The genre of sports anime is growing in popularity. Series like Haikyu!! and Prince of Tennis have made fans cheer with as much enthusiasm as sports fans in the real world. With an extensive line of new anime coming out in the genre, it’s surprising the following games have little-to-no screen time. This lack of representation is a shame because these sports would make for some fantastic content. Here are five that deserve new series – and what their hypothetical anime look like.
Ice hockey would serve as a great premise for an anime. There is almost no content in existence about the sport. Though figure skating won out with a popular series called Yuri on Ice, one of the most exciting ice-related games has barely received a consolation prize. Barely is the keyword because one show did come out, earlier this year: Pride of Orange. Unfortunately, it has received little fanfare — not reaching the heights of viewership as other sports anime have.
A series about ice hockey would fall easily into the shonen anime category. The potential story could follow typical shonen tropes. Perhaps, the main character has no talent in anything, until he discovers that he makes a fine goalie, stopping pucks with pinpoint accuracy. Hockey is also a fast-paced and rough sport, which would allow for intense art to depict the matches throughout the plot as the team skates their way to glory. Since hockey is one of the rare sports that permits the occasional fight, there could be aggressive scenes that add tension to the overall show. Friendships would be forged, teeth would get knocked out and drama would ensue. It would be a series that writes itself. Considering the ever-growing popularity of anime in North America, the NHL may even oblige to being a sponsor.
Bobsledding seems like an unlikely sport to feed a whole series. Still, the anime industry has a habit of taking even the most obscure stories and turning them into elaborate plots. An anime about bobsledding would be no different, following a quartet of friends whose dream is to make it to the Olympics.
Bobsledding is like car racing on ice, literally. A bobsled can reach almost 100 miles per hour, and such speed is perfect to create tense moments in an anime. Additionally, there could be conflict between teammates, off the ice, as the four crewmembers must learn to work together to achieve their dreams. This anime could be similar in form to Free!, except the water would be frozen solid. Another intriguing idea for the story would be if it were set in the late eighties and the main characters were the proverbial Japanese bobsledding team, who ultimately reached the Olympics. In a bit of nostalgic glory, the characters could meet the Jamaican national team, managed by a character based on John Candy. It would be anime meets Cool Runnings: a winning combination.
Roller derby is a mixture of roller skating and a rough-and-tumble sport. Hockey is not the only contact sport on skates, and roller derby has some of the most formidable athletes viewers could ever see in a rink. However, puzzlingly, the most related manga or anime content is the hazardous fictional sport of motor ball in Battle Angel Alita.
The plot of a roller derby anime could involve a high-strung, sukeban-type (girl delinquent) female lead known for getting into fights and other forms of trouble. One day, she catches the eye of an older woman who was like the female lead when she was younger. The mentor introduces the protagonist to the sport of roller derby. In time, the delinquent girl learns the value of sisterhood and channels her aggressive spirit into a positive avenue — pummeling her opponents in the rink! Such a series could be popular with people who play roller derby and female anime fans, since roller derby athletes are typically women. It’s high time a girl-power roller derby anime is released.
It’s baffling that a uniquely Japanese martial art, aikido, has not had an anime series dedicated to it. Aikido is unlike other forms of fighting because it does not depend on shows of strength, but utilizes the opponent’s momentum against them. Aikido is one of the few martial arts where the attacker’s well-being is one of its main principles.
The main character of this anime could be a kind-hearted and timid boy who, sadly, is bullied and feels that there is no way out of his predicament. One day, while a group of bullies torments him, a kind, older man decides to intervene by politely asking the bullies to stop. When one of the bullies tries to attack him, he not only easily deflects the attack but also sends him flying, body hurdling into a trash can. The same process is repeated with the other arrogant bullies, who are now humiliated that such an older man has defeated them without throwing a single punch. The protagonist, touched by the older man’s actions, wishes to learn about the art of aikido and meets with the other students of the man’s dojo. By learning patience, bodily control, and how to center his mind, the once timid boy becomes confident. He grows to defend himself, without hurting others. This is the essence of aikido and why it deserves a slice-of-life sports anime of its own.
Anime fans hear a lot about non-Japanese people falling in love with aspects of Japanese culture, but what about Japanese citizens who love American culture? It would be interesting to see an anime where a Japanese character falls in love with American society, and what is more American than Texas and bull riding?
Bull riding is so hazardous it has been dubbed, “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports,” but that does not stop the main character of this anime. He not only dreams of living in America, but he especially loves all things country, including the music, food, and, mainly, the sport of bull riding — which he views as the manliest thing in the world. Believe it or not, there is a Japanese bull riding scene, and the hero joins it. The other riders are impressed with his natural talent and he catches the eye of a wealthy American rancher who decides to sponsor him, under one condition. He must move to Texas and live with the sponsor’s family. At first, he is thrilled, but he learns that America is not like what he’s seen in movies or heard in the country songs he loves so much. Nevertheless, he finds a new home in Texas, and thanks to his love of bull riding and desire to become the best, not even culture shock can stop him. It would be a refreshing take for an anime to show America from a Japanese perspective, primarily when it revolves around a sport that only the bravest of athletes can handle.
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