When you think about anime and manga, sports is probably not the first topic that’ll come to mind. Anime and manga are mostly associated with different fantastical settings and the most famous works could certainly, in one way or the other, be classified as fantasy or a subgenre thereof. Still, sports-themed anime and manga are a thing, and there is a whole world of sports-related works that is quite popular not just in Japan, but also around the world.
In Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, author Frederik L. Schodt argues that sports manga distinguishes itself from American and European sports comics in its focus on bushido-inspired themes and thematic material that uses sports as “a metaphor for human endeavor and the test of the spirit.” Common themes in sports manga include friendship, perseverance, teamwork, sportsmanship, endurance, overcoming obstacles, self-sacrifice, and supokon-kei (or supōtsu-konjō-kei), which are translates literally as “willpower in the sports genre”.
As it is in the real world, association football and basketball are the most popular sports represented in anime and manga, which is why we have decided to deal with one of them in today’s article. In today’s list, you’re we’re going to present to you the 20 best basketball anime and manga series ever. You’ll be getting some basic information about the show and an overview of the synopsis of each of them. If you’re a basketball fan, these series are certainly not something you should skip!
20 Best Basketball Anime & Manga
Original Run: April 7, 2012 – June 30, 2015
Episodes: 75 (+3 OVA)
Created By: Tadatoshi Fujimaki
Genres: Comedy, Sports
The story takes place in contemporary Japan. The Teikō Junior High basketball team rose to distinction by demolishing basketball teams within Japan, winning the junior high Nationals for three consecutive years. Teikō’s last basketball team, in particular, was made up of extraordinary players who towered above all others in such a way that they have been called the Generation of Miracles. They are Ryōta Kise (who can copy every move directly), Shintarō Midorima (a 3-point expert whose range is the entire field of play), Daiki Aomine (a gifted technician with great athleticism), Atsushi Murasakibara (a huge center and defensive expert with very quick reflexes) and the team captain Seijūrō Akashi (who can foresee almost every move and throw the opponent off the shelf with his game). All five now play at different high schools.
However, there was also a sixth player, who was respected by the Generation of Miracles and who was used repeatedly in games. It’s Tetsuya Kuroko, who couldn’t keep up with the other five players athletically and technically, but turned out to be a brilliant passer, which was his specialty. Due to his inconspicuous presence (not only) on the field and very fast, short passing games, he was able to act almost like a phantom and thus enabled unusual moves; he also specialized in steals. The disadvantage of his technique, however, was that this effect wore off over the course of the game and the opponents were finally able to get used to it.
In contrast to the other five players of the Generation of Miracles, Kuroko made a conscious decision not to go to high school with a significant basketball team. He also had a strong animosity towards Midorima. Last year, however, Kuroko had to experience the team breaking up bit by bit at Teikō Junior High, as the talents of the other five blossomed more and more. In the end they had no more equal opponents, so that the mutual competition became the only motivation for the players, who also changed more and more in character and at the same time lost their love for the game.
Team play was seen more and more as an obstacle and everyone wanted to outdo the other, which is why they also joined different high schools. Kuroko, on the other hand, believes that this is the wrong way to play basketball, which is why he went to Seirin High School, whose team-play basketball he watched at a game. There he meets Taiga Kagami, who is the same age and who previously lived in the USA for several years.
Like Kuroko, Kagami is a passionate basketball player, also extremely athletic and technically gifted. Kagami wants to become the best basketball player in Japan and also beat the Generation of Miracles. Kuroko is impressed and decides to support Kagami. It turns out that the stronger Kuroko’s teammate is, the more effectively he acts and increases the teammate’s performance. Kuroko sees himself as a shadow that lets the light of the respective player shine more strongly.
The Seirin’s young basketball team then plays during the Winter Cup against all five teams that have members of the Generation of Miracles in their ranks and can ultimately beat them with team play and the individual class of their own teammates, with Kagami having a decisive role as a team ace each time. Over time, Kuroko also changed the attitude of his five old teammates, who gradually accept that they cannot act successfully on their own in the long run, respect their own team members and have to involve them in their game. Also in terms of character, the Generation of Miracles changes after the other five players regain their love for the game and accept each other again as they did at the beginning of their time at Teikō Middle School.
Original Run: October 21, 2018 – February 27, 2021
Created By: Jyotirmoy Saha
Genres: Sports, Drama
Two years before the start of the series, Roberto “Coach B” Sebastián, Sr.’s son, Roberto “Basti” Sebastián, Jr., was killed by a gunman from a large syndicate which brought down the Barangay 143’s Powerhouse team and led to today’s events.
Bren Park, a player for a Korean basketball team, had lost recently his family in a tragic accident during a snowstorm in South Korea that led him to quit basketball. However, following a revelation that he was his mother’s child to a Filipino man, Bren went to Manila to search for him. Along the way, he joined a local basketball team, the Puzakals of Barangay 143.
Original Run: July 1, 2011 – September 24, 2011
Created By: Sagu Aoyama
Genres: Comedy, Sports
Subaru Hasegawa was, from an early age, considered to be a basketball talent and a promising point guard. He was even noticed by the scouts of foreign youth leagues, but the guy was determined to build a career in his homeland and entered the Nanashiro Private High School, having received a sports scholarship. Here, the young star was trapped by a stroke of fate – because of the dark story with the team captain and the coach’s young daughter, the basketball club was closed for a year, and its members gained the dubious fame of lolicons.
But Subaru did not go around in upset feelings for long – Aunt Mihoshi was already waiting at home and offered him the opportunity to train the newly created girls’ team in her elementary school! Under a barrage of convincing arguments, the respectful nephew agreed. So, the aspiring coach arrived at Keixin Academy, where five sixth-graders were waiting for him.
The energetic Tomoka, the precociously developed Airi, the gamer and tomboy Maho, the romantic Saki and the simple-minded Hinata all met their “sensei” as he arrived. Subaru barely convinced the girls that they are not going to be a parody of anime stereotypes (as they greeted him in such clothes), but rather learn to play basketball. The positions of the heroines in the team are as follows: Saki (148 cm) – point guard, Tomoka (142 cm) – small forward, Hinata (131 cm) – shooting guard, Maho (145 cm) – power forward, Airi (168 cm) – center forward.
Ahiru no Sora
Original Run: October 2, 2019 – September 30, 2020
Created By: Takeshi Hinata
Sora Kurumatani, who lacks basketball’s most important asset, has struggled with his small stature since he began to love the game. Despite the lack of this beneficial aspect, Sora’s unwavering will never allowed his small stature to dictate his ability to play, to firmly believe in doing his best, and to persistently train to prove his abilities. Hoping to grant his mother’s wishes, Sora enters Kuzuryuu High School to become a member of the basketball club and participate in tournaments wholeheartedly.
However, Sora is disappointed to learn that the boy’s basketball team is nothing more than a retreat for punks who are not interested in the sport. Sora also learns that the brothers Chiaki and Momoharu Hanazono whom he meets have also lost their once fiery motivation to play. Determined to revive the basketball team, Sora challenges the boys to a game against him in which his quick feet and swift movements overwhelm the group. Gradually affected by Sora’s formidable skills, exertion, and relentless devotion to basketball, the boys unexpectedly regain their exhausted passion for the game.
Original Run: February 5, 2005 – September 26, 2007
Created By: Takehiko Inoue
Genres: Science-fiction, Sports
Hideyoshi, nicknamed “Tono” by his two friends, is a talented young basketball player, very fast although not very tall. He and his two friends are quite poor and have to play against other people in the neighborhood to earn some money and buy food. The space league is being set up between the greatest Goran players (aliens, in human form but green, blue, yellow or even pink, with two pointed horns on the temples) and the Terrans. Tono will very quickly be contacted to play in this league, the opportunity for him to get out of his current difficult situation!
Original Run: January 7, 2020 – May 26, 2020
Created By: Masataka Nishikawa
Genres: Drama, Sports
The anime is centered on a group para-athletes who all meet an outcast sports scientist named Ren Narita. The anime is divided into four stories about four different sports: wheelchair basketball, track and high jump, goalball, and paralympic swimming. The story dealing with basketball tells the story of how Kai works hard in order to become a successful and cool basketball player, just as his brother Shun.
Original Run: April 8, 2003 – September 29, 2003
Created By: Hiroki Yagami
Aikawa Kazuhiko was the captain of the prestigious Tendoji High School basketball team. He moved to a new city to attend Mizuho High School and joined his basketball team. The Mizuho High Basketball Team is far from prestigious, in fact, it’s gone now. Still, it must be said that Kazuhiko’s persistence, passion and basketball skills inspired other members of the dysfunctional basketball team to prepare and start training again.
The aim is to participate in national tournaments where all young basketball players meet their opponents to compete with them. The story of the youth of the five protagonists: Fujiwara Takumi, Ishii Tsutomu, Dobashi Kenji, Miura Ranmaru and Aikawa Kazuhiko has just started the lives of the Mizuho high school basketball team.
Original Run: October 16, 1993 – March 23, 1996
Episodes: 101 (+ 5 films)
Created By: Takehiko Inoue
Genres: Comedy, Coming-of-Age, Sports
Slam Dunk tells the story of Hanamichi Sakuragi, whose evolution as a basketball player and as a person is the central theme of the anime. Sakuragi is a troubled 15-year-old and gang member with an impressive record of love rejections behind him. At the beginning of the series, Hanamichi does not know anything about sports or more than anything about basketball.
At the beginning of the play, we see Sakuragi, a fearsome and violent high school bully, newcomer to Shōhoku High School and dejected by his latest sentimental failure, which he attributes to the fact that his last girlfriend was in love with a basketball player which provokes him a deep rejection of that sport. Everything changes when he meets Haruko Akagi, whom he instantly falls in love with and whom he tries to impress through basketball thanks to her great stature and surprising innate physical condition.
However, Sakuragi is completely unaware of the rules of this sport, as well as completely lacking in technique. This situation is aggravated by his arrival in the team, when he realizes the enormous basketball skills of Kaede Rukawa, also a first-year player and with whom Haruko is in love.
Sakuragi ends up getting into a fight with Rukawa which causes a misunderstanding with Haruko and consequently, reinforces his hatred of basketball, which reaches extreme levels when he unintentionally provokes the captain of the basketball team, Takenori Akagi, Haruko’s brother. Akagi, passionate about this sport, hearing Hanamichi say that basketball is for losers, considers it a serious insult and challenges Hanamichi to a match in which if he manages to score at least one basket he will win the game.
Hanamichi with many difficulties, manages to score and Akagi recognizes his defeat, Haruko who was present surprises Hanamichi with the news that the captain of the basketball team with whom he has just faced is nothing more and nothing less than her older brother, so Hanamichi now also tries to impress Captain Akagi, but Sakuragi intends to flatter him with gifts and informing him of things the captain likes, but more importantly, he must show his tenacity.
Once in the team, Hanamichi Sakuragi must learn everything related to basketball from the basics, just at the arrival of the regional high school tournament in Kanagawa, but at the same time, Rukawa will also enter the team which will start their rivalry. As the play progresses, Sakuragi will try to rival him despite his low level and this rivalry will serve as a push to improve progressively throughout the manga.
He eventually begins to really appreciate basketball, perhaps the only activity in which he excels outside of fights and although he still wants to impress Haruko at all costs, this will cease to be his only motivation. The incorporation of Sakuragi will make the Shohoku team stronger, which, led by Akagi, will face the Kanagawa tournament for the first time and later the national one with real possibilities of success.
With the passing of history, a young man who will befriend Hanamichi will join the Ryota Miyagi team since, like him, he has problems in love with a student from his school, being in his case a young woman named Ayako who would also join the team as an assistant, but with a strong history of violence since he was only able to join the team due to a fight he had with another young man who would also join the team, Hisashi Mitsui who in his youth was the most valuable player in high school and who He became a criminal after not being able to overcome a knee injury that kept him from basketball.
Original Run: April 3, 2009 – October 1, 2009
Created By: Tetsuya Hayashi
Genres: Action, Mecha, Sports
In a distant galaxy there is a planet called Earthdash and in whose orbit there is a giant moon, on which the higher society in the city of Mooneyes is supposed to live, while life on the planet is quite poor and the entire landscape is a huge slum. Everyone dreams of being able to live in this glittering world with progressive supplies. Meanwhile, in the lower world, large, manned, human-controlled robots have prevailed, which do the heavy daily work, but at the same time also serve the police and compete in basketball games.
For the protagonist, Dan JD, these robots, which are called Bigfoots, are but a nuisance, along with his life. Not only was his sister Coco badly injured by one of them in the legs during her childhood, so that she now has to sit in a wheelchair, they also play in the only basketball league that good human players cannot participate in because they are simply too small for the robots. At the same time, the games are broadcast on all TVs in the city in order to keep the population under control.
Dan uses the opportunity to go on forays with his gang, during which he tries to destroy as many televisions as possible. While he is being chased by law enforcement officers on his skateboard, the others plunder the destroyed televisions and then sell the parts to a dealer. This is how they get money and, at the same time, Dan calms his conscience by doing the greatest possible damage to the league. He wears a mask during his actions and has made a name for himself with a far-reaching reputation as the Dunk Mask.
His mask, on the other hand, is a living animal called Spanky, which can both speak and appears to be insatiable, as it simultaneously eats Dan’s new gift for Coco when she refuses it – even though it is a conspecific. Frustrated during a lonely round of basketball, he meets Miyuki Ayukawa, who persuades him to control a Bigfoot built by her and her grandfather. He can get enthusiastic about it very quickly and rushes the vehicle until it crumbles into its parts when the next morning comes. Without going into any further background, she gave him three tickets to one of the games.
It is here that he runs across Sela D Miranda for the first time, who sells cold drinks and labels him, along with his gang, as lower creatures. However, he is very frustrated looking at the game. The entire event is more like a marble game, which is so much upgraded for the television broadcasts that it looks like extreme action. During his outburst of anger, he is stopped by Spanky and wakes up some time later when Miyuki has entered the stadium.
Remembering his childhood with Miyuki again, they both run outside. He also uses the Bigfoot that Miyuki has repaired and made available to him to put on a big show as an uninvited guest. At this, the whole audience, including Sela, fell into full enthusiasm, so that the stadium collapsed. Dan is eventually stopped by regular player Iceman Hotty and ends up in jail, where he is sentenced to a year imprisonment. On the day of his release, he finds that his way of playing basketball has spread like wildfire and has become a legend.
So his fans pounce on him and he has numerous admirers. When he arrives at Coco’s apartment, his sister quickly brings him back down to earth. With his fame, he not only inherited the title of legend, but also a legendary amount of debt, as he was charged for the destroyed stadium and the failures of various entrepreneurs. So Dan first tries to work for Miyuki as a “Bigfoot courier”, but quickly realizes that he has got tough competition. Among others, Sela D Miranda represents a new rival for him, to whom he is initially inferior. During their argument, they are attacked by an unknown third party who manages to severely damage the two rivals’ Bigfoots without revealing his identity.
Original Run: December 18, 2002 – March 26, 2003
Created By: Hiroyuki Asada
In college, Akane Tachibana, a basketball player in his spare time, rubs shoulders with Hitonari Hiiragi, son of a coach and brother of a great university basketball player, during a school match. The latter becomes violent against the referee and the match is declared a loss for the Hiiragi team. At the end of the tournament, Tachibana, seeing that Hiiragi is hit by his teammates, but especially that they are obstructing his passage, strikes a drop kick on the faces of these players.
Even if everything opposes them, Hiiragi and Tachibana have one thing in common: it is to stop basketball after college. Only, that day, their life took a turn and they both find themselves in the same school: Kouzu, whose basketball team is almost non-existent. Little by little, Akane Tachibana is finding talented players who had given up basketball and together they form the most diverse basketball team that has ever existed.
Thus begins the story of the Kouzu team, with several goals: that of winning the inter-high school tournament for the whole team, that of showing his father and his brother how strong he is for Hiiragi and that of one day overtake Hiiragi in basketball, who is as good as him, for Tachibana.
Original Run: October 4, 1981 – December 26, 1982
Created By: Noburu Rokuda
The hero of the story is a teenage boy named Kappei Sakamoto, who is a high school student with amazing athletic abilities who joins the basketball team of Seirin High School and quickly becomes one of the most skilled players. Kappei has one unusual handicap for a basketball player – his height; he stands not even one meter tall.
His Achilles’ heel is female undergarments; he has a particular interest in white panties, and is even more enthusiastic about joining the basketball team when he discovers that the team’s female coach, Coach Natsu, wears white panties (although his inventive attempts to sneak a peek at said panties usually result in a physical beatdown from the hot-tempered coach). Eventually, Kappei’s athletic prowess extends beyond basketball, and he tries out for – and excels at – every sport the school offers.
In the first episode, Kappei meets and becomes enamored with Akane Aki, a sweet, pretty girl who is quite athletic herself (she later joins the school’s ping-pong team) and signs on as assistant coach of Seirin’s basketball team. Much to Kappei’s delight, not only is Akane pretty, but she also wears white panties, and Kappei sets his sights on winning her heart.
Kappei eventually moves in with Akane and her family after his parents (who are rarely around) leave for the United States. However, Kappei has an unusual rival for Akane’s heart – Akane’s dog, Seiichiro, who has often fantasized about marrying his owner and, resenting Kappei, immediately seeks to sabotage his relationship with Akane through various tricks. Seiichiro can also speak, although only Kappei can understand him.
Original Run: 1999 – present
Created By: Takehiko Inoue
Tomomi Nomiya has just been expelled from her high school. Passionate about basketball, he has not played since the motorcycle accident in which Natsumi Yamashita, his passenger, lost the use of his legs. His exclusion plays into Hisanobu Takahashi’s game, giving him the field to win as the leader of the high school basketball team.
While visiting Natsumi, Tomomi meets Kiyoharu Togawa, a leg amputee due to bone disease who has excluded himself from his own handi-basketball team, which he considers mediocre. It was then that Hisanobu was the victim of a serious traffic accident, hit by a truck while riding on a stolen bicycle. He then goes to the hospital for rehabilitation, but does not want to believe that he will have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Girl Got Game / Power!!
Original Run: 1999 – 2002
Created By: Shizuru Seino
Kyo Aizawa is a girl whose father is crazy about basketball. His dream was to get to play in the NBA, but because of his injury, he couldn’t. So when they moved, he went with his daughter, Kyo, at Seisyu High School, famous for two things: the cute girls ’school uniforms, and the boys’ fast and wild basketball team. When Kyo got her uniform, she was shocked to find that she hadn’t gotten the girls ‘cute school uniforms but the boys’ uniforms.
Only then did she realize his father’s plan: to portray Kyo as a son so she could play for the high-end basketball team. Instead of focusing on basketball, the story focuses mostly on Kyo and how she’s slowly starting to like her roommate Chiharu Eniwa. While Kyo tries to keep her true identity a secret, Chiharu eventually finds out the truth.
Original Run: April 12, 2021 – present
Created By: Kōji Miura
The series centers on Taiki Inomata, a student at Eimei Junior and Senior High who is a member of the boys’ badminton team. Every morning, he practices with his classmate and crush, Chinatsu Kano, who plays on the girls’ basketball team. However, Chinatsu moves in with Taiki’s family when her parents leave Japan to work abroad. With Chinatsu now living with him, Taiki tries to slowly build a relationship with her as they both strive to reach the national championship with their respective teams.
Original Run: May 22, 2002 – September 3, 2003
Created By: Kōji Seo
Ogata Natsuki loves to play basketball. His passion for the game and dedication compensate for his small stature. He is encouraged by his classmates in junior high to try out for the best basketball team in high school, Fujiwara Academy. After his tryout, he meets Tachibana Mitsuki, the manager of the St. Mariannu High School basketball team.
Ogata watches St. Mariannu’s tryout game against Fujiwara Academy. After one of St. Mariannu’s players gets injured, he decides to fill in for the player so that the game can continue. Afterwards, he learns that Fujiwara Academy’s coach has named him to the team. After seeing the difference in sportsmanship between the teams, Ogata decides to visit St. Mariannu and try to help them defeat Fujiwara Academy.
Original Run: 1994 – 2000
Created By: Yuriko Nishiyama
Toru Naruse is a denied boy for sports. After trying baseball and soccer, the boy tries his hand at a new activity, basketball, certain of being discarded anyway. He is incredibly taken, even if only as a reserve. Happy and satisfied, he goes to a sportswear shop where he meets an old elementary school friend, Kusuda, a very skilled basketball player. The girl, upon hearing the news of her admission to the school club, is happy to take him to a street basketball playground, the Three Men’s Hoop, where she meets Shu of the Three Men, the creators of the pitch.
Toru, affectionately called Narucho by Kusuda, is passionate about street basketball, so much so that he forms a team with Kusuda and two other guys: Kosuke Ozaki, a street thug with a lot of physical power, and Masahiro Sawamura, a slender boy with great dribbling skills. The four will nearly win a national tournament and Toru will become a successful starter on his school basketball team.
Original Run: April 11, 2018 – May 12, 2021
Created By: Atsushi Namikiri
Tired of being constantly compared to his talented older brother, Riku, Raimu decides to surpass him by beating him at basketball.
Kuroko’s Basketball The Movie: Last Game
Release Date: March 18, 2017
Running Time: 90 minutes
Created By: Tadatoshi Fujimaki
Genres: Comedy, Sports
The United States street basketball team named Jabberwock came to Japan and played a friendly match with the Japanese team, but after the Japanese team suffered a crushing defeat, the members of the Jabberwock team began to mock Japanese basketball. Their comments angered Riko’s father, so he assembled a team of five members of the Generation of Miracles plus Tetsuya Kuroko and Taiga Kagami, called Vorpal Swords, to carry out a Revenge Match against Jabberwock.
Onagawa Chuu Baske Bu: 5-nin no Natsu
Release Date: August 25, 2017
Running Time: 31 minutes
Created By: Konosuke Uda
Based on the true story of the Onagawa Junior High girl’s basketball team. The team’s numbers and staff are depleted after the Touhoku earthquake, leaving only five regulars.
Mitsu x Mitsu Drops
Original Run: 2004 – 2006
Created By: Kanan Minami
Yuzuru is a fifteen-year-old girl attending her first year at Houjou Academy. At her summer job, she met a troublesome rich boy, Renge Kai, who attends the same school as her. Kai belongs to the Kugeka, a class open only to the rich students of Houjou.
At the end of summer break, she learns that she has become Kai’s “Honey.” This nickname is given to all the students from the regular class who are chosen by the Kugeka to become their assistants so that the rich boys can succeed without any problems. The advantage of being a Honey is that all school fees are covered.
Although Yuzuru’s family has some financial problems, she does not want to accept her role as Kai’s Honey. But the only way to quit is to leave the school… What is she going to do?
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we gave you all the information you were looking for! See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!