Let’s get this out of the way now. I love these things. I love the suspense and a swimming anime was my gateway drug into all this, so I’ll start here!
1. ***Yowamushi Pedal – (Number three of my all time top three favorites!) This is an anime about cycling. I didn’t think I was going to be into it…until the third episode and I realized I was in love with every character from the sweet little cinnamon roll wearing glasses, to his rival the up and coming “Ace”, to the upper classmen, and yes…even the bad guys. (And one of them is ultra creepy.) I really enjoyed this one and the show fleshes out each character so well that I forgot who I was rooting for. In the end, I wanted all of them to win. This anime made me cry happy tears of pride. Yes, that’s right, a sports anime made me cry…what is my life!? All the music is really good too and I dare you try NOT to sing the theme song from the Anime that Onoda sings all the time. In fact, all the music is good!
2. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club and Free! Eternal Summer – Swimming obviously! This was the first Anime I ever watched. It attacked me with feelings I wasn’t expecting. There are some strong romantic undertones running between the characters, but no one acknowledges it or even acts in a way that pushes any boundaries. It simply is what it is and the relationships are really about competition, growing stronger, growing up, getting better, and loyalty. These guys love each other, but they’d never say that out loud. Also, because I’m a perv, guys in swimsuits do not hurt this show at all. In fact…I could watch the thing again with the sound turned down. My favorite characters from this Anime are Makoto (because leadership is hard) and then Sosuke from season 2 because who doesn’t love a tortured hot guy?
3. Haikyuu!! – This is a volleyball anime. I didn’t take to this one as strongly as I did the others, but the characters were interesting enough to keep me watching until the end. Mostly I enjoyed the dynamic chemistry between the two main characters. Watching them argue was the best part of the show. The second season just started and I got way too excited over it!
4. Kuroko No Basket – A basketball anime! I was looking for something to fill the void left by Yowamushi Pedal and I took a chance on this one because it had three seasons. Nothing gets that much air time without being good. I didn’t think I was going to like it because I’m not a basketball fan. Oh boy was I wrong! I fell hard for this anime, especially the darker, more focused characters (okay…Kagami and Aomine are the big standouts that I felt like I needed to see every episode.) Kuroko is clearly supposed to be everyone’s favorite, and maybe he was, but not for me. I was heavily invested in Kagami who learned to play basketball in Los Angeles and had some good internal struggles as well as physical ones that he had to push through. The drawback, like in most sports anime, is that one game takes several episodes to finish. But I loved how the series wasn’t afraid to show these guys off the court and doing regular things.
5.) Yuri on Ice – I’m listing this here because at it’s core, this is still about skating…or is it? I’ll save you the trouble of reading what I thought about it. ITSOGOODJUSTFUCKINGWATCHITOMGOMGOMG! Seriously. It was voted Crunchy Roll Anime of the year for a reason.
6.) Chihayafuru – This is a sports anime? Maybe. Probably. I like that it’s a gender neutral thing. I don’t know anything about Karuta. I learned more than I’ll ever need to know watching this show. Mostly I was in it for the team dynamic that developed and the light sprinkling of romance that lingers in the background. Chihaya is living in her more beautiful sister’s shadow and obsessed with the card game that gave her joy when she was a child. She is also holding onto Arata’s ghost and she brings him up at the most inopportune moments. Taichi is my guy for her. He shows so much growth and is there day in and day out. He deserves happiness in whatever form that takes. If it’s Chihaya or just becoming a Karuta master, I support it!