True basketball fans probably have their favorite movies, but what about anime? You’ll be surprised how interesting and action-packed these Japanese cartoons are.
With lovable protagonists and many heartfelt plots, these series inspire basketball fans to come together and feel a host of emotions.
Basketball anime is less popular than many other types, but there are so many amazing basketball-related animes, you have to give these a watch.
These shows pay tribute to this popular American sport in a truly unique way. Asian basketball anime focuses on triumph, perseverance, hard work, and the power of collective effort to win the game.
There are many fun sci-fi series too all about bigfoot and alien basketball too, so if you want to watch something entertaining, make sure not to skip any of the recommendations on this list.
I’m sharing the top 10 basketball animes of all time so you can discover some of the classic gems and some of the recent inspiring and fun tales of perseverance and love of the game. There’s enough variety to interest even the most knowledgeable basketball fan.
Best basketball anime
The reason why people love basketball anime is that the Japanese animation style is full of cool, colorful artwork. The illustration style is unique compared to 3D animation and Western types of cartoons.
Older anime has a rougher depiction of the game but modern anime shows a more fluid playing style, so you feel like you’re watching a game or movie.
Also, let’s not forget that some anime is a bit ridiculous, especially when it comes to the plot but that’s what makes it special.
Are you familiar with all of the best animes about basketball?
Let’s look at the top 10.
1. Ahiru no Sora (2020) (Diomedea Studio)
Protagonist Sora Kurumatani loves basketball, but he faces one major obstacle – his short height. He has an unwavering desire to become a basketball player on his high school team. Sora promised his mother that he will win a tournament and he doesn’t want to disappoint.
But his team members are not motivated for the sport. Sora doesn’t really fit in with the so-called “punks” and misfits, but he wants to put the team back together. He meets two brothers he challenges them to a match to shows off his skills. His unstoppable drive inspires the misfit brothers to start playing well again. Then, he aims to drive his team to extraordinary performance.
Will he succeed?
The story is an inspiring tale about players who overcome obstacles and play basketball tournaments.
Check out this clip of Sora showing his mad basketball skills to his uninterested teammates:
2. Basquash! (2009) (Satelight Studio)
This is an out-of-this-world story about a planet called Earthdash which is a futuristic and strange version of Earth. The inhabitants of this world can see a faraway city on the moon called Mooneyes, which is much more technologically advanced. Bigfoot Basketball is the most popular sport there and earthlings want in on it.
On Earthdash, in the city of Rollingtown, a young boy named Dan JD has an interest in basketball. But it’s not just any type of basketball – it’s called Bigfoot Basketball and the players face off against huge Bigfoot Robots to play fun, fast-paced matches. This new game is called Basquash and players will face off to become champions.
This is a great anime for those of you interested in out-of-this-world plots. After all, young players facing off against robots makes for an exciting story.
Want to see some action clips from this anime? Check out this fan video for some of the action:
3. Mitsu x Mitsu Drops (2004) (Sho-comi)
Mitsu x Mitsu Drops (Honey & Honey Drops in English) is shoujo sports anime, with a story that revolves around basketball. The story unfolds at Houjou academy which is a really strange place that runs on a master and slave system. Basically, it’s a rich vs poor system where the poor assist the rich.
The academy’s star player Kai Renge ends up being master to a poor female student Hagino Yuzuru who can’t afford to attend the expensive academy and has to act as his assistant. The catch is that the two grow fond of each other but if Kai loses games, he will lose Hagino too. Can they have a happy ending?
This story combines an interesting basketball narrative with a romantic storyline between the master and slave. Kai has to play his best to be able to keep his honey Yuzuru by his side.
Check out a fan video featuring the main protagonists:
4. Slam Dunk (1993) (Toei Animation)
This is one of the most beloved basketball animes of all time and a pioneer of the sports anime genre. It follows a hot-tempered schoolboy, Hanamichi Sakuragi, who wants to find love after getting rejected about fifty times. He initially has no interest in basketball, but he meets a girl Haruko who likes the sport. In order to impress her, he takes up basketball and puts his heart and soul into becoming good enough to make her fall for him.
The anime is full of basketball action which is portrayed realistically. It also focuses on the intensity of human emotions in both love and sports. The protagonist and his misfit teammates must navigate the sport and become winners to impress the school. If you like stories about growth and personal development, you’ll like this classic a lot.
The romantic storyline serves as a nice addition to this realistic portrayal of the high school basketball scene. Since Hanamichi isn’t your classic lovable hero, he’s going to have to work hard to gain the love of his girlfriend and the audience watching the show.
Watch the opening minutes of this classic:
5. Barangay 143 (2014) (ASI Animation Studios)
Barangay is one of the most underrated basketball anime series that aired on a Filipino channel. It focuses on the perspectives of Bren Park, a Korean in the Philippines with an interest in street basketball player who joins a popular street basketball team.
As he learns more about the Filipino culture, he realizes the power of sport in bringing people together. The team members all live pretty ordinary lives but when they start playing streetball, they realize how passionate they are about the sport. But Bren must also find out who his real father is along the way and the anime explores deeper themes about family, and how a team can become a new family.
This kind of family drama story is heartwarming to watch and what makes it different is that it follows a Filipino style of anime and offers new perspectives.
Check out the first episode:
6. Breakers (2020) (Albacrow Studios)
The show focuses on disabled and physically challenged players of different sports, including wheelchair basketball, track and field, high jump, swimming, and goalball. These para-athletes are inspiring to others, and they never give up on their love of sport, even when facing challenges.
Protagonist Ren Narita is a sport-scientist but also an outcast. But what the world doesn’t know is that disability is not a setback for motivated athletes.
The opening episode of the series is all about a team of wheelchair basketball players and showcases the triumphs and struggles of this unique team. But the story will unfold to reveal the true power of determination and there is a story about villains weaved in there too.
Check out this fan video with some of the scenes from the series:
7. I’ll/CKBC (2002-2003) (M.S.C)
This is a basketball anime about a lifelong sports rivalry. Tachibana and Hiiragi are elite basketball players on their respective teams. These two players are always pitted against each other as rivals on opposing teams.
Under unusual circumstances, the two rivals end up on the same team but they both want to be the star player. So, they always try to outplay each other which causes lots of tension and drama in the team. Without letting go of their egos, they can’t perform at their best or play collaboratively. The drama unfolds as they both want to play better and impress.
The series explores relationships on the court and the continued animosity off the court. It includes fans, family, and stressful coaches which perfectly describes the reality of pro basketball.
Watch the trailer first and then dive into this exciting basketball series:
8. Dear Boys (2003) (A.C.G.T Studios)
This story is about Aikawa Kazuhiko, who is the captain of a prestigious high school basketball team. He’s used to excellent results with his team and then he is forced to move to a new town where he joins the Mizuho high school team. Unfortunately, the team is pretty weak, with no prestigious players or results, and this leaves Aikawa very disappointed.
Aikawa must gather all of the uninspired players and teammates and inspire them to start playing again in official tournaments. The story is focused on five protagonists and their journey in the high school basketball scene.
There are some interesting conflicts with rival teams and the show explores the classic high school sports rivalries.
Watch some of the anime’s best moments in this short clip:
9. Buzzer Beater (2005) (TMS Entertainment)
The story is about a homeless young man named Hideyoshi who lives in New York sometime in the future. He plays basketball on the streets, but humans no longer dominate this sport. The world has been taken over by aliens who are far superior physically and they rarely accept humans to join their teams in the Space-League.
Hideyoshi’s team is great, and they manage to become the only human team to compete in this exclusive Space League. The story follows the human team as they struggle to overcome challenges, beat out the aliens, and bring the championship title home to Earth. With the space theme and emotion-packed scenes, this is a fun anime to watch.
This series combines comedy, with fun sci-fi elements and loveable protagonists who want to win at all costs.
Watch a brief intro of the Japanese series and see what it’s like:
10. Ro-Kyu-Bu! (2011)
In this light and playful comedy series, the producers combined basketball anime and loli. After a strange scandal and a ban on playing, ex-basketball player Hasegawa Subaru now has to coach a girls’ team. Subaru feels like he only has bad luck on his side but he has an opportunity to turn things around.
He has to teach these young sixth-grader girls all the fundamentals of basketball and help them win matches against better school teams.
The series is cutesy and combines Kawaii elements, but it still manages to capture the enjoyment of learning to play basketball. As the young girls progress with their skills and become more competitive, Subaru re-discovers his passion for the game.
See a clip of the girls playing basketball:
If you like anime and basketball, then these shows are the perfect way to spend time. They combine the action of basketball with many heartwarming stories about love, friendship, comradery, and well, even aliens.
Now that you’ve got a list of must-watch basketball anime series, you can start binging until the late hours of the night.