So I was having a conversation with Aestevalis about the new anime for this Fall and I started going through the chart to see what my most anticipated would be. I went through and to my surprise most of the ones I was excited about were sports themed. It made me think about what I liked so much about sports anime and thus here we are. I think sports anime fills a special sort of void in my anime viewing life. You see I don't particularly like most shonen styled anime at least not anymore. I used to be huge into Dragonball Z, Naruto, One Piece, Yu Yu Hakusho (especially Yu Yu Hakusho), but I find myself not as drawn into those style shows anymore. I get aggravated at the slow moving plots where you have to be sitting in for hundreds of episodes to get anywhere, I get tired of the style of show where the flashiness of the battles out weigh the plot of a story. But, all that being said I like some of the themes of the shonen shows, the idea of a weak character becoming a strong one through hard work and determination, the power of "friendship" and all the staple themes of those kind of shows.
I was looking forward to the new anime season hoping for shows with a strong story and a nice art style. You know what? overall I was pretty disappointed. Don't get me wrong they all looked nice, but there wasn't one there that absolutely wowed me like Eccentric Family did this season. A lot of them are sequels and spinoffs and even a few that looked to piggyback off other series' success. It became apparent that the series I was most interested in was Yawamushi Pedal. A cycling anime. I cocked my head to the side as I saw it and was genuinely surprised. A cycling anime?! hbuh wha? I found out afterward it was based on a manga, but still it's pretty unique even for a sports anime and it's something of a breath of fresh air. I guess I'm looking for something different in my anime as of late, I've been tired of the stories about the young boy who's lost his memory and is forced to fight some giant evil over the course of hundreds of episodes to save the world, but I guess part of it is that I don't have time for it anymore, but yeah.
Sports anime fulfills these needs, but at the same time is grounded in reality, and isn't three thousand episodes long. I know, I know they have special moves and do things that can't be said to be grounded in reality, but because it's sports it always feels more real to me. This does something special in my opinion, it makes me want to go out and play that sport. I started playing tennis way back in the day while reading Prince of Tennis. I picked basketball back up after Kuroko no Basuke, It happens every time I watch one of these shows it happens, I want to pick up a ball or get active and make myself better in some way, if these characters can get so much stronger can't I?
It was such a big feeling that I went out and did it, and I continue to do it. I changed my diet, I work out six days a week and over the course of the last year, I've lost 75 pounds. I'm continuing to push myself further and further. I'm working towards running a marathon with in the next year. I'm looking to get back into tennis, maybe some basketball on the side. I couldn't see my life without exercise anymore. It's that drive to improve myself that fuels me. and I think it started with watching some sports anime, it sounds kinda stupid looking back at it now. And part of it is definitely that I looked at myself and didn't like what I saw. But, I do now! :3
That's the overall feeling I have when reading/watching these types of stories. It's not that I think if I train hard enough that I can attain some "special move" that will make me awesome at a sport. It's not even the sport that matters. It's the overall feeling that I could improve myself some how. It's the feeling that hard work pays off. It's the overwhelming power of teamwork and the inherent good in people. It's the optimism of the characters that's infectious and makes me keep coming back to this world of sports anime.
*Warning - I may be biased about this, I'm a pretty big sports fan as is :3