We all know how great sports anime can be. This genre of anime has grown exponentially since the humble beginnings and every year it seems that more and more of them are rising to the top of everyone's best anime of the year lists. However, with the growing volume of sports anime comes much more variety and when it comes to sports anime you can be sure that no two series are ever the same.
At one moment, you could be watching an anime about high school boys playing tennis and the next thing you know, the main characters are in super-powered mechs using asteroids and meteors as the ball. So, let's show a few examples with the five most and least accurate depictions sports in anime.
10 Accurate: Yuri On Ice
Despite a few exaggerations, Yuri on Ice is a pretty accurate depiction of ice skating in anime form. Why wouldn't it be? The team behind it has come out as huge fans of the amazing sport and many of the characters are even based on real professional ice skaters.
A few skaters have even come out themselves and stated that the stories the characters follow are very accurate to many skaters' own. So while some of the moves pulled off are a bit of a stretch of the imagination, the other details caught by the creators really make up for it big time!
9 Inaccurate: Prince of Tennis
Prince of Tennis begins by fooling you into thinking it's going to be a sports story based in reality but that is quickly thrown out the window like a ball over a tennis net. After the short realism fakeout, the series turns 180 and begins breaking the laws of physics at any given opportunity. Issac Newton would faint.
While the moves like Boomerang Snake, Kikumaru Beam, Dragonfly Illusion, and Cyclone Smash-Ryoma take inspiration from real tennis technique, they are way too far from reality to pull off IRL. Or, perhaps, players just aren't charging their chi through their tennis rackets enough.
8 Accurate: Hajime no Ippo
One of the most highly regarded and longest-running sports anime of all time, and for good reason. Hajime no Ippo features real ideas and techniques from real-life boxing and details it for casual viewers to understand. We follow our main character, Ippo, from his beginnings as a weak kid and his grueling training regimen to become a boxer, all the way up to his career in the realistic major leagues full of title-bouts. With no need of a time skip, by the way.
And no, the super moves aren't real, but they're definitely more realistic than our last and next entrants.
7 Inaccurate: Eyeshield 21
Eyeshield 21 is an amazing anime cut off the same leaf as The Prince of Tennis, where it starts off slow but ramps up fast. This series doesn't even try to fool you like that one though. It's shonen exaggeration through and through!
You've got your flash, your unrealistic comebacks, Dragon Ball-esque ki moves, hero moments, and straight-up superpowers! This is one series you don't want to go into looking for comparisons to its sports real-life counterpart cause that's not what you'll find here. If you're looking for something a bit more realistic while keeping the same fun intact, look no further than the next entrant!
6 Accurate: Ping Pong the Animation
This anime will absolutely blow you away with the true to life characters, plot, and crazy amazing animation! Each character is life-like and defies all the usual anime archetypes, the characters' driving motivations aren't simply the game they're playing but the relations forged by the game as well.
It's a tale of those without the natural-born talent that stick through when times get tough and forge the ability themselves. A ping pong anime may seem silly at first but this is one no sports or anime fan should miss out on. It's a legendary series that garners unanimous high praise for a reason.
5 Inaccurate: Baki the Grappler
You want a —literal— larger than life combat sports anime? Look no further than Baki the Grappler. This series is a celebration of all things combat sports and does it well. Complete fantasy with a hint of realism is the winning formula for this very celebrated series.
Baki is a series about an underground world of fighters from all genres of battle sports (boxing, Muay Thai, street fighting, and more) who come together to fight in no-holds-barred contests. In this pool of fighters, one man will be crowned the strongest in the land. Well, at least, it starts that simple until a caveman, psychopathic criminals, a reborn Musashi, and a guy that can stomp so hard he creates a mini earthquake show up. Oh, and Muhammad Ali is there too!
4 Accurate: Haikyuu!!
One of the most well-regarded sports anime of the decade! Haikyuu!! takes no shortcuts when it comes to being a perfect sports anime and bases everything in the real world. There are no power-ups, and barely any larger than life moves at all, besides a few high jumps and mega-accurate tosses here and there.
This anime is definitely one of the "very realistic" variety. The author himself was a middle-blocker on junior and senior high school volleyball teams had a big hand in that.
3 Inaccurate: Inazuma Eleven
God Hand, True God Hand, God Hand V, Fist of Justice, Majin the Hand, Omega the Hsubsti, the Hammer of Wrath, Outer Dimension Hand, Outer Dimension Hand Remastered, True Outer Dimension Hand, and Fireball Knuckle.
Even the biggest of soccer fans have presumably never heard about any of these techniques, which might just be among the most ridiculously named in anime. Due to this and the constant usage of ki moves in Inazuma Eleven, it'll be assumed that you know why this anime is unrealistic and we'll move on to the next entry.
2 Accurate: Slam Dunk
Not only is Slam Dunk one of the most realistic sports anime around, but it is also regarded as one of the best sports anime of all time. The main team takes plenty of losses and the series even goes out of its way to teach different rules and techniques of basketball.
Each character feels true to life and has different reasons for playing and is always at a different skill level. There are benchers and star players and of course, there are no power-ups or superpowers. If you're a basketball or anime fan, then Slam Dunk is a very highly recommended series!
1 Inaccurate: Kuroko no Basket
On the opposite end of the spectrum to Slam Dunk is Kuroko no Basket. This series is the epitome of "anime power up." Certain characters possess different inhuman abilities that they use to turn the tide on the court. When your sports series has power levels that are based on the different super skills you use, then you know something's up in the realism department.
But don't let these exaggerated feats ruin your experience. Each of the sports anime listed has something special to give to any viewer and each of them is highly recommended!