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Sports anime has a draw unlike any other genre. Sure, it may not have the swords, guns, blood, and violence that are so prominent in mainstream anime series like Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, and One Piece. Yet, it makes up for that in other ways.
Historically, sports have acted as a kind of stand-in for real bloodshed and conflict—so it’s no surprise that sports anime can stir up the same kinds of tension and drama. But without bloodshed, sports anime series have had to come up with creative ways to get viewers interested.
The result? Some of the best animated sequences and the most hair-raising scenes in all of anime are found in sports anime. It’s so compelling to watch that you’ll be hooked even if you have no interest in sports!
Here are some of the best scenes and moments featured in sports anime, in case you still don’t believe that sports anime can be fire.
11. Hanamichi Sakuragi’s Winning Dunk vs. Ryonan (Slam Dunk)
Sakuragi has improved a lot in basketball, and he’s proven himself as one of the most formidable players on the court. This scene shows that he won’t be defeated again by their rival, Ryonan.
What makes this scene so satisfying is how Sakuragi ordered his teammates to prepare for Sendo’s counterattack (during the last seconds of the clock), showing how he learned from the mistake in their practice game.
10. Hinata and Kageyama Quick Attack Moments (Haikyuu!!)
Tobio Kageyama and Shoyo Hinata’s quick attack is one of Karasuno High’s most effective ways to score. In this maneuver, Tobio sets the ball up while Shoyo aims for the spike.
What’s great about these moments is the fact that they’re opposing forces outside the court, but on the court they trust each other to the point that they almost seem to be able to read each other’s minds.
9. Ippo Makunouchi’s Dempsey Roll (Hajime no Ippo)
Makunouchi Ippo has some devastating moves up his sleeve, but the Dempsey Roll is his ultimate finisher. Whenever he pulls this trick, there’s no escape (though some boxers have countered it with minimal damage).
The Dempsey Roll is pretty simple yet packed with tremendous power. With every movement and sway of his body, he loads momentum and converts it into an explosive force when he throws his next punch.
8. Daiki Aomine’s Zone Mode (Kuroko’s Basketball)
What makes Aomine’s Zone so satisfying? Aside from the fluid movements and near-impossible shooting positions, it’s the tension brought by the purple sparks in his eyes (indicating that he’s in his Zone).
When he enters his Zone, it’s as if he’s the only player on the court—and his unpredictable and unblockable skills go up to a whole new level!
7. Takamura and Ippo’s Arm Wrestling Match (Hajime no Ippo)
This scene from the boxing anime series Hajime no Ippo isn’t about boxing, but it’s an important match between Kamugawa Boxing Gym’s powerhouses: Mamoru Takamura and Makunouchi Ippo.
It all started from a simple teasing, which quickly escalated into what would become a legendary match. It seems like a mismatched fight since both fighters are in different weight divisions, but Ippo puts up a good fight!
6. Devil Bats vs. White Knights (Eyeshield 21)
In this Eyeshield 21 match, it seems like the Devil Bats have no chance against the giant players of the White Knights. But they manage to score by relying on their trust in each other and the incredible speedrunner they have: Sena Kobayakawa AKA Eyeshield 21.
The best part of the scene is when Eyeshield 21 outruns Shin Seijuro, who was deemed to be the perfect player!
5. Onoda and Tadokoro Singing While Pedaling (Yowamushi Pedal)
To catch up with their team and pass the other cyclists in front of them, Sakamichi Onoda devises a plan and convinces his teammate, Jin Tadokoro, to go along with him: singing while pedaling.
What makes this scene undeniably cool is the synchronization of the song, the beat, the way they sing it, and the way they pedal.
It’s also heartwarming to see how Onoda manages to bring back Tadokoro’s fighting spirit, as the latter was about to give up.
4. Seirin’s Direct Drive Zone (Kuroko’s Basketball)
At the start of Kuroko’s Basketball, we saw the Generation of Miracles enter their Zone Modes, which enhances their focus and reflexes during play. Taiga Kagami’s Zone Mode is like Aomine’s but way better, such that he can bring his whole team into the Direct Drive Zone.
Instead of each individual player entering their own Zones, the whole Seirin Team seems to enter the Zone as one—and the cherry on top is the satisfyingly flashy animation that adds to the tension.
3. Ryoma Echizen’s Epic Train Scene (New Prince of Tennis)
In New Prince of Tennis, whenever Ryoma Echizen is in the game, you know it’s going to be a satisfying one to watch. This particular entrance is so epic—and it even seems possible in real life, but you shouldn’t try it at home.
2. Karasuno vs. Shiratorizawa (Haikyuu!!)
During the Karasuno-Shiratorizawa match, we watch as Wakatoshi Ushijima pins down Tsukishima and Hinata of Karasuno, indicating that he’s putting a lot of pressure on those players.
But then we see the rest of the Karasuno team lift him up and help their teammates, displaying what teamwork is and how powerful teamwork can be. It’s one of the most emotionally extraordinary scenes in sports anime.
1. Takamura vs. Hawk (Hajime no Ippo)
Boxing is violent and brutal, no matter if it’s featured in an anime, a movie, a TV series, or even the real thing. That’s on full display during Mamoru Takamura’s championship match against Bryan Hawk—a world title match in which Takamura gives his all.
When Takamura receives Hawk’s finisher and lands a counterattack? So awesome, especially because we can feel how heavy that punch is.