13 Best Basketball Anime of All Time, Ranked

Best Basketball anime
Image via Geneon Entertainment USA

Basketball anime are quite unpopular in the industry, and that’s certainly not because there are no manga to adapt, but there are only a few anime to watch. However, despite that, most of them are pretty impressive, and they date all the way back to the 1980s.

While some of these basketball anime are not entirely focused on sports alone and incorporate other genres, such as romance and comedy, nearly all of them are worth watching. So, without further ado, here are the best basketball anime you can watch right now.

13. I’ll/CKBC (2002)

I'll/CKBC - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Aniplex

I’ll/CKBC is a short basketball anime that doesn’t feature any groundbreaking matches like Slam Dunk or Kuroko’s Basketball, but it shows the true spirit of basketball from the lens of a young player conflicted with his dream.

When Hitonari Hiiragi is almost on the verge of quitting his dream of becoming a professional basketball player due to his family’s poor background, he meets Akane Tachibana, who reignites Hiirahi’s passion for the game. After joining his club, they begin their journey into a professional basketball career.

12. Breakers (2020)

Breakers - Best Basketball Anime
Image via NHK

Breakers is perhaps the most underrated sports anime in history because it not only offers a unique viewpoint on multiple games at once but also delves into the lives of disabled athletes. If you don’t mind watching an anime that partly focuses on basketball and the rest on other sports, go for it.

The anime revolves around four para-athletes who inadvertently meet an outcast sports scientist named Ren Narita. With his unconventional training regime, he pushes these individuals as they try to achieve success in their respective sports fields.

11. Buzzer Beater (2005)

Buzzer Beater - Best Basketball Anime
Image via TMS Entertainment

Buzzer Beater takes the competing experience of basketball sport to a whole new level by introducing the concept of humans against aliens. While it doesn’t precisely pull science fiction ambiance as in Redline or Cowboy Bebop, there are plenty of intergalactic competitions to entertain you.

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The story follows a homeless boy named Hideyoshi, who lives by hustling street kids in basketball games. However, after he’s drafted into a pro basketball team, he must challenge superior alien teams to bring back the trophy to the Earth.

10. Dear Boys (2003)

Dear Boys - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Bandai Entertainment

Dear Boys is a decent basketball in a sense because although it lacks in many areas, such as in the animation department, it provides a decent experience with a likable story and characters. Needless to say, there are better basketball anime out there, but you can watch it after bingeing the rest.

Aikawa Kazuhiko, who used to be the captain of Tendoji High School’s basketball team, moves to a new town to join a new high school. However, apart from a few players casually paying attention, their basketball is inactive. With Kazuhiko’s passion, many of his schoolmates show interest in the sport, and together, they start their journey into national tournaments.

9. Barangay 143 (2018)

Barangay 143 - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Shin-Ei Animation

Barangay 143 is quite an unconventional basketball anime that not only offers a great take on the sport but also adds a certain amount of drama to the story. Overall, it provides an excellent experience for the sports anime fans.

Ben Park quits basketball after a tragedy strikes his family, and moves to the Philippines, hoping to start a new life. However, when a coach named Coach B, who is seeking justice for his son’s death, meets him, one thing leads to another, and he starts playing basketball again.

8. Ro-Kyu-Bu! (2011)

Ro-Kyu-Bu! - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Sentai Filmworks

Here’s a basketball anime for everyone because you don’t have manly boys who dunk like their life depends on it, but instead, a group of cute little girls who play the sport in an even more adorable way. However, you should consider it a comedy anime more than sports, and you’ll enjoy it indefinitely.

When Subaru Hasegawa learns that his school’s basketball team has halted activities for a whole year, his ambition to become a good basketball is crushed. However, when his aunt, Mihoshi Takamura, invites him to teach the sport to a team of elementary school girls, his life takes a positive turn.

7. Onagawa Chuu Baske Bu: 5-nin no Natsu (2017)

Onagawa Chuu Baske Bu - Best Basketball Anime
Image via NHK

In case you are just bored and want to look at a short basketball anime, Onagawa Chuu Baske Bu: 5-nin no Natsu works incredibly well because it only has one special episode with a duration of 31 minutes. While it isn’t enough to make it an enjoyable anime, it nevertheless pulls it off.

The anime is based on the true story of the Onagawa Junior High School girls’ basketball team, who only leaves five regulars after an earthquake strikes Touhouku. The story is detailed in a documentary fashion, making it more of an excellent message with a light-hearted approach.

6. Dash! Kappei (1981)

Dash! Kappei - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Fuji TV

Dash! Kappei is more of a fun show that we used to enjoy as a daily TV program as children, and it does a fantastic job of fulfilling that part. While it doesn’t particularly emphasize basketball alone, it does have plenty of funny and noticeable sports moments.

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Kappei, although a short guy, can master any game effortlessly. Living as a guest in the house of a sweet girl named Akane, he falls in love with her. However, with a strange rival in his way, he tries to outshine in every way, especially in sports like basketball.

5. Basquash (2009)

Basquash - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Maiden Japan

Japanese anime always find new ways to define a sport, like how Megalobox and Levius do with boxing. Basquash is a similar kind of anime that shows basketball in the new limelight. It is simply a thrilling experience, which, while it has its fair share of flaws, is worth considering as one of the best basketball anime shows.

The story takes place on a planet named Earthdash, where a spunky teenager determines to get rich in order to give a good life to her sister, who is suffering from a disability. His goal is to head for the moon where the rich reside, and to achieve it, he plays the sport of Basquash, which is basketball but played with mecha robots.

4. Ahiru no Sora (2019)

Ahiru no Sora - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Sentai Filmworks

Ahiru no Sora is one of the better sports anime shows with a really good story that stays with the viewer until the end. While its pacing can be a little slow in the beginning, it gets incredibly addicting later on and is definitely a must-watch basketball anime.

Despite his short stature, Sora has never given up on his dream of becoming a pro basketball player. However, when he enrolls in Kuzuryuu High School, he finds that his teammates don’t have a passion for the sport and couldn’t care less about participating in tournaments. Determined to change their view on basketball, he challenges them in a match and thus begins this epic journey of their dream of winning a championship.

3. Zuoshou Shanglan (2023)

Zuoshou Shanglan - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Tencent Penguin Pictures

Chinese are usually crazy about basketball, which is shown in the anime. It is incredibly well-animated with all the necessary sports elements added, and it is relatively short so that you can binge-watch in a short amount of time.

The story revolves around Xu Xingze, who, after witnessing a Star Player win the basketball tournament, decides to join their team. However, his sister mistakenly enrolls him in a different school with a similar name. Stuck with a ragtag group of new teammates, he decides to make them a strong team and win trophies in the region.

Related: 13 Best Chinese Anime You’ve Missed (Which You Shouldn’t!)

2. Slam Dunk (1993)

Slam Dunk - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Geneon Entertainment USA

Slam Dunk is a type of anime that many viewers keep on their list long enough and eventually watch after running out of sports anime. Then they realize it is an absolutely worthy journey and why they had kept it so long from watching. We believe it is one of the best sports anime and arguably the best basketball anime alongside Kuroko’s Basketball.

The story follows Hanamichi Sakuragi, who set a record of being rejected by girls in middle school and is determined to change it in high school. When flirting goes wrong, and he unintentionally agrees to do a slam dunk on the basketball court, he’s eventually drawn to the school’s basketball team, thus beginning the journey that spans over 100 episodes.

1. Kuroko’s Basketball (2015)

Kuroko's Basketball - Best Basketball Anime
Image via Bandai Visual/Shuiesha

The most common criticism you hear about Kuroko’s Basketball is how unrealistic it gets as you go further into the episodes. However, it is as good as a sports anime gets, and everything it attempts unconventionally ends up being its strongest suit.

Teikou Middle School has dominated the national basketball tournament for the past three years, thanks to its legendary lineup known as “Generation of Miracles.” However, they eventually grew pretentious about the sport, leading them to grow in their separate ways.

Now, in high school, they meet again, but this time, against each other, and Kuroko Tetsuya, the protagonist, is determined to prove that their way of basketball can only get them so far.

Posted by
Hanumanth Reddy

Hanumanth is an enthusiastic author who enjoys writing about anime, movies, and TV shows and aims to share his optimistic views with his readers. His favorite franchise is Star Wars, and he aspires to be a Jedi in the future, but he vows not to fall on the dark side.