The thing about sports anime is that it isn’t for everyone. Some don’t like the idea of the story revolving around a sport, while others may just not like the sport itself. But you’re missing out! Some of the best stuff is in sports anime! Teamwork, bromance or just getting motivated to do better when you see the characters working hard towards their goal.
With sports anime there are plenty different types of protagonists: The cocky or arrogant prodigy, the loner who is just in the need of a good team, the completely oblivious to the whole sport in general, and many more. I, for one, am the type that have a hard time watching any anime if I can’t even like the main character. Especially in sports anime. So without further ado, these are five sports anime protagonists that will have you watching the whole series after seeing them in action.
Genre: Comedy, Sports (Figure Skating)
Yuri Katsuki, is a complex character. He is considered the top figure skater certified by the JSF (Japan Skating Federation), and isn’t afraid of hard work. Yuri doesn’t mind moving away from Japan for years in order to keep practicing figure skating.
Unfortunately, he can be easily discouraged, suffers from anxiety and isn’t used to being a person that others look forward to beating. His emotions can deeply affect his performance in the rink. He tends to act a bit cold to his opponents, can be self-centered, and can slip into months of depression when he tastes defeat. Thankfully he starts improving after his idol and the person he one day wishes to beat, Russian figure skater Victor Nikiforov, becomes his coach.
Once he starts training with Victor, Yuri gains more confidence in himself and his own abilities, learns to pay more attention to those around him, and isn’t afraid to openly state his desire to win the Grand Prix series.
When you have a main character that is prone to depression and lacks self-confidence, but loves the sport and works hard in it, it’s easy to get behind them and root for them. You feel like you can relate to them. Which is the same feeling you get with the next character.
Genre: School, Shounen, Sports (Soccer)
Tsukamoto is the type of character that can either be endearing or annoying to people. He is timid, very polite, a victim of bullying, and super honest, sometimes to the point of making himself look the fool. But after meeting and befriending the soccer prodigy Kazama Jin, he fell in love with soccer. Tsukamoto is no prodigy, and has no real athletic abilities, but he works hard, never gives up on the ball and inspires his teammates to strive to be better.
He is the type to really appreciate his teammates and friends because he knows how it feels to be alone. You also see him struggling with the competitive nature of the sport, especially among teammates, since he would rather they all have fun, and be able to play together. It’s heartwarming to see Tsukamoto struggle to accept that he will eventually takes someone’s spot on the team as he becomes a better player. Sure, some may find him annoying, since he sometimes comes across as being clueless and without much of a backbone, but his perseverance and determination are sure to pull you in and appreciate the series.
Genre: Comedy, Sports (Boxing)
Like Tsukamoto, Ippo is a shy kid, prone to being bullied, who lives with his mom. He helps her with the family fishing charter business, and thus never had the time to make friends. After being saved and meeting middleweight professional boxer, Takamura Mamoru, Ippo is introduced to the world of professional boxing. After this, Ippo’s inspired and decides to become a professional boxer. Thanks to working with his mom, Ippo was already well built for the sport. He also has the power and isn’t afraid of the hard work and injuries that comes with boxing. Most of all, despite his constant wins, Ippo never really gets overconfident and is always aware that he needs to keep training and become stronger for the next fight.
Also, like Tsukamoto and Yuri, seeing how Ippo starts gaining more confidence in himself and is able to better express himself, shows how much he grows thanks to the sport and the people he meets along the way. It isn’t just training to win a competition or defeat your opponent. It’s also growing as a person, thanks to the obstacles they overcome, and learning more about themselves along the way.
Genre: Comedy, Drama, School, Shounen, Sports (Volleyball)
Unlike the previous characters, Hinata has had no problem making friends or expressing himself. He’s cheerful, loud, and as easy to impress as he is to excited. But he has had problems being in a team since he was the only member of his volleyball team in middle school. Though that didn’t stop him from practicing daily, roping in anyone to help him whenever he could, and striving to enter nationals and win.
Despite his short stature, he has naturally quick reflexes, and amazing jumping abilities, almost always leaving his opponents speechless when they first witness him. Hinata has always aspired to become the ace, and shows this through his tremendous tenacity, and determination to constantly improve himself, and his love of the sport. He is also prone to show a serious and intimidating side, when dismissed or being underestimated by his opponents.
Like most of the previous characters, Hinata shows how hard work and determination can help someone achieve what they want. While he still hasn’t become the team’s ace, he is now a part of a team and is constantly improving himself. He has been able to grow and become a threat on his own, without fellow teammate and team prodigy, Kageyama Tobio’s help.
Genre: Comedy, School, Shounen, Sports (Baseball)
Last but not least is loud, the obnoxious and hotheaded Sawamura. Sawamura is a character who is easy to relate to. He was the captain and ace of his middle school team. While they weren’t very good, they cared for one another and enjoyed playing together. After leaving them to join the prestigious and legendary high school team Seido, Sawamura is thrown into a place where most consider him an idiot with a bark bigger than his bite. He constantly has to prove himself to his fellow teammates and coach and, most of all come to terms with the fact that he has a lot to learn.
Which is why he is such a likable character. He isn’t afraid of speaking his mind, is always eager to learn new things and ends up inspiring his teammates with his desire to give it his all. This is a trait that he shares with Tsukamoto from Days!
Sawamura, like Hinata, can be level-headed in critical moments and like Yuri, he can be influenced by his emotions and have it hurt his performance. All this makes him a refreshing character since he isn’t a perfect prodigy or a godlike player. He is a hard-working kid who, to chase his dreams, chooses to go into a new and intimidating environment. Also seeing how he treats each of his teammates differently, depending on how they treat him, is amusing.
All these characters are hard-workers that aspire to become better, to gain more confidence and appreciate their friends and/or family. They aren’t invincible in any way, shape or form. Stronger opponents can intimidate them; they can fall into despair from time to time, depending on the situation, and yet that never stops them from trying to improve themselves. They suck you in with their personalities and aspirations. These characters can inspire you to try harder in life, be it going out of your way to talk to someone you’ve always wanted to talk to or try something new, like a sport or even a type of food. All of them are characters that make you want to root for them. You want to see them succeed in their goal and honestly if you don’t, then I think something is wrong with you… Kidding! Maybe? Eh.
I hope this makes you check out sports anime, if you haven’t yet, or appreciate them a bit more.
Remember to have fun and feed the birds!