The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are finally underway and given its prime location in Japan, anime is taking center stage. As fans from around the globe gear up for this highly-anticipated international event after a year of postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's finally time to dive into the sporting action.
If you're a fan of the Olympic Games and want to see your favorite events in a new light, here are seven sports anime that take the competition to new heights.
Fans are buzzing after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics played the Haikyuu!! theme song during one of its volleyball games, making a surprising and perfectly-timed cameo. This hit anime stars the rowdy yet ambitious players of Karasuno High's men's volleyball team. Despite being the underdogs and dubbed the "Flightless Crows," their program suddenly improves when some talented incoming freshmen revitalize the team's energy and drive. As the teammates help and support one another to improve their craft, each player discovers new signature moves to contribute to the team.
Since the series focuses heavily on its sport with little regard to subplots, viewers will learn plenty of volleyball trivia along the way. Haikyuu!! dives into volleyball's rules, player positions, techniques, and training methods. Viewers gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the game, which makes it more enjoyable to watch real-life volleyball matches. With heart-pounding action and nail-bitingly close contests, the series offers all the thrills and anticipation of the sport's viewing experience. If you love watching volleyball or beach volleyball in the Olympics, you'll be sure to enjoy the high-flying Crows of Haikyuu!!
As one of the Summer Olympics' most highly-anticipated sports, Kuroko's Basketball is a brilliant anime adaptation that will appeal to hoops fans everywhere. When five star players were teammates on the Teiko Junior High basketball team, they won the Japanese Nationals three years in a row. They were called the "Generation of Miracles," similar to the "Dream Team" of the 1992 US men's Olympic basketball team that included all-stars like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley.
When the former teammates of the "Generation of Miracles" go to different high schools with top-ranked basketball teams, they're now forced to compete with one another to see who's best. However, the group's sixth and secret member, Tetsuya Kuroko, returns from the US and joins a smaller basketball team at Seirin High. As a naturally gifted player, Kuroko is determined to make Seirin the best basketball team in Japan and surpass his former teammates. Offering intense and high-paced basketball action, viewers are likely to enjoy Kuroko's Basketball as much as the real thing.
Free! is the ideal anime for fans of swimming given its beautiful animation depicting the highly-anticipated Olympic sport. The series stars a naturally talented swimmer named Haruka Nanase who resurrects the Iwatobi High School swim team alongside his friends. Delving into the rigorous training and practice needed to be a competitive swimmer, the colorful characters prove the sport isn't as easy as Michael Phelps makes it seem.
The men of Iwatobi's swim team encourage each other and bond over their love for swimming. While watching an anime full of fun and refreshing visuals, viewers may be tempted to go for a swim and experience the classic Olympic sport for themselves.
Sk8 the Infinity
Since skateboarding is finally making its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Sk8 The Infinity is the perfect anime to celebrate the sport's latest feat. The series stars a group of hardcore and talented skaters in Okinawa who host a secret competition called "S." The competition takes place in an abandoned mine after midnight, making it even riskier and more adrenaline-pumping than usual.
Reki Kyan is a high schooler who regularly partakes in the underground races and later drags his snowboarding classmate, Langa, into this mysterious world of skating. As these competitive skaters try to prove their dominance in the sport, their rivalries add extra drama and suspense to skateboarding. Sk8 the Infinity is sure to appeal to fans of Tony Hawk or general skateboarding alike.
Another new addition, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will feature climbing as an official sport for the first time. Iwa Kakeru!, released in fall 2020, stars a group of female rock climbers. The protagonist Konomi Kasahara joins Hanamiya Girls' High School's Climbing Club and develops a newfound passion for the sport. As a former lover of puzzles, Konomi makes a connection between her puzzle-solving skills and the ability to navigate a rock wall. For fans who want to learn more about this new Olympic sport, Iwa Kakeru! is a great introduction to the world of climbing.
Prince of Tennis
If tennis is your favorite Olympic sport, Prince of Tennis' celebrated depiction of the classic sport makes it a must-watch. The series stars a tennis prodigy, Ryoma Echizen, who enters Seishun Academy because of its prestigious tennis club. Despite only being a freshman, Ryoma defeats his upperclassmen to become a regular on the team. As the tennis players learn new techniques to improve their game, the anime offers an informative look at the ins and outs of competitive tennis. Not only is Prince of Tennis a great sports anime with entertaining tennis matches, but it also features complex and satisfying character development as Ryoma gains a deeper understanding of his relationship with the game.
Yowamushi Pedal is the perfect anime for fans of Olympic cycling or triathlons. The series stars Sakamichi Onoda, a self-proclaimed otaku who struggles to make friends but hopes his situation will change when he enters his new high school. When Onoda's riding his old and bulky bike, his freshman classmate and gifted cyclist Shunsuke Imaizumi spots him riding up a hill with minimal effort. He later approaches Onoda to join the school's cycling race team at Sohoku.
Happy and relieved to finally make friends, Onoda joins the team and the members get to know each other during frequent bike rides and competitions. These characters are fun and entertaining to watch as they bond over their mutual love for cycling. As a lighthearted anime with a quirky protagonist, Yowamushi Pedal is an easy and enjoyable viewing experience for any biking fan.