10 Sports Anime That Are So Bad They're Good – CBR – Comic Book Resources

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A few sports anime titles have turned into the type of silly series that are more enjoyable to watch than they have any right to be.
The sports anime genre is a polarizing one, but regardless of fan response, the genre has consistently carved out an audience for itself over the past few decades. While there has been an increase in the number of modern titles like Haikyuu! that have noteworthy critical value that extends beyond the realm of whatever sport they depict, most of these series are still relegated to the realm of guilty pleasures.
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From basketball to ping pong to sumo wrestling, sports anime have depicted virtually every athletic endeavor that exists, resulting in a laundry list of series that have entertainingly failed to reach the same level of critical success as their modern counterparts. However, similar to the appeal of low-level reality television series like Jersey Shore and Love Island, a few sports anime titles have turned into the type of silly series that are more enjoyable to watch than they have any right to be.
For anime watchers who prioritize production value above all else, look no further than Hanebado!. The studio behind the series, Liden Films, is known more for their infamous 3D animation of 2016's Berserk reboot than their handling of Hanebado!, which is unfortunate because the badminton-centric anime is one of the most visually impressive series of the past decade.
As beautiful as the series is, its narrative composition and character development can be lacking at times, making the series a bit of a dud when it comes to rewatchability. If viewers can accept Hanebado!'s clichéd character motivations, minimal commitment to explaining the rules of badminton, and boring writing, then the animation will make the viewing experience more than worth it.
As far as sports anime go, rugby is a fairly rare topic to see depicted. All Out!!, first released in 2016, bucks this trend, capturing the muscle-bound antics of Kanagawa Prefecture High School's rugby club. Since this series was produced by Madhouse, the animation studio behind the immaculately animated first season of One-Punch Man, the expectations for All Out!!'s animation were unsurprisingly high.
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Unfortunately, the animation of this series isn't anything to write home about, and its narrative does little to make up for its shortcomings. However, something about the spectacle created by the exaggerated character designs and action scenes is undeniably entertaining, resulting in a frenetically-paced and surprisingly fun series.
While most anime in the sports genre stick to more traditional athletic fields, Iwa-Kakeru! Climbing Girls instead tackles unfamiliar territory – rock climbing. This series is the sole anime written by Ryuudai Ishizaka. Yet, despite their lack of experience in the genre, Iwa-Kakeru! Climbing Girls is a surprising amount of fun to watch.
All 12 episodes in the series are as outrageous as one would expect an anime centered around female rock-climbing clubs to be, and although the fan service and wacky plot point occasionally hold the show back, it results in a campy atmosphere that is always entertaining.
Sports anime rarely prides itself on realistic depictions of the material that it tackles. However, Kuroko's Basketball takes a hilariously large step in the direction of fantasy. Centered around the exploits of Tetsuya Kuroko and Taiga Kagami, a pair of Japan's best rising basketball players, this series pushes its characters to superhuman limits.
Characters disappear from sight, teleport across the court, perform impossibly acrobatic basketball moves, and take to the skies in flight while competing in basketball games against one another, and while this is an outrageous depiction of the sport, it is certainly fun to watch.
SK8 The Infinity's production company, Bones (My Hero Academia, Full Metal Alchemist), and its author, Ichiro Okouchi (Code Geass), have both been involved with high-quality titles. Conceptually, this show is no exception.
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The issue, if it's even worth being described as such, with this series lies in its polarizing presentation, as its emphasis on comedy and a fairly absurd premise make it hit-or-miss depending on who is watching. Centered around an exaggerated, violent version of skateboarding, SK8 The Infinity is definitely worth checking out.
Expectations for a show titled Scorching Ping Pong Girls should obviously be tempered. For viewers going in with an open mind, however, the 2016 series can be a fun departure from other more serious topics. Produced by Kinema Citrus, the studio behind Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and Black Bullet, Scorching Ping Pong Girls only ran for 12 episodes on TV Tokyo, making it a small investment for viewers looking to watch something new.
Nobody watching this series will ever argue that it reaches high levels of art or presents any particularly challenging dilemmas to its characters, but for a zany series about high-octane ping pong matches, it doesn't really have to. Anime watchers going into this one with low expectations will be rewarded with a surprisingly enjoyable set of action sequences and adorable character moments.
Since Japan lacks much of an American football presence, it should come as no surprise that the anime genre is largely devoid of any series revolving around the game. Thankfully, Eyeshield 21 provides a bit of exposure for the high-octane sport. Featuring over 140 episodes, the series was originally written by Riichiro Inagaki and published in Weekly Shonen Jump from 2002 to 2009.
For a sports anime series, Eyeshield 21 actually features some well-developed characters and plot lines. Its main character, Sena Kobayakawa, is an understated, endearing character who slowly wins over the audience over the course of his journey. However, the show can't help but be characterized by the stereotypical, over-the-top action scenes that are more at home in something like Dragon Ball Z.
Another series animated by Liden Films, the studio behind Hanebado!, Tribe Nine somehow finds a way to blend dystopian fiction and sports anime into a single series, and although the two themes definitely feel incongruous at times, they make for a fun and unique atmosphere overall.
The fact that Hanebado! takes place in the year "20XX" goes to show that its developers are more than willing to phone it in when it comes to the show's world-building and plot, especially when considering just how silly the concept of mediating conflict through "Extreme Baseball" is. Thankfully, this all feeds into the appeal of the series and helps make it the absurdist adventure that it is.
Even after watching the entirety of 2017's Dive!!, produced by the relatively small Zero-G studio, it is still hard to tell whether the series is taking itself seriously or not. Undeniably comedic in tone, Dive!! also weaves in a coming-of-age story centered around its main character, Tomoki Sakai. However, it tends to take a backseat to its light-hearted aspects despite being the narrative thrust of the series.
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Any anime centered around the sport of diving is bound to be an entertaining novelty at the very least, and Dive!! isn't an exception in that regard. The diving scenes, although not particularly well animated for the most part, are a quirky addition to Tomoki's story, and they tend to alleviate any issues caused by its general lack of direction.
There is a handful of anime that are so bad that they begin to delve into the realm of spectacle rather than purposeful art, and it feels safe to say that Wave!!: Let's Go Surfing fits this description. First released under the Asahi Production umbrella as three theatrical films, this surfing adventure was eventually turned into a 12-episode television series.
For a title that was originally released in theaters, the animation of this series is shockingly bad. 3D animation has always been met with mixed reviews from anime fans, but it's hilariously bad in Wave!!: Let's Go Surfing, along with just about every other aspect of the series. If anime watchers are looking for something to laugh at, this one is a great place to start.
Next: 10 Best Underrated Isekai Anime Every Fan Should Watch
Anime Lists Writer–Hendrix College Alumni–Fayetteville, AR
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