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Take Me Out to the (Anime) Ball Game, Here’s Every Sports Anime Coming in 2022

I'm ready to cry over soccer, badminton, and horse racing.

Blue Lock anime

It’s no secret that I’m absolute sports anime trash. Here’s the thing, though. Keeping up with sports anime releases is a somewhat herculean task. When you start to look into what’s out there you realize that there are a LOT of “using sports ball to express my feelings” anime as we get more and more releases every year. 2022, in particular, is playing with a pretty stacked deck of sports cards, from shows that are already out to series coming out in the future.

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So here’s my attempt at making sense of it. Did I manage to make the final shot at the end of the buzzer? Probably not, especially when there’s still plenty of time for new stuff to be announced later. That being said, here’s what I know so far in regard to what’s out and what’s coming.

What’s already out

Aoashi

  • Summary: Aoi Ashito is an ace of a weak soccer team at a junior high school in Ehime. His play almost gets the team to the semi-final in his last tournament in junior high, but provoked by the opponent’s goalie, Ashito receives a red card and is removed from the game. While Ashito is running on the beach to forget the frustration, mysterious Fukuda Tatsuya, who calls himself the manager of Tokyo City Esperion Youth team, approaches Ashito.
  • Where to watch: Crunchyroll
  • Thoughts: Haven’t gotten a chance to start it yet.

Love All Play

  • Summary: Badminton team member Mizushima Ryo dreams of attending Yokohama Minato High School with the player he admires, but he had given up on that dream because he thought it was impossible. But one day, the high school’s badminton coach Ebihara visits Ryo-
  • Where to watch: Crunchyroll
  • Thoughts: Another one I haven’t gotten the chance to start.

Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story

  • Summary: Eve is an underground golfer who supports poor street orphans with the money she makes from illegal golfing matches. But her life is about to change forever when she meets a young golfer who’s just arrived from Japan…
  • Where to watch: Crunchyroll
  • Thoughts: Boy, oh boy, do I have THOUGHTS on this one. There’s over-the-top sports anime antics and then there’s whatever the hell Birdie Wing is doing. The series is dripping with ridiculousness, 10/10 would recommend if you want a good “wtf is happening” laugh.

Related: Most Anticipated Sports Games of 2023 on Operation Sports

Futsal Boys!!!

  • Summary: For the past 10-odd years, futsal has been booming across the world. After watching Tokinari Tennoji represent Japan in the U-18 World Cup, Haru Yamato aspires to be a player like him. He joins the Koyo Gakuen Futsal Club where he meets teammates Seiichiro Sakaki, a loner who refuses to pass the ball to anyone, and Toi Tsukioka, who is burdened by a past that nearly made him quit futsal for good.
  • Where to watch: Funimation
  • Thoughts: I tried an episode and couldn’t get into it. In my quick review I said, “These are sports anime archetypes that I like, but I just didn’t feel a connection with the characters filling in those well-used character slots.”

Tribe Nine

  • Summary: In Neo Tokyo, disillusioned youth form tribes that battle each other in an intense sport called Extreme Baseball. One night, two kids – Haru Shirogane and Taiga – meet the strongest man in the world, Shun Kamiya. Together the three join forces to play this cutthroat game against a mysterious man who has begun taking control of all the tribes. Can they defeat him before it’s too late?
  • Where to watch: Funimation
  • Thoughts: I tried two episodes and, much like Futsal Boys!!! I couldn’t get into it. In my quick review I said, “Don’t get me wrong, Extreme Baseball is entertaining as all hell to watch, but I feel like there’s something missing with the anime and I can’t quite figure out what it is. The game itself is over-the-top in ways that got a laugh out of me, but for some reason, I’m just not connecting with the story and the characters as much as I’d like.”

Salaryman’s Club

  • Summary: Mikoto Shiratori, a badminton prodigy with the ability of foresight, is fired from Mitsuhoshi Banking after losing a match for their company sports badminton team and is recruited by Sunlight Beverage to play for their team. Mikoto has vowed not to play on a doubles team following an incident at his Interhigh match in high school. However, his co-worker, Tatsuru Miyazumi, encourages him to be his doubles partner, and Mikoto must work through his past trauma to overcome the struggles in their teamwork.
  • Where to watch: Crunchyroll
  • Thoughts: I didn’t get to finish the series yet but what I saw of it I really enjoyed. Like. Sports anime protagonists in their 20s and 30s? Working regular 9 to 5 jobs until they can pull the suit and tie off so they can play the game after work? I have a better summary (and fangirl reactions) over here, but those two points alone sold me on the series.

Dance Dance Danseur

  • Summary: Second-year junior high school student Junpei was fascinated by ballet as a boy but gave up on dancing after his father’s death, thinking that he had to act more manly. However, one day, a beautiful transfer student named Miyako appears before him.
  • Where to watch: Crunchyroll
  • Thoughts: I’ve watched three episodes of the series and decided that I need to let it finish so I can watch the whole thing at once. It’s the kind of anime that hits you with its beautiful visuals and an obvious build-up to something that’s gonna shatter your heart. I can’t take that on a weekly basis, so I’ll wait to the season’s over then dive back in.

Fanfare of Adolescence

  • Summary: At the all-boys Horse Racing School, entrance is incredibly difficult, with only one of every 10 to 20 applicants being accepted. Here students need to not only be book smart, but athletic and in peak physique. Three new students—a popular idol, another from a remote island, and one from England unsure of his path—come to this elite school to pursue their dreams of becoming a jockey.
  • Where to watch: Crunchyroll
  • Thoughts: I need to get caught up on this series, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. A pop idol turned jockey and, of course, all of the obvious subtext that blossoms from moments like “I fell off the horse and the cute boy caught me, cute the music, pink hue, and enough rose petals to make Tuxedo Mask blush.” No, I’m not kidding.

Ryoma! Rebirth: The Prince of Tennis Movie 

Summary: Provoked by his father, Samurai Nanjirou (a legendary winner of a US tennis championship), Ryoma is determined to train himself in the US after winning a championship in Japan. He runs into his classmate, Sakuno, getting in trouble with street gangs, and accepts a tennis match against the villains to save her. Through the intense tennis battle, the shock of two ramming tennis balls makes a stream of time leap somehow. Ryoma and Sakuno find themselves transported back to the past decades ago when Ryoma’s father challenged his last match at a championship in the US.

Where to watch: This was in theaters beginning May 12, 2022.

Thoughts: Believe it or not, Prince of Tennis is a sports anime that I didn’t get into when it initially aired. Somehow, I missed out on it, but I’ve slowly been watching episodes here and there and giggling about how delightfully overdramatic the series is. Its peak sports anime is what I’m saying.

What’s coming

Blue Lock

  • Summary: After a disastrous defeat at the 2018 World Cup, Japan’s team struggles to regroup. But what’s missing? An absolute Ace Striker, who can guide them to the win. The Japan Football Union is hell-bent on creating a striker who hungers for goals and thirsts for victory, and who can be the decisive instrument in turning around a losing match…and to do so, they’ve gathered 300 of Japan’s best and brightest youth players. Who will emerge to lead the team…and will they be able to out-muscle and out-ego everyone who stands in their way?
  • Thoughts: I know sports anime has a habit of getting intense but hoooooly shit this looks like some kind of battle royale fight to the death levels of extreme. I’m in.
  • Release date: October 2022

Free! Movie 5: The Final Stroke – Kouhen

  • Summary: Haruka finally arrives in Sydney, the dream destination for his world-class competitive swimming aspirations. As he steps into this new frontier, he is faced with his friends and rivals from the All Japan Invitational, including the current world champion Albert Volandel. In order to stand at the very top of the world, Haru may need to make sacrifices, including his dream of swimming with his friends. This is the second (and last) part of the Final Stroke series of movies.
  • Thoughts: Free! has become the sports anime that I haven’t thought much about after the series ended, but whenever someone mentions it I backstroke my way back into the pool. I don’t know if these movies will ever be released here in the US, but I kinda can’t believe that the little swimming anime that could is coming to an end.
  • Release date: Was released in theaters in Japan on April 22, 2022. No word on a US release date yet.

Shoot! Goal to the Future

  • Summary: Atsushi Kamiya, a former captain at Kakegawa High School and the world-renowned “courageous captain” for a famous Italian soccer team. Hideto Tsuji, a student at Kakegawa High School, who seems uninterested in the now-weakened soccer team. Their meeting is the start of a new legend…
  • Where to watch: Crunchyroll
  • Thoughts: As someone who got into sports anime around the 2010s, I’m always interested in the series that I missed out on, especially classic ones like this. The original Shoot! manga dates back to 1990 and is hailed as one of the greatest soccer manga of all time, so I’m excited to get into it.
  • Release date: July 2022

Tsurune Movie: Hajimari no Issha

https://youtu.be/JCg0bK8pz4I
  • Summary (of the series): When Narumiya Minato joins Prefectural Kazemai High School, he is quickly invited to join the archery club by the club’s advisor, Tommy-sensei. His childhood friends Takehaya Seiya and Yamanouchi Ryohei swiftly agree to join, but Minato is hesitant at first. Because Minato is the rare student with experience in archery, Tommy-sensei orders him to give a demonstration, which Minato does… except his arrow doesn’t hit the target. It is revealed that Minato has developed a terrible dysfunction regarding archery.
  • Thoughts: I’ve seen exactly one episode of this anime and was immediately hooked by its beautiful animation and obvious “this is gonna make you cry” bits throughout the story. I’m excited to see that it’s getting more content, and I hope said content is released here in the US.
  • Release date: August 19, 2022 (in Japan). No word on a US release yet.

Bakuten!! (Backflip!!) Movie

  • Summary (of the series): Each laugh takes them higher. Each tear makes them stronger. The final summer of middle school, Shotaro Futaba discovers boys’ gymnastics and is completely enamored by it. Shotaro ends up going to Soshukan Private High School (also known as Ao High) and decides to visit the boy’s gymnastics club. He’s greeted by very unique senpais and a star gymnast named Misato Ryoya. Dedicating your life to something you love during your fiery days of youth… of course, there is frustration and fights, but see how these boys work together as a team towards a similar goal in this drama about sports and youth. This spring, see passionate boys give their all for their youthful dreams!
  • Thoughts: I actually really enjoyed the series and am glad to see that we’re getting more! The final episode was a bit of a stressful watch (as is the case when the underdog team is competing), and I look forward to seeing what the team does next… assuming this movie gets released here.
  • Release date: Spring 2022 (in Japan). No word on a US release yet.

Yowamushi Pedal: Limit Break

Yowamushi Pedal Limit Break
(Image: Wataru Watanabe)
  • Summary (of the series): Sakamichi Onoda is an otaku who has just entered high school. In middle school, Onoda did not have any friends with whom he could talk about his interests and hopes to change that by joining his new school’s anime club. However, he is crushed when he discovers the anime club has been disbanded due to a lack of interest. Since he was a little boy, Onoda has ridden his city bicycle, a simple and bulky bicycle designed for short rides. A fellow freshman and much more serious cyclist (Shunsuke Imaizumi) notices Onoda riding his bike and mocks him inwardly until he sees Onoda riding up a steep hill with little effort. Another student named Naruko visits Akihabara to get some plastic Gundam models for his younger brothers and meets Onoda, who catches his attention because of his cycling skill. Later on, both Naruko and Imaizumi try to convince him to join the bicycle racing club at their high school, Sohoku.
  • Thoughts: Not much has been said yet about the next installment of Yowamushi Pedal, just that it’s coming soon. I haven’t seen much of the anime but what I have seen is delightful, I adore that Onoda developed his skills because he rode his bike around to go buy anime merch. My anime-loving teenage self drove to Suncoast instead of biking because, clearly, she didn’t have as much heart as you.
  • Release date: October 2022 (no word on a US release yet)

Slam Dunk Movie

  • Summary (of the series): Hanamichi Sakuragi is a delinquent and the leader of a gang. Sakuragi is very unpopular with girls, having been rejected an astonishing fifty times. In his first year at Shohoku High School, he meets Haruko Akagi, the girl of his dreams, and is overjoyed when she is not repulsed or scared of him like all the other girls he has asked out. Haruko, recognizing Sakuragi’s athleticism, introduces him to the Shohoku basketball team. Sakuragi is reluctant to join the team at first, as he has no prior experience in sports and thinks that basketball is a game for losers because his fiftieth rejection was in favor of a basketball player. Sakuragi, despite his extreme immaturity and fiery temper, proves to be a natural athlete and joins the team, mainly in the hopes of impressing and getting closer to Haruko. Later on, Sakuragi realizes that he has come to actually love the sport, despite having previously played primarily because of his crush on Haruko.
  • Thoughts: There hasn’t been a Slam Dunk film since 1995. I can’t believe we’re getting a new movie! Will it be released here? I have no idea, I’m just stunned to see new Slam Dunk content after over two decades!
  • Release date: Fall 2022 (no word on a US release yet)

Zuo Shou Shang Lan (Left Hand Layup!)

Not much has been said about this series, but according to the website Yu Alexius, this Chinese anime (or donghua) is an original project from the animation studio LHL Culture. “The play stars Xu Xing Ze, a passionate basketball player, tells a youthful story about love and the growth of Chinese teens.” The animation alone has me excited. The series has a projected release date of Fall 2022, but there’s no word on where it’ll be airing.

Wishful thinking

Yuri!!! on Ice the Movie: Ice Adolescence

A myth. A mirage. A movie that simply does not exist. We shall feast on the art that was released and await the next burst of “Yuri still wears his ring” art.

SK8 project

What is the new SK8 project? Is it a new season? A movie? When is it being released? Who knows, but I’m excited either way.

(Featured image: Muneyuki Kaneshiro/Yusuke Nomura/Eight Bit)

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Author

Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)

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