Years ago, the East Tokyo United soccer team was a force to be reckoned with, captained by the talented and charismatic Takeshi Tatsumi. But after leaving suddenly to join an amateur team in England, ETU's record and morale quickly plummeted, their meager status kept afloat only by the efforts of new captain Murakoshi. Now, several years have passed and Takeshi is in town once more, this time to bring the team back to victory. But with fans resentful of the man's former departure, clashing personalities on the team and Takeshi's unorthodox and lackadaisical coaching style, ETU's rise to fame won't be easy...
Ippo Makunouchi is a loser. He has no friends, he spends his free time helping his mom with work, and he's constantly being beaten up by bullies. But that all changes when one day he's saved from another beating by Takamura, an up-and-coming boxer. Soon, Ippo turns his life around with a passion for the newly discovered sport, but his new lifestyle is far from easy! Before he can even dream of becoming champion, he'll have to overcome a slew of fierce rivals and learn what 'dedication' really means.
Besides being members of the all-to-rare "sports anime" genre, both Giant Killing and Hajime no Ippo are underdog stories. Hajime no Ippo focuses on the rise of a diminutive high school kid to the heights of Japanese boxing, while Giant Killing depicts a failing soccer club's efforts to turn their fortunes around.
Having some affinity for sports probably helps, but if you like seeing the little guy fight his way to victory, then either of these anime merit your consideration.
Kyousuke Kano aspires to become a professional soccer player but decides to quit after endless comparisons to his brother, who is a famous midfielder in AC Milan. However, things change when Kyousuke meets a girl who forces him to coach his school's women's soccer team; and soon thereafter, he rediscovers his love for the sport and decides to pick up the cleats once more. With Kyousuke's passion for the game, he aims to lead his team to the national tournament and win the hearts of many.
While the sports in these anime are different, they both share the same kind of values espousing the merits of team work. Both anime involve down on their luck teams getting exciting new blood to reinvigorate them. In Kuroko it's new players and in Giant Killing it's a new coach, but in both the existing players must learn to get along with the new members and bond together as a team to win. Both series also have a lot of comedic moments inbetween the intense games they play.
Kuroko has much better animation and character designs. The games are much more exciting in Kuroko because of the better animation. Kuroko also has much better pacing. However, if you enjoy sports anime about teamwork then you should try both these titles.
Ren Mihashi is a timid pitcher with problems; he has no self esteem or confidence, due to the relentless bullying of his once teammates, and is reluctant to play baseball again. However, at Ren's new school, Nishiura Prefectural High, he finds himself picking up the mitt once more. Along with the help of alumni-turned-coach Maria Momoe, tough but supportive Takaya Abe, and the rest of his teammates, Ren will regain his confidence and show the game of baseball who's the boss yet again!
Meet Ryoma Echizen, the cocky prince of tennis. He comes to Japan from America where he is known as the Prince of Tennis – but that is no surprise considering he is the son of the former tennis pro, Nanjiroh Echizen, otherwise known as the Samurai! Upon transferring to the school Seishun Gakuen, he meets the regulars of the tennis club, and becomes the first freshman to become a regular; but he has a lot to learn yet about being a tennis star. Ryoma, along with the rest of his teammates, aspire to win the Nationals; but first, they must defeat the other teams which stand in their way!
It never ceases to amaze me how these sports anime rack up as much suspense as a good action. Both Prince of Tennis and Giant Killing had me at the edge of my seat during a match/game. Both made me laugh, but both also spend time on the growth of various characters.
If you enjoyed The Prince of Tennis and are ready for another well-developed, exciting sports anime, I highly recommend Giant Killing. You'll have to switch gears from middle school tennis to professional soccer, but the switch is entirely painless, I assure you.
Similarly, if you enjoyed Giant Killing and want to tackle an even larger collection of matches and watch another set of athletes improve their skills, Prince of Tennis just might before you. Prince of Tennis is a little less realistic at times, and has a notable amount of comedy. But on the court, these young atheletes are just as serious as the ETU's soccer team. Give it a try - I think you'll like it.