Anime Vice News

The History of Sports Manga & Anime

Tom "Calaggie" Langston presents his chronicle of the genre from FanimeCon.

This past Sunday at FanimeCon in San Jose, I gave a 50-minute panel about the history of sports manga and anime. It was held in the smallest of the four available panel rooms at the convention but the room looked full when I started speaking so that was good.

My presentation was mainly broken into three parts:

  • booms in manga & anime about particular sports with some historical details about Japanese sport history
  • samples of some more contemporary sports manga with focuses on disciplines like volleyball and rugby
  • the performance of sports manga and anime in the US and what series have been published here

Although I gave a similar panel in 2012 at both Fanime and Otakon on manga about sports featured in the Summer and Winter Olympics (like rowing and curling), I was still a bit nervous before getting into the room and onto the stage. While listening to my audio recording afterward, I realized I spent a bit too much time attempting to explain the Japanese sport history parts. There were also points where I made references to performances and developments off the top of my head that I had vaguely recalled from doing research over the past couple months. That caused me to have to speed through the last portion of the presentation since I was down to my last 5 to 10 minutes at that point.

Overall, I think I did an okay job in presenting it and those who attended the panel seemed to appreciate it, particularly the ones who didn’t know much about the series that came out decades ago. I haven't seen many written reactions online after the panel aside from one person calling it “decent”. I'm interested to read some informed criticism since it was my first time giving this particular presentation.

I combined my own recorded audio & panel slides into a video for people who couldn’t attend in person as well as those who were there but missed some parts of it. Please watch it and provide some feedback and corrections of what I might have gotten wrong (for example, saying Mix takes place in same high school as H2 when it's in fact Touch) or should have mentioned so I can make adjustments for a possible future installment of such a panel and so I can also make annotations to the video.

Finally, the reason I gave this panel and ones in the past is that I genuinely like sports as well as anime & manga and I enjoy seeing how fictional combinations of them turn out. I don't feel like I have actually watched or read enough titles to consider myself an expert on the subject but I would like to promote awareness of them any way I can.

Thanks for reading (and watching)!

About the Author

CalAggie (Tom Langston) is an Anime/manga consumer, occasional blogger, sports fan, out-of-practice philosopher. Avatar: GZ (Iron Leaguer) Header: Mikakunin OP. Follow him
takashichea moderator on May 30, 2014 at 5:05 p.m.

I only have seen 2 sports show: Kuroko's Basketball and Haikyuu!!

Star of the Giants started it all. Knew it was baseball that jump started the sport genre in anime. That was an informative panel. I want to try Slam Dunk, another basketball series, after seeing Kuroko's Basketball.

You should check this out! I remember you wrote a review on Princess Nine. I'm trying to get all the sport fans in this community.

I know another guy! we never did finish Kuroko's Basketball season 2 together.

Golf - I never really got into. I always see it as a middleage man's sport where you're into retirement. You play golf. I know it's a bad stereotype there. I remember a lot of folks mention golf as their pastime in an anime survey. Where folks were embarrassed to say anime is their hobby.


I'm not the best person in public speaking. I'm terrible at it. I say 'um" a lot. I think you should add more excitement or more enthusiasm. I know you were preparing for the panel. It's pretty daunting.

Good job on hosting a panel.

Dream moderator on May 30, 2014 at 6:12 p.m.

Seen and/or are familiar with some sports anime. Mitsuru Adachi is well-known for having published several romantic comedy/ drama anime revolving around baseball like Touch, H2 and Cross Game. Big Windup, Major, Princess Nine and Taisho Baseball Girls are also notable baseball anime, three of whom got released here in the states.

Other sports anime/ manga I have familiarity with are Slam Dunk (basketball), Hajime no Ippo (boxing), Ashita no Joe (boxing again), Initial D (car racing), Giant Killing (soccer) and Free (swimming).

Much as it may pain potential fans of these titles, many sports anime are quite a niche for overseas anime fans, to the point where some notable sports titles like Hajime no Ippo and Big Windup got low enough sales to the point where their later seasons were never licensed and whomever licensed them left them to rot away until they went out of print.

sotyfan16on June 6, 2014 at 4:50 a.m.

Wow, really cool you had a panel. I'll have to give a listen.

I've always not been interested in sports anime. Usually they have been about sports I didn't particularly care for or I simply wasn't interested in watch show about the sport. That changed a bit last year when I started watching Yowapeda on CrunchyRoll. I love the characters, story, and the excitement I get from the fierceness and dedication involved in competitive bicycle racing. I never knew much about the sport but the show has me hooked. I highly recommend it for sports anime fans and general viewers alike. Hell you could probably use it as an introductory anime for newbies since the show is not really heavy on tropes and is character-driven.

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