unwillingly dragged in, he finds that this team might just be his perfect match.
While also sharing some underdog story traits with Haikyuu, the biggest similarities between Big Windup and Haikyuu are the battery teamwork and the setter-spiker teamwork. Both of these series focus on sports that greatly benefit from the players enhancing their teamwork, so alongside growth of abilities, there is a strong focus on this as well.
Struggling to stave of relegation and hemorrhaging fans, the East Tokyo United soccer team is looking at the end of its life cycle. However, in order to improve, they hired a new and slightly eccentric coach. Considered one of the soccer greats when he was younger, can new coach Tatsumi Takeshi turn this team around?
If you thirst for an anime that has a certain amount of realism to its sports, Giant Killing and, to a lesser extent, Haikyuu can fulfill that. However, the true similarities here are how a team is brought together in order to better excel at their sport, but in Giant Killing, the coach plays a bigger part.
The Knight in the Area
Brothers Kakeru and Suguru both have a passion for soccer, but while Suguru becomes a rising star, Kakeru adopts a more managerial role. Despite being weaker on the field than his brother, Kakaeru still trains with hopes to play in the world cup on day.
Although Knight in the Area focuses around brothers, both it and Haikyuu tell the ultimate team stories where the purpose of both teammates and rivals are not to tear you down, but to build you up and give something to shoot for. Watch these underdogs struggle side-by-side with superior players as the aim for the top.
If you have more anime recommendations like Haikyuu, leave them down in the comments section below.