What to Watch: Sports, this season's 3 for 1 special / by shadebug

It occurs to me that that title might sound like fighting talk round these parts. Let me explain.

Sports are boring, we know this. What we also know, however, is that sports can be immensely exciting when set to a movie or anime and this season has hit us with three stellar examples, all of which satisfy different itches. So let's see what you need scratching:

1. Haikyu!!

This is as by the book as it gets. Our protagonist loves the sport he loves (in this case, volleyball) and finds a team that helps him grow into a superstar. It's practically a battle manga with the way they encounter harder and harder opponents who can't believe their amazing skill.

No, it's not the poster for the second season of Free.

No, it's not the poster for the second season of Free.

This show gives us a range of characters that all clash against each other and then pull together for that sweet, sweet teamwork we all know and love. So if you're getting bored of Daiya no Ace and are looking for something to fuel your thirst for good ol' fashioned shounen sports, this is where you need to be.

2. Baby Steps

This is another staple of sports anime. The diamond in the rough. The prodigy that never even realised he was a prodigy. This one gives it a twist though in that the protagonist's talent is studying. He's really, really good at taking notes and when he applies it to playing tennis you get a tennis playing robot who will probably be really good once he's studied all of the tennis and built all the muscles.

It's secretly about her playing basketball with his head.

It's secretly about her playing basketball with his head.

It's a nice change of pace seeing an anime that doesn't depend entirely one somebody being talented but is, instead, about somebody who puts all of the effort in and gets the results from that effort. You might argue that it's unrealistic but then so was Yowapeda and that was still awesome.

3. Ping Pong: The Animation

This is the one for the big boys and girls out there. You've seen it all before and you know there's nothing out there that will spur your sport anime loving soul anymore. Noitamina, begs to differ. It's easy to make something exciting out of a big and action packed sport like football or basketball. It's easy to subvert everybody's expectations and make something tense and awesome out of something daft like concentration, rock-paper-scissors, go, mahjong, mahjong or mahjong. But taking something in-between and doing something great with it? Now that's fighting talk. Taking it and completely turning the genre on its head, well that's just teasing.

The most impressive thing about this poster is how little it does to prepare you for what the show's like.

The most impressive thing about this poster is how little it does to prepare you for what the show's like.

Ping Pong: The Animation presents us a Table Tennis prodigy who doesn't like winning. And we're not talking Saki style, disliking conflict or anything. They just don't care about winning and don't understand why you want them to bother. Couple that with a kind of edgy art style that will either fascinate you or make you turn off in seconds and you've got a proper show to keep your eye on. 

So there we go, fire up your browsers and apps to get your hands on Haikyu!! and Baby Steps and rob the federal reserve or whatever other highly illegal activity you need to do to watch Ping-Pong: The Animation. In the meantime, I'm off to see what else is on.