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The 15 best tennis anime and manga to watch right now in 2022
Anime and manga are written and animated media that have been part of Japanese subculture for time immemorial. Writers have used these art forms to express issues affecting society in a non-confrontational and appealing manner, like using sports themes. This article highlights the most captivating anime and manga series with a tennis theme.
Comic strips and animated stories highlight everything from mundane things to outwardly and technologically complex themes, as there's almost always an audience for everything. Sports themes appeal to the masses and are extensively featured. Over the years, there have been several tennis animes and mangas, and here are the most captivating of them.
Being an underdog who goes against the odds to succeed, and training and competing in tournaments are common themes in tennis-themed animes and mangas. Others use the sport as the main character's backstory but focus on other aspects of their lives, like love and relationships.
Best tennis anime
Based on their quality, production value, and plot-related information, this article ranks the finest tennis anime and manga series from different historical periods.
Aim for the Ace!
The writer, Sumika Yamamoto, narrates about Hiromi Oka, a high school student who wants to become a professional tennis player like Reika Ryuzaki, her idol. The show highlights her struggles against anxiety and unrequited love, and finding strength through her friends and coach to become one of the best players worldwide. The series ran on Nippon TV from 14 October 1978 to 31 March 1979.
Baby Steps is manga series drawn and written by Hikaru Katsuki that ran between October 2007 and November 2017. It follows the story of nerdy Eiichiro Maruo, who one day decides to watch the students of the tennis club.
He is immensely captivated by Takuma Egawa and Natsu Takasaki's skills. He decides to invest in the sport despite having no experience and uses his intelligence and analytical skills to progress and beat his opponents to become a professional player. This work has a realistic approach to this sport, technically, physically, and mentally.
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This manga was written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa. It ran from 1993 to 1999, following the story of Miyuki Umino as she struggled to raise her siblings after their parent's death. Two yakuza arrive at her door one day to collect the 250 million yen that her estranged brother Leyasu took from them. Miyuki agrees to offset the debt by becoming a tennis pro, for if she fails, she will be forced into prostitution.
This manga series was written and illustrated by Osamu Ishiwata. It was published by Shogakukan from August 1993 to February 1999, telling the tales of Ryo Takagi after quitting his music career after a biker gang attack to join sports. It is a sequel to Ishiwata's first series called BB, burning blood.
The house of Ikkoku is a 1980s romantic comedy about a group of inconsistent people living in a boarding facility in Tokyo. Yusaku Godai, a poor unlucky student, and Kyoko Otonashi, a young, recently widowed boarding house manager, gradually develop a relationship.
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He is, however, beaten to the punch when a tennis coach called Shun Mitaka, who is rich, handsome and charming, declares his feelings for Kyoko, and she seems taken by him. The show aired on Fuji TV from 26 March 1986 to 2 March 1988.
The Prince of Tennis I
Prince of Tennis is a manga series created by Takeshi Konomi. It was adapted into an animated series of 178 episodes aired between October 2001 and March 2005. The story's hero is Ryoma Echizen, a tennis savant and son of Nanjiro Echizen, aka the Samurai. He returns to Japan from America to attend the Seishun Gakuen College, where he joins the team and pursues the national championship title. It is a beautiful tale of self-discovery and growth.
The Prince of Tennis II
Known in Japan as The New Prince of Tennis, Konomi's sequel to the first series follows Ryoma at the U-17 High School Representatives Selection Camp. TV Tokyo broadcasted the thirteen-episode anime series from January to March 2012. A new rendition called The Prince of Tennis II: U-17 World Cup aired from July to September 2022.
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Ryo Azuchi wrote and illustrated this manga series about Asuna Harukaze, who joined the women's soft tennis club of Shiratama High School. Unfortunately, she soon discovers that she and her impressive teammates are flawed. But, with enough determination, they keep playing and achieve their dreams. The anime by Xebec premiered on 7 April 2011 on Tokyo MX TV and finished on 24 June 2011.
This anime series from 8bit Studio was written and directed by Kazuki Akane and aired from 10 October to 26 December 2019 on TBS. Maki Katsuragi joins a new high school, where his friend Toma compels him to join he boys’ soft tennis club by promising to pay him.
However, with his family broken and fighting, Maki cannot keep up with his teammates, who later intervene to protect him and his mother from his abusive father. This coming-of-age tale addresses typical and unusual teenage challenges entertainingly.
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This title is a pun on the Japanese word for tennis, teikyu. A MAPPA anime series aired on Tokyo MX and Crunchyroll between October 2012 and December 2017 after a comedy manga was published on Comic Earth Star in March 2012. The series involves a quick narration of the stories of four girls from the Kameido Institute tennis club. However, the synopsis is not centred on the sport but on the protagonists' antics, but it is still quite enjoyable.
Wataru Yoshizumi wrote a romantic comedy manga series featuring an 8th grader Ayu Tateishi, a tennis club member, and her friend, Nina Sakura, a transfer student who is a trainee witch from the magical kingdom. It premiered in February 2001 and ran until January 2004. The 26-episode anime TV series aired on SEA Animax from 20 May 2003 to 11 November 2003. It makes a good watch, even though the tale does not capitalize on tennis.
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This coming-of-age story tells of four girls, Tanaka Kinako, Suzuki Ayako, Sato Kurumi, and Nishiarai-Taishi Nishi of Usakame High School's tennis club, and their daily lives as they pursue their various dreams. It is a spin-off series of Root's Teekyu, as Usakame are Teekyu's tennis rivals. Though released in 2015, a 12-episode anime adaptation aired in 2016
Animation × Paralympic: Who Is Your Hero?
They are a series of short animated films produced by NHK TV to promote the Tokyo Summer Paralympic Games in 2020. Each episode features a paralympic sport in collaboration with significant manga and anime industry players. The instalment on wheelchair tennis aired on 25 August 2018 in Japan, and 11 November 2018 in the USA. It features Shingo Kunieda, the four-time Paralympic medal winner.
Tennis anime on Netflix
A Chinese drama based on the Prince of Tennis was produced by Netflix in 2019 under the alternative title Forge On, Young Men. Their catalogue also has the Trans Arts anime series directed by Takayuki Hamana. The 178 episodes aired on TV Tokyo from 10 October 2001 to 30 March 2005.
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What anime is similar to Prince of Tennis?
This 2001 anime is one of the most well-written stories, addressing societal issues in the backdrop of high school tennis competitions. With its comedic and dramatic themes, the Prince of Tennis is similar to animes like:
- Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko's Basketball)
- Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting! (Fighting Spirit)
- Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
- Area no Kishi (The Knight in the Area)
- Baby Steps
What does China call anime?
Animation produced in China is generally called donghua. Though not as popular as the Japanese art form, donghua embraces the same animation elements and includes aspects of Chinese tradition. Donghua also uses sports themes extensively.
Is there an anime for every sport?
There is indeed a Japanese comic about every sport. The anime world includes sports in most films, from basketball and soccer to bowling and ping pong. In some instances, the films use sports as a backstory for other themes like love and relationships.
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When most people hear of anime, they imagine fantasy and mystical shows, but sports are a common theme. Tennis anime and manga series are exciting due to the intense competitions and unbelievable feats the characters pull off. These shows make you feel like you're at Wimbledon, but you also get to interact with the characters away from the pitch, even as friends.
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