Top 16 Best Basketball Anime Of All Time (Ranked)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Love shooting hoops but really can’t bear to step away from the TV?
Well these basketball anime picks are sure to solve both of those problems!
These not only capture the excitement of the hardcourt, but in some cases also offer amazing plotlines and excellent character development. Which is typical of anime, but still fun to see with basketball themes.
So let’s shoot for the stars and check out some animes that would make Kobe proud.
16. Mitsu x Mitsu Drops
Just because it’s a sports anime, doesn’t mean it has to be strictly shounen.
Mitsu x Mitsu Drops Honey x Honey Drops) is a shoujo anime that tackles basketball games.
Houjou academy has this bizarre master-slave system in place.
A “slave”, also known as “honey”, has to do whatever her master demands. In return, a honey is exempted from paying any tuition.
Yes this is weird, but it’s anime so…
Kai Renge, star player of Houjou academy’s basketball team, is also a master to Hagino Yuzuru. He’s a student struggling to pay for school expenses.
What makes basketball a highlight in this series is that the loser needs to give up his honey!
At just two episodes the OVA was released last 2006), Mitsu x Mitsu Drops did offer an interesting way on how basketball can be used as a plot device for romantic stories.
This anime shows how important team chemistry is.
I’ll/CKBC is a two-episode OVA released in 2003.
It showcases dual protagonists: Akane Tachibana as the hardworking player, and Hitonari Hiiragi as the naturally-talented superstar.
This really short yet enjoyable anime proves that games can be won if teammates are in harmony with each other.
The basketball scenes are what makes this a good OVA to get into.
However, being just two episodes, expect a ton of information to be crammed into your head all at once! Great for a short watch though.
14. Dash Kappei
Here’s a basketball anime released way back in 1981 at a whopping 65 episode count).
Dash Kappei showcases 80s ecchi comedy at its finest.
The story is centered on Kappei Sakamoto, a really short he is less than a meter tall!) high school student with god-like basketball skills.
Although Kappei’s reason to actually play basketball seems really off: he found out that the team’s coach wears white panties.
Ironically it’s his main weakness, since he can’t stop peeking at those undergarments!
Hilarious and packed with out-of-this-world gags Kappei regenerating his strength through panties; winning games through bizarre techniques), Dash Kappei does try to take basketball seriously by explaining some game terms throughout each episode.
So even if you don’t understand basketball much, this one might suck you in.
13. Barangay 143
Now this is a relatively obscure anime series (relatively, since it’s released worldwide through a Filipino channel). And it also came back with new airings on TV recently.
Barangay 143 tackled how street basketball is seen through a Filipino’s eyes.
The series revolves around Bren Park, a Korean basketball player with roots in the Philippines, who joins a local streetball team.
Aside from the games, Bren learns more about the Filipino culture.
He also finds out how important it is to pursue your passions in life.
Although made in collaboration between a Filipino animation studio and TV Asahi, Barangay 143 does show some weird dubbing and animation quirks.
Set those aside and you’ll still get an interesting sports anime that shows how much of an impact basketball is in the Asian scene.
12. Heong-geuli Beseuteu 5
Next up is another obscure anime, Heong-geuli Beseuteu 5.
Released in Korea in 1995, this movie proves a common lesson shared in basketball: it’s all about teamwork.
The movie follows Kim Youngwoong, a Korean basketball player’s journey on being the best in the country.
Although known and chased by the biggest schools, Youngwoong decides to go for an underdog team.
Partly it’s because of Youngwoong’s coach’s advice, and because Youngwoong can really improve as a player by being with players hungry for wins.
It’s interesting to see basketball’s impact on different Asian countries.
Heong-geuli Beseuteu 5 actually made waves locally, the Korean University basketball team at the time lent their voices singing the movie’s theme song!
11. Onagawa Chuu Baske Bu: 5-nin no Natsu
A special released in 2017, Onagawa Chuu Baske Bu: 5-nin no Natsu is an anime that may just tug on your heartstrings.
The 2011 Tohoku earthquake is considered as one of the deadliest in Japan. This disaster recorded a staggering 15,899 casualty count.
In a show of resilience, the Onagawa Junior High’s girls basketball team continues to play. Even if they’re down to just five regulars in the team.
In my eyes, the best anime are those that inspire.
And through the love of the game, Onagawa Chuu Baske Bu: 5-nin no Natsu shines bright.
10. Dear Boys
This is a nice anime to watch if you’re into a more focused take on basketball concepts.
Dear Boys follows the typical underdog story shown in shonen anime.
Aikawa Kazuhiko, considered to be one of the best high school basketball players in Japan, surprised the sports world when he decided to transfer to Mizuho High School.
That school isn’t exactly a place for winners!
Still, taking the initiative and leading a bunch of misfits, the young star gets stronger with his eyes on winning the Inter-High basketball tournament.
Although it does have a story that will slowly grow on you, don’t be too judgmental of this show’s animation. The use of CG seems to be really off in some scenes.
Here’s something different. Ro-Kyu-Bu! combines the best out of loli and basketball anime.
Who would’ve thought to put them together…
Essentially an anime about an ex-basketball player Hasegawa Subaru, who stopped playing because of a bizarre scandal. No spoilers yet, watch it first!
Ro-Kyu-Bu! builds upon the idea that you can still pursue your hoop dreams, even if you’re not allowed to play.
Now coaching a team of young girls, Subaru has to teach the fundamentals for the team to win games.
It may not be as action-packed as other basketball anime. But Ro-Kyu-Bu! is a winner when it comes to both the ecchi and kawaii departments.
Just released this year, Breakers focuses on one aspect of the sport not often tackled in popular media: paralympics.
This anime actually shows four sports: goal ball, paralympic swimming, track, and wheelchair basketball.
The first episode, which showed wheelchair basketball as the main highlight, did bring in the thrills showing how exciting (and talented) para-athletes are.
It’s an entertaining take on a different style of basketball that few would think about. Definitely a unique show to watch.
Speaking of a different style of basketball, Basquash! from 2009 introduces a totally new form of shooting hoops.
Specifically, games played with mechas. Very Japanese.
Called Big Foot Basketball (BFB) in the series, the games are usually played in gigantic arenas.
Dan, the series’ protagonist, unintentionally made Big Foot Streetball famous when he invaded a BFB game.
It’s a whole different ball game in this anime.
Aside from the amazing animation, expect tons of mecha upgrades when the going gets tough for Dan and his crew.
Also, watch out for some out-of-this-world product placements: the Nike swoosh logo appears on several of the mecha feet.
6. Buzzer Beater
We’ve already mentioned giant robots, so we might as well play basketball with intergalactic alien tems as well.
Buzzer Beater introduces hardcourt action in a cosmic setting.
This anime, created by the legendary Takehiko Inoue (who has other works in this list as well) shows humanity’s stand against physically-superior alien races.
With an inter-planetary league showcasing all sorts of races, Buzzer Beater aims to prove that sports is a universal language.
5. Ahiru no Sora
Premiering just recently in late 2019, Ahiru no Sora is set to make waves in basketball anime.
The underdog story is a staple in the shonen genre.
But Ahiru no Sora seems to deliver this in such a fresh way. Its protagonist, Sora Kurumatani, is relatable for most basketball fans all over the world.
He isn’t blessed with height!
Still, that doesn’t stop him from trying to be the best.
And coupled with a really colorful cast of characters (Sora’s team is made up of a ragtag group of delinquents), Ahiru no Sora delivers excellently for both basketball action and plot drama.
4. Kuroko no Basket
Considered to be one of the most popular sports anime (first shown in 2012), Kuroko no Basket dazzles in amazing basketball action.
But it also has deep character growth and tons of arcs that bring excitement for fans of all genres.
Kuroko, considered to be the invisible member (or in basketball terms, the sixth man) of a legendary middle school basketball team, is now entering a new chapter in his life.
Enrolling in Seirin High, Kuroko meets Taiga Kagami.
Taiga is another player aiming to make it big in the scene. Together these two rookies will make a name for themselves in the Inter-High tournament.
What does make Kuroko no Basket such a blast is the special moves that most characters have.
Sure, it isn’t realistic. It’s anime.
But most of these moves are still grounded in real basketball principles.
And integrating these techniques does create really entertaining matches!
Kuroko himself is exciting to watch. He may be physically weak, but his talent in misdirection and passing are forces to be reckoned with.
3. Kuroko no Basket: Last Game (OVA)
One of the most popular OVAs to be made from Kuroko no Basket universe is “Last Game”.
It shows the world how amazing it would be if the best players in the series joined forces.
And we’re talking the best of the best here!
Kuroko’s former team (from the Generation of Miracles) and Kagami all agreed to form a single conslidated team to play against a visiting US streetball group.
This movie shows off what Kuroko no Basket is best known for: the exciting basketball action and the bizarre special techniques.
Also, Kuroko no Basket: Last Game does offer fans a great experience.
There really isn’t that much of a chance for the Generation of Miracles to play together again, so this truly is a special time in basketball anime!
2. Slam Dunk
No list of basketball anime will be complete without Slam Dunk.
With 100 episodes produced between 1993 to 1996, Slam Dunk can be argued as one of the best 90s anime that kick-started much of the basketball fascination in Asia.
Originally it was created by Takehiko Inoue as a simple basketball story (which mirrors his own experiences as he got into the game to impress girls).
But over time Slam Dunk slowly evolved into an expansive and gripping story of commitment, camaraderie, and passion.
Given that the story’s main character Hanamichi Sakuragi isn’t exactly the best player in the court, Slam Dunk does paint a really nice story on how basketball players can grow.
And really, what a nice story Slam Dunk offers!
It may not have the amazing animation that most anime have today (like Kuroko no Basket).
But Slam Dunk’s story is for the ages. It’s so impactful that fans are still begging for a sequel today!
1. Slam Dunk: Shouhoku Saidai no Kiki! Moero Sakuragi Hanamichi (OVA)
Some spoilers ahead, so if you don’t want to know much about the OVA and still want to experience Slam Dunk yourself then just go check this out. I promise it’s great!
What makes Slam Dunk such an amazing anime is that the good guys do not necessarily win every match.
That’s the case for the Shohoku team.
After their loss to Kainan High, Sakuragi took heart in transforming himself to a better player – which explains his haircut in the latter part of the series.
This movie which aired in 1995 tells of the match Shohoku had right after their devastating loss against Kainan.
Considering the importance of building team chemistry (even after a loss), Coach Anzai’s decision to have his team play against another tough opponent may be the perfect way for Shohoku to improve.
And it seems to show just how much a strong adversary can help you.
In true Slam Dunk fashion, this movie offers a balanced take on basketball and life lessons.
Perhaps that’s what makes Slam Dunk such a hit in the first place: it’s a really relatable anime series to almost anyone with any background.