[Throwback Thursday] 6 Anime like Slam Dunk [Recommendations]

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Slam Dunk is an anime classic that most people have at least heard about and made others fans of the Sports genre of anime. With its comedy bits and strong passionate drive (with a slice of one-sided love here and there), it won a space in fans hearts for years to come.

However, are there other anime series that might get the honorable title of “anime like Slam Dunk”? Well, lace up your sneakers and let’s follow Sakuragi into the court because we’re going to find out!

Similar Anime to Slam Dunk

1. Kuroko no Basket [Kuroko’s Basketball]

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: April 2012 - September 2012

When it comes to being a player, no matter what sport, the goal is the same: “Becoming the number one player”. For Taiga Kagami, this is his goal. Coming from the USA and into Japan, he was upset to see the difference in quality level for players, and his thirst for competition worsens as he can’t find someone he would call a righteous opponent. All of this changes when he meets Tetsuya Kuroko, his classmate and also former “Generation of Miracles” member. While it may not seem so, Kuroko’s tactical skills become pretty evident and noticing Kagami’s raw talent, he makes a promise. Both will join forces to do something no one thinks even can be done, defeat all members of the “Generation of Miracles” and become the best team in Japan.

When it comes to similarities, the most obvious one is that Kagami and Sakuragi are both redheads with an attitude. While Sakuragi was more of a bad guy turned into a player, Kagami just focuses all his energy on the sport that he loves. Also, while it may not seem like it at first, Kuroko and Haruko share the sidekick position or as Kuroko’s said it himself, the “support role”, making sure that both main characters improve and hone their skills to become better players to reach their goal.

Kuroko no Basket - CM


2. Great Teacher Onizuka

  • Episodes: 43
  • Aired: June 1999 - September 2000

For someone like Eikichi Onizuka, you might say being a teacher comes off as two possible things: community service or avoiding jail time. Surprisingly enough, with either of those, you wouldn’t be too far from the truth! A former renown delinquent, now he tries to make things right by becoming a teacher, but when his class ends up being full of foul-mouthed, disrespectful, ungrateful, sons of b- *ahem*, he decides to take matters into his own hands as only a former delinquent can. Soon enough, everyone will start talking about The Great Teacher Onizuka, whose number one goal in life is to become the greatest teacher in the world.

The first thing that might cross your mind could be: “Great Teacher Onizuka? But there’s no basketball there”, and you would be right, except the comparison we’re establishing here has absolutely nothing to do with sports and everything to do with the main characters. Both of them are former delinquents turned good and boy do they have an attitude towards their own egos. The only aspect where it might differ would be on the “perverted” level Onizuka has while Sakuragi just has eyes and heart for Haruko. Still, we can’t help but to think that if Sakuragi ever becomes a coach in the future, he wouldn’t be too far ahead from the Great Teacher Onizuka, which begs the question, would any student ever be safe?

TOKYOPOP Presents GTO Anime Trailer


3. Hajime no Ippo [Fighting Spirit]

  • Episodes: 75
  • Aired: October 2000 - Marzo 2002

Ippo Makunouchi is a student that would always find himself being mocked and bullied all around. More than a physical strain, these continuous acts left him with a mental scar and it makes him feel extremely weak. All of this changes one day, however, as he meets with Mamoru Takamura, an experienced boxer. Even though he doesn’t think too much of Ippo at first, after putting him through some small tests, Takamura discovers that Ippo carries a lot of potential inside of him and takes him under his wing to his daily gym. Something’s for sure, though, through thick and thin, Ippo will always bounce back up and face any challenge head on!

Hajime no Ippo is another classic anime series that delves into the Sports genre. As far as similarities go, both main characters are fairly new on their own trade but they aim from the very beginning to become the best ones. There’s a lot of sports action involved throughout both series as well as a lot of light comedy that balances out the narrative and progression as the story moves forward. Full of jabs and uppercuts, Hajime no Ippo’s an anime series you must definitely check out.

Hajime no Ippo (US Geneon Trailer)


6 Anime like Slam Dunk?

4. Diamond no Ace [Ace of Diamond]

  • Episodes: 75
  • Aired: October 2013 – March 2015

In sports, sometimes a single mistake could cause a player to just stop pushing forward and leave it all behind. For Eijun Sawamura, however, a mistake just means working harder and improving to the edge. After failing his middle-school team with a game-ending mistake, Sawamura feels down but not out (“out”... get it?) and he tells his team that they’ll get to the Nationals next year! That sounded like a plan if it wasn’t for a surprise visit of a scout, who saw what had happened and still invited him to Tokyo's prestigious Seidou High School. Torn between missing high-school with his teammates and opportunity knocking on the door, he says goodbye but not without promising to make them all proud.

One of the similarities that immediately pop up when comparing Slam Dunk with Diamond no Ace is the drive that both characters develop to overcome the odds and push themselves toward their goal, becoming the best player in the world. Both main characters also have a certain “attitude problem” that more often than not get them in trouble. Also, the influence of rivalry is present and more than distracting, it makes them focus and improve their skills. Whether you’re more of a basketball fan or a baseball fan, if you enjoyed Slam Dunk, you’ll definitely enjoy watching this series. Don’t strike out and miss it! (Ok, I’ll stop).

TV Anime "A diamond" PV first series


5. Buzzer Beater

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: February 2005 – April 2005

In a near-future New York, the population has evolved in ways that some would deem impossible. So much so that now alien hybrids live among the human crowd without so much as raising an eyebrow. It’s not like they didn’t leave an impact in our society, either, as some of them became the best at some of our most popular sports, basketball included. If you would ask Hideyoshi, though, he would probably tell you he could beat them all, aliens or not. After having to put his money where his mouth was, the 14-year-old orphan got selected to be part of a very special team. This team’s goal? Win the Space League and bring the championship back to earth.

Buzzer Beater is not your run-of-the-mill anime sports series, but even as we mention that we could still see some similarities in both this series and Slam Dunk. Both series have a delinquent protagonist with a huge ego and a thrill for competition, for example. Both series highlight as the main goal to be a great team and to win their respective tournaments/championships. Also, while not at the same pace, you can see the growth on each protagonist and team and you’ll end up cheering them on with each passing episode. Finally, not as much as on Slam Dunk but comedy is present as well. If you enjoyed Slam Dunk, give this series a try.

Buzzer Beater - Opening


6. Hungry Heart: Wild Striker

  • Episodes: 52
  • Aired: September 2002 - September 2003

If there’s something that could strain somebody’s heart is living under the shadow of someone you love. Such has been the life of Kanou Kyosuke, whose brother named Kanou Seisuke just signed up a contract with AC Milan, even going as far as being called “The Future of Japanese Soccer”! After a lot of struggle, Kyosuke decided to stop being a soccer player and move ahead in life. All is going accord to plan until a boy from his new high-school recognizes his abilities as a player and he acts him to join the soccer team. He refuses for a while, but after being forced to be the female team’s coach for a year he remembers and rediscovers his passion for soccer. A testament of second chances, Kyosuke’s drive will be something rivals should be careful of!

As funny as it may sound, if Sakuragi’s skills had made him chose soccer over basketball, this would be the series we would have watched (Slam… Strike? Maybe? Anyone? No?). With mild similarities on both series when it comes to comedy, the passion both main characters show throughout the episode is just breathtaking. Also, both Sakuragi and Kyosuke are a bit (a lot) stubborn and they might get a bit (a lot) on their teammates’ nerves. To sum it up, this is the soccer version of Slam Dunk, for sure.

Hungry Heart: Wild Striker - Opening


Final Thoughts

*Phew* Hope you didn’t pass out from dehydration there. You definitely earned yourself a bottle of water! No doubt Slam dunk left its print in anime and some of these series show it. Whether it is competition, passion or just straight out a delinquent attitude, all of these series have earned a place in this article and in our hearts.

What did you think of this article? Do you agree or can you recommend us other amazing series similar to Slam Dunk? Let us know in our comments section below or on our social networks!

by Alexcelsior.

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