Like most other media, anime genres go through ups and downs in popularity. Over the past decade, isekai shows have dominated the medium, and there are no signs of slowing down. Sports anime, on the other hand, has been in something of a slump — these shows just haven’t had the same impact on the fan base they did five years ago. Most of the popular shows from that era have either ended or have no sign of another season coming up. Meanwhile, new sports series have often failed to live up to expectations.
However, the spring 2022 season may well change this trend. This season has five unprecedented sports titles, none of which cover the same activity. From football to horse racing, they each have their own unique qualities to offer viewers. Of these, the top three ranked on MyAnimeList all have a lot of potential. Whether it’s for the animation studio or the story they plan to tell, these anime might just pull the genre out of its rut.
This series is supported by anime fans who pay attention to the studios that handle the animation. Produced by Production IG, known for their impressive work on widely acclaimed shows such as Vinland Saga and the first seasons of both The attack of the Titans and Haikyu!!, Aoashi already has a pedigree. On top of that, it creates a great setup for a sports series in its first installment with an obviously flawed protagonist.
Ashito Aoi immediately establishes himself as a competent football player. Every time he has the ball, he can score a goal. However, it is also a problem for other players on the pitch. The main strategy of Ashito’s team is to pass the ball to him and let him score, which makes him come across as self-centered to his opponents. Their assumptions aren’t wrong – Ashito admits he’s being selfish, but his team accepts it. This attitude may have worked for him so far, but it has also had consequences: due to his reputation and immaturity, he loses an opportunity to be scouted for a well-known high school team.
At the end of Episode 1, he gets a chance to go to Tokyo and join a team, but only after proving his dedication to bettering himself in the sport. Ashito sees the task his new coach has given him as a challenge, and as a result, goes all out to do it right. In one episode, Aoashi establishes the strengths and weaknesses of the main character in a balanced way. He’s not a prodigy or someone who can do one thing really well – he’s a passionate kid with plenty of room to grow.
Dance Dance Dancer
Dance Dance Dancer also has a famous animation studio supporting it. MAPPA, known for working on Jujutsu Kaisenthe last seasons of The attack of the Titans and the next Chainsaw Man adaptation, is responsible for bringing this anime to life. Episode 1 shows off the studio’s storied resume in minutes with its first ballet showcase, in a stunning performance that uses no polarizing CG animation.
However, the biggest draw for many fans is the message he is about to deliver. The main character, Junpei, fell in love with ballet as a child and pushed himself to get involved despite his father’s brief opposition. Then tragedy struck, and suddenly Junpei felt he had to get rid of his “feminine” interest. Intentionally or not, the expectations and comments of those around him push him to follow in his father’s footsteps, so he abandons ballet for martial arts.
Despite his insistence that he’s done dancing, it’s clear to the audience that he isn’t. He always wants to but stops most of the time. That’s why, while his reason for taking him back is a girl he likes, Junpei returning to ballet feels authentic. Even doing things that are supposed to make him a man, Junpei is brought back to the studio every day. While dancing, he feels sensations that he never gets with martial arts. How he handles rediscovering his love and letting others know about it will be the main driving force behind this series.
I like to play everything
I like to play everything is more of a joker, but what he has can lead to something big. In recent years, several anime have been made about badminton, but none of them have become more than passing interest to the community at large. Hanebado took itself too seriously for many viewers, while employee Club has groped on aspects as simple as its basic principle. With two episodes currently available, I like to play everything finds a good balance between slice of life and sport.
Mizushima Ryo and his friends stumbled into the badminton club one day and never left. Now that they are nearing the end of middle school, they must decide which high school they will go to. Ryo is offered an athletic scholarship to a reputable high school, but this perfect chance doesn’t go as planned. His family disapproves of the idea; they don’t want him to depend on his physical abilities, so he decides to enter the school based on his grades.
With a first episode focused on school life, episode 2 moves on to badminton. In a practice intended to test the abilities of Ryo and other hopefuls on the team, audiences get a glimpse of each character’s skill level and personality. While I like to play everything doesn’t immediately look like anything special, it has the potential to be a solid sports anime.
Cheer Boys is a remarkably mature anime about male cheerleaders
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