Sports are something that unites people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. Tales of the underdog overcoming the odds or the prodigy showcasing their abilities have long been popularized in literature and film. Hajime no Ippo is a great anime example of sports. Many of the tropes seen in modern sports anime were popularized by this 1989 anime adaptation of a boxing manga. With its emphasis on character relationships and romance throughout, Hajime no Ippo challenges the stereotype that boxing is all about slamming the opponent’s face in. You’ll laugh, cry, and cheer Ippo on with the rest of his friends as he faces trial after trial.
In recent years, sports anime has swept Japan. The good news is that if Ippo’s first Dempsey Roll hooked you on Hajime no Ippo, you have plenty of other memorable and moving sports anime to choose from.
Check out these 6 shows that are like Hajime no Ippo.
1. Eyeshield 21
A high school football team named The Devil Bats, who are underdogs, are vying for the annual Christmas Bowl tournament in EyeShield 21, a shounen sports anime based on American football. Hell-raising captain Hiruma hires Sena as his running back after discovering the lithe freshman’s crazy reflexes and speed as a result of running errands for his bullies. The “secretary” is equipped with a visor and given a team-issued helmet, renaming him “Eyeshield 21” on the field in order to keep Sena hidden. In the fall of 2007, Toonami Jetstream and NFL Rush, a children’s website run by the NFL, broadcast this anime in the United States. In addition, the anime contains allusions to NFL players.
Like Ippo, Sena has an advantage in his chosen field of competition. Running back is an ideal position for someone with his level of speed, but he must work hard to learn the game and hone his abilities. Like Ippo, who began his boxing career by using the strength he gained from helping his mother, Sena must figure out how to make the most of his agility. It’s a must-see for fans who enjoy seeing an underdog team rise to the top of their sport, with a good mix of dramatic scenes and comedic relief, as well as nail-biting matches that keep you on the edge of your seat.
2. Diamond no Ace (Ace of Diamond)
In both the United States and Japan, baseball is a popular pastime. Follow high school freshman southpaw pitcher Eijun Sawamura as he attempts to overcome his flaws with a unique pitching style and make the first team in this next shounen team sports anime. While this is a promising start for him, he faces stiff competition from fellow freshman and talented pitcher Satoru Furuya, who is already in the starting lineup. Fortunately for Eijun, he has some experienced teammates who can guide him toward his ultimate goal of becoming the team’s ace.
In spite of the fact that this shounen sports anime has a lot of serious and heartbreaking scenes, there are also a lot of comedic and suspenseful moments scattered throughout. This time around, much like in Hajime no Ippo, you’ll get a glimpse into the pasts of the characters and learn how they came to be where they are. You’ll be drawn in by the show’s main cast, but characters like Kazuya Miyuki, the brilliant but cruel catcher, will keep you hooked. Fortunately, Diamond no Ace: Second Season and Diamond no Ace: Act II, the third season of this anime, will premiere in April 2019.
3. Haikyuu!! (Haikyu!!)
This volleyball-themed anime will keep the shounen team sports train chugging along. After making it to the Interhigh championships, Karasuno High School’s volleyball team was well-known, but it has since slipped to the bottom of the league. Tobio Kageyama, the “King of the Court,” joins the team despite this, and Shouyou Hinata, a boy with incredible jumping power, is shocked to learn that Tobio has joined too! Following Hinata’s record-breaking spike of one of Kageyama’s Quicks, they are now forced to work as a team and with their teammates to become the best volleyball team in Japan.
As in Hajime no Ippo, you’ll see players find their passion, overcome their weaknesses, and strive to be the best, regardless of the type of sport they play or where they play it. The Karasuno team, as well as the other teams, are all hilarious in Haikyuu!! The backstories of each character are fascinating, and their personalities leap off the screen. You’ll burst out laughing at their antics, empathize with the group’s elders, and root for them to succeed. The first season of Haikyuu!! has a second season, as well as numerous side stories and movies to enjoy if you’ve already finished the first.
4. Baby Steps
Baby Steps, an anime about tennis and how Eiichirou Maruo, a bookworm and complete tennis novice, becomes one of the best tennis players, continues the theme of shounen sports anime. Eiichirou, in contrast to other sports anime, decides to learn tennis because he studies too much and is concerned about his health, rather than because he is forced into it or wants to improve his skills. Nevertheless, once he starts playing, he uses his analytical mind and hard work to develop an incredibly strategic style of tennis.
If you’re looking for a tennis anime that’s a little more realistic, look no further. You’ll learn a lot about the game of tennis by following Eiichirou’s progress, but you’ll also get a peek into the minds of professional tennis players as they compete. It begins slowly, but once Eiichirou’s efforts begin to bear fruit, the pace quickens. When you see how hard this main character works, you’ll be reminded of Ippo. After all, you get nothing for nothing. You can continue watching after you’ve finished season one with the additional 25 episodes in season two!
5. All Out!!
This anime is for those who enjoy rougher sports like rugby, and it features some wild hairstyles and the message that hard work pays off. The show’s star is Kenji Gion, a small, mouthy freshman with a strong desire to play rugby despite his lack of experience. Their coach, advisor, school, and every other rugby team are all looking to see if this ragtag group of high schoolers can deliver.
In order to play and not be a burden, Kenji will have to work harder than anyone else on the team, starting from the bottom. No one, including Ippo, thinks Kenji has what it takes to be a good rugby player in the future. However, as a result of his tireless efforts, even his more experienced teammates will be motivated to work harder and improve as players as well. There’s always something going on in this anime, whether it’s with the main characters or the supporting cast. After watching this, your only question will be, “Why aren’t there more?”
6. Hinomaruzumo (Hinomaru Sumo)
Hinomaruzumo, the newest sports anime to make the cut, has arrived! Sumo shounen anime is a relatively new genre, but if you enjoyed Hajime no Ippo, you’ll enjoy this as well. Sumo is a sport where “big” guys wrestle in the Japanese style, but Ushio Hinomaru isn’t your typical sumo wrestler. Because of the scars on his body, he is undaunted by his small stature and is more focused than ever on establishing the Oodachi High School sumo club and eventually becoming a professional sumo wrestler with the title of Hinoshita Kaisan.
A good sports anime protagonist must have a lot of passion, and Ushio certainly does! Learn about sumo and watch this underdog team grow into a formidable force as you fall in love with the various quirky characters. Ushio is a fascinating protagonist in a sport in which individuals compete against one another while also being a part of a team. Between the plot, character growth, and epic fights, Hajime no Ippo will keep you coming back for more. You’ll be inspired by its themes, which will rekindle your passion for success and get you fired up to go after your dreams.
Even though sports anime are clearly based on a specific sporting event or activity, they are characterized by the wide range of characters they feature. There will be some similarities between the main characters, who often have no prior knowledge of the sport or are otherwise at a disadvantage, but that’s part of what makes the show appealing to the audience. While no one starts out as the best or even a very good player, with the help of those around you, you can achieve success as a team and as an individual. These six anime can help you ignite your inner flame, whether it’s for sports, school, work, or just about anything else. Anime similar to Hajime no Ippo that we missed? Let us know in the comments below so we can share it with our readers!