Anime and manga are written and animated media that have been part of Japanese subculture since time immemorial. Writers have used these art forms to express issues affecting society in a non-confrontational and appealing way, such as using sports themes. This article highlights the most captivating anime and manga series with a tennis theme.
Cartoons and animated stories highlight everything from everyday things to outlandish and technologically complex topics, as there is almost always an audience for everything. Sports themes appeal to the masses and are widely discussed. Over the years, there have been several tennis anime and manga, and here are the most captivating of them.
Being an underdog going against the odds to succeed, and training and competing in tournaments are common themes in tennis-themed anime and manga. Others use the sport as the protagonist’s backstory, but focus on other aspects of their lives, such as love and relationships.
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Best tennis anime
Based on their quality, production value, and plot-related information, this article ranks the best tennis anime and manga series from different historical periods.
Aim for the ace!
The author, Sumika Yamamoto, tells the story of Hiromi Oka, a high school student who wants to become a professional tennis player like Reika Ryuzaki, her idol. The show highlights her struggle with anxiety and unrequited love, and finding strength through her friends and coach to become one of the best players in the entire world. The series ran on Nippon TV from October 14, 1978 to March 31, 1979.
Baby Steps is a 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 hugely impressed 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 advance 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 the death of her parents. Two yakuza arrive at her door one day to retrieve the 250 million yen that her estranged brother Leyasu took from them. Miyuki agrees to pay off the debt by becoming a tennis pro, because if she fails, she will be forced into prostitution.
This manga series was written and illustrated by Osamu Ishiwata. Published by Shogakukan from August 1993 to February 1999, it told the stories of Ryo Takagi after quitting his music career after a motorcycle gang attack to participate in sports. It is a sequel to Ishiwata’s first series called BB, Burning Blood.
The house of Ikkoku is a romantic comedy from the 1980s about a group of inconsistent people living in a boarding school in Tokyo. Yusaku Godai, a poor unlucky student, and Kyoko Otonashi, a young boarding house manager recently widowed, gradually develop a relationship.
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However, he is completely smitten when a tennis coach named 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 March 26, 1986 to March 2, 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 that aired between October 2001 and March 2005. The hero of the story is Ryoma Echizen, a tennis expert and son of Nanjiro Echizen, also known as the Samurai. He returns to Japan from America to attend 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
Konomi’s sequel to the first series, known in Japan as The New Prince of Tennis, follows Ryoma at the U-17 High School Representatives Selection Camp. TV Tokyo aired the thirteen-episode anime series from January to March 2012. A new version 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 all-female soft tennis club at Shiratama High School. Unfortunately, she soon discovers that she and her impressive teammates are wrong. But with enough determination, they continue to play and achieve their dreams. The anime by Xebec premiered on April 7, 2011 on Tokyo MX TV and ended on June 24, 2011.
This anime series from 8bit Studio was written and directed by Kazuki Akane and aired from October 10 to December 26, 2019 on TBS. Maki Katsuragi joins a new high school, where his friend Toma forces him to join the boys’ soft tennis club by promising to pay him.
However, with his family broken and fighting, Maki can’t keep up with his teammates, who later step in to protect him and his mother from his abusive father. This coming-of-age tale deals with typical and unusual teenage challenges in an entertaining way.
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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 fast-paced retelling of the stories of four girls from the Kameido Institute tennis club. However, the synopsis is not centered on the sport, but on the antics of the main characters, 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 realm. It premiered in February 2001 and ran until January 2004. The 26-episode anime TV series aired on SEA Animax from May 20, 2003 to November 11, 2003. It’s a good watch, even if the story doesn’t benefit tennis.
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This coming-of-age story follows four girls, Tanaka Kinako, Suzuki Ayako, Sato Kurumi, and Nishiarai-Taishi Nishi from 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 is Teekyu’s tennis rivals. Although 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 2020 Tokyo Summer Paralympic Games. Each episode features a Paralympic sport in collaboration with significant players in the manga and anime industry. The installment of Wheelchair Tennis aired on August 25, 2018 in Japan and November 11, 2018 in the United States. It features Shingo Kunieda, the four-time Paralympic medalist.
Tennis anime on Netflix
A Chinese drama based on Prince of Tennis was produced by Netflix in 2019 under the alternative title Forge On, Young Men. Their catalog also features the Trans Arts anime series directed by Takayuki Hamana. The 178 episodes aired on TV Tokyo from October 10, 2001 to March 30, 2005.
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Which anime is similar to Prince of Tennis?
This 2001 anime is one of the most well-written stories, addressing societal issues against the backdrop of high school tennis competitions. With its comedic and dramatic themes, Prince of Tennis is similar to anime such as:
- Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko’s Basketball)
- Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting! (Will to fight)
- Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
- Area no Kishi (The Knight of the Area)
- Baby steps
What does China call anime?
Animation produced in China is usually called donghua. Although not as popular as the Japanese art form, donghua embraces the same animation elements and incorporates aspects of Chinese tradition. Donghua also uses sports themes a lot.
Is there an anime for every sport?
There is actually a Japanese cartoon about every sport. The anime world includes sports in most movies, from basketball and soccer to bowling and ping pong. In some cases, the films use sports as a background story for other themes such as love and relationships.
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When most people hear about anime, they imagine fantasy and mystery shows, but sports are a common theme. Tennis anime and manga series are exciting because of the intense competitions and the incredible feats the characters perform. These shows make you feel like you’re at Wimbledon, but you can also interact with the characters away from the court, even as friends.
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