I am not an active person. I used to detest PE classes, because I perform below-average in most sports (except badminton, which I did enjoy enough to not suck at). I wanted to play with my more athletic classmates, but as jock mentality goes, they do not want wimps fumbling the ball around in a loose game of basketball.
But that doesn’t mean I hate sports. If anything, I got a kick out of Slam Dunk’s >9000 runs, because it was quality entertainment. It managed to make basketball look twice enjoyable, and the protagonists gave everything they got for the game. The scene where Akagi refuses to stay on the bench with a bad ankle injury because this might be the last game he would ever play is forever etched into my memory. Srsbzns, guys.
After that memorable experience with Slam Dunk, I did not hunt down sports anime on my own. Maybe it’s because I thought that all sports shows had the same slow pacing as Slam Dunk. It makes for good weekly watching, but when I’m catching up on, say, Major, it would be a long long road ahead. I might try Major in the future, but I’ll have to level up on lighter baseball shows.
These are some sports anime that I really enjoyed.
Bamboo Blade was the first real sports anime I tried out after all those years. And i was surprised–Bamboo Blade was a light, comedic affair (there weren’t overlong tournament arcs), and I stayed for the girls beyond the initial kendo hook. The kendo club was having fun, not just with kendo, but with themselves.
My favorite character was Tamaki. Being someone who grew up to a sentai show, Tamaki did not just love Blade Braver–she breathed it with her very heart and soul. Despite her initial aloof nature, she opened up to the team and became a true friend. Rin is also one great rival and deserves her own post.
I do not know a thing about mahjong, but imagine how amazed I was when I checked out Saki. No mahjong experience required, and it was more about the girls and their relationships with each other. I am rather miffed that meganekko Mako is the weakest girl player in her team with the most useless ability in the show. You may have watched a lot of games, but they won’t do if they aren’t professional play!
Overall, Hisa’s “bad wait” playstyle/philosophy took me in, along with her relish for playing. And the tails.
I actually picked up mahjong thanks to this show, but good god I am worse than Kyoutarou.
Taishou Yakyuu Musume
Then there was Taishou Yakyuu Musume. I held out on checking this show, since I’m not that interested in baseball (I used to play RBI Baseball for the NES though). However, the blogosphere had much good things to say about it, and due to me having some free time I managed to check it out. Now, it’s amazing how a ragtag group of girls were driven so hard to improve in baseball, without straying into shounen “this game is all that matters to me” territory. It’s also got the Taishou aesthetic, which is a fascinating era that I wouldn’t mind returning to.
The girls are all pleasing to look at and mesh with each other very well. And despite this being a baseball show, the Koume-stars-in-a-movie one is a much welcome diversion. Sweet romance is sweet!
I guess that sports shows featuring girls perform better with me, as they are more relaxed in their playing. However, I’m eyeing Cross Game and Oofuri next, so let’s see how this turns out.