10 Best Anime About Gymnastics in 2023

Anime About Gymnastics

Gymnastics and anime seem like a surprising combination, but this niche anime genre offers exciting stories about perseverance, passion, and pushing physical limits. These gymnastics anime showcase the sport in inspiring and dramatic ways.

As gymnastics gains popularity worldwide, gymnast anime has also garnered interest among viewers. The storylines evoke the core emotions that draw people to gymnastics - awe at physical capabilities, admiration for dedication, and the thrill of competition.

Gymnastics requires years of training, flexibility, balance, strength, control, and an unwavering drive to perfect techniques. Anime depicts these aspects beautifully through their characters’ gymnastics journeys. The growth of leads like Sora in Kaleido Star and Shun in Ganba! Fly High motivates viewers to pursue their own dreams as intensely.

Top 10 Anime About Gymnastics

From gymnast prodigies to underdogs determined to compete, here are the 10 best anime to watch about this incredible sport in 2023:

1. The Gymnastics Samurai (2020)


The Gymnastics Samurai focuses on retired Olympian Jotaro Aragaki trying for a comeback at age 29 to finally win a gold medal. Though once a top Japanese gymnast, Jotaro failed in his Olympic attempts due to injury.

Viewers follow his drama-filled road as he gets off the path of retirement. This mature lead works to prove his abilities to younger rising talents aiming for the championships.

The portrayal of elite men's artistic gymnastics shines throughout. Loyal training scenes, insider competitive details, iconic Olympic pressure - The Gymnastics Samurai depicts it all. The anime is uplifting and ever-tense as underdog Jotaro chases his ambitious last shot at gymnastics glory.

2. Kaleido Star (2003)


Iconic Japanese gymnast anime Kaleido Star has inspired figure skaters and gymnasts worldwide since the early 2000s. Set in a dazzling Cirque du Soleil style stage production show, Kaleido Stage also features world-class gymnastics performances.

Talented Sora Naegino travels from Japan to California to audition for the famous Kaleido Stage. After a shaky start, she battles setbacks and rivals through hard work, optimism, and brilliant gymnastics to become Kaleido’s leading lady.

What draws fans is the focus on Sora’s incredible gymnast skills as much as the glamorous trapeze acts and ingenious show numbers. Kaleido Star highlights the dedication top athletes like Sora require behind-the-scenes daily.

3. Backflip!! (2021)


Backflip!! centers on high school rhythmic gymnastics in a more lighthearted tone. The anime has a predominant shoujo flair following lead character Shou Futaba.

Once a talented young gymnast, Shou lost motivation after a growth spurt. Now in high school, seeing younger kids at the park doing rhythmic gymnastics rekindles Shou’s passion. He joins his school’s flailing rhythmic gymnastics club to regain his skills.

The anime balances slice-of-life comedy antics with inspiring competitive moments. Backflip!! also highlights often overlooked men participating in rhythmic gymnastics. Themes of camaraderie and believing in your potential despite the odds resonate in this upbeat gymnast anime.

4. Hikari no Densetsu (1984)

This influential retro gymnastics anime centers on 14-year-old rhythmic gymnast prodigy Hikari Kamiya. Hikari no Densetsu captures 1980s gymnastics nostalgia from training methods to leotard style.

Hikari dreams of mastering rhythmic gymnastics after becoming enamored watching famous Bulgarian gymnast Diliana Gueorguieva. The anime follows Hikari’s goal to compete on Diliana’s level while balancing school life and romance.

Despite its age, Hikari no Densetsu stands out for vividly animating ribbon, hoop, clubs, ball, and rope rhythmic apparatus work. Hikari’s gritty journey still inspires renewed interest decades later.

Watch Hikari no Densetsu (1984)

5. Ganba! Fly High (1996)

Inspired by the mangaka's real experience as an Olympic gymnast, Ganba! Fly High adds authenticity missing in most sports anime. It centers on 17-year-old men's gymnast Shun Fujimaki training nonstop with dreams of competing in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

The mid-1990s setting, lingo, technology, and pop culture details also attract nostalgic millennials. Shun’s struggles with confidence, bullying, perfectionism, and extreme dietary control makes him relatable despite his elite abilities. Setbacks and triumphs on the path towards his ultimate goal feel vivid.

Stellar athletic visuals combined with the distinctly retro vibe makes rewatching Ganba! Fly High a true gem.

Watch Ganba! Fly High

6. Prince of Tennis (2001)


You may be surprised to see the massively popular tennis anime series Prince of Tennis on a gymnastics list. While not centered on gymnastics, one subplot arc focuses on lead Ryoma Echizen playing rhythmic gymnastics.

Several episodes humorously highlight his talent and friction with girl players as the only boy on a rhythmic gymnastics team. Prince of Tennis sells the visual comedy of the stoic Ryoma wielding ribbons, hoops, balls, and clubs. But it also displays proper technique and scoring rules.

For rhythmic gymnastics fans, seeing it spotlighted in a mainstream smash hit like Prince of Tennis is a treat. And the cameo leaves viewers wanting more legitimate rhythmic gymnastics anime.

7. Eyeshield 21 (2005)

Eyeshield 21

Like Prince of Tennis, American football anime Eyeshield 21 might seem an odd gymnastics addition. However, team manager Mamori Anezaki is a former rhythmic gymnast.

Her background subtly connects throughout the series by applying her flexibility, strength, and agility. Mamori across goal lines evokes classic rhythmic gymnast leaps. She wields football flags like ribbon wands which helps cement American football rules for newcomers.

Seeing Mamori bridge her gymnast past into a football present is rewarding for fans. Eyeshield 21 also stimulates interest in the real-life connections between athletes across sports.

8. Yowamushi Pedal (2013)


Sports anime favorite Yowamushi Pedal focuses on competitive road bicycle racing. Protagonist Sakamichi Onoda initially rides his simple steel momma-chari bicycle while commuting and running errands.

His impressive stamina and natural speed catch another student-cyclist's attention who realizes Onoda has untapped racing talent. The series then follows Onoda joining the school's biking team while upgrading to sleeker custom racing bikes. He aims towards competing nationally by harnessing his natural athletic capabilities through intense training.

The show shares core themes with beloved gymnastics anime by spotlighting an outcast protagonist discovering a passion for an individual sport. As Onoda races towards personal fulfillment, viewers are propelled to cheer his victories while relating to struggles.

9. Hajime no Ippo (2000)


Iconic boxing anime Hajime no Ippo also tells an against-the-odds story seen often in the gymnastics genre. Protagonist Ippo Makunouchi has no friends or hobbies between taking care of his ill mother and the family fishing business.

After suffering horrific bullying, boxer Takamura saves Ippo and decides to train him. Reluctant at first, Ippo discovers a natural talent and love for boxing despite lacking power, speed, or stamina at the start. Slowly he gains skills towards a lofty goal of becoming an elite level champion.

Parallels to gymnastics heroes are clear. Ippo must hone his body into top fighting condition through intense discipline like gymnasts developing bodily precision. Viewers grow attached to gentle Ippo similar to self-doubting yet determined athletes like Ganba's Shun.

10. Hungry Heart: Wild Striker (2002)

Wrapping up our list is beloved football anime Hungry Heart: Wild Striker. Similar to Eyeshield 21, Hungry Heart also links football athleticism with gymnastics. Supporting character Miki Tsujiwaki is a football team assistant manager. Yet she maintains her rhythmic gymnastics training to keep fit for assisting the intense sport demands.

Miki provides comic relief and moral support to protagonist Kyosuke along his difficult path towards soccer stardom. Her frequent stretching sessions and traditional apparatus practice emphasizes how skills transfer across different sports.

Hungry Heart insightfully shows individuals balancing multiple passions. While not its focus, Hungry Heart importantly features rhythmic gymnastics as supplemental for achieving all-around physical excellence.

Hungry Heart: Wild Striker

The Evolution of Gymnastics in Anime

Looking at these memorable gymnastics anime releases over the decades, the sport clearly resonates with Japanese animation creators and fans. Earlier titles like Hikari no Densetsu realistically dramatized gymnastics pursuit and competition during the sport's 1980s boom.

Classic sports manga-ka took inspiration from their own athletic backgrounds to portray beloved gymnast leads like Ganba's Olympic hopeful Shun. Iconic mega-hits like Prince of Tennis and Eyeshield 21 attractively featured rhythmic gymnastics to draw female readers.

Recent years saw a resurgence leading to current gymnastics-centric titles like Backflip!! as the Tokyo Olympics revived interest in the sport nationwide. The Gymnastics Samurai also demonstrates a hunger for more adult-oriented dramatic gymnast stories.

As athletes like Simone Biles make gymnastics even more high-profile worldwide, expect more niche gym anime to come. The blend of intense physical spectacle with interpersonal athletic drama seems perfect for the medium.

Inspiring Viewers On and Off Screen

Beyond exciting plots, the motivational influence these gymnastics anime provide viewers is invaluable. For fans, they invoke the watcher spirit - being inspired by athletes accomplishing the seemingly impossible through relentless effort. Gymnastics requires so much hardship behind star turns lasting seconds that viewers profoundly admire their perseverance.

The gymnast protagonists also stimulate young athletes. Watching their training journey gives kōhais tools for self-improvement and bonding with teammates. Beyond the mats, anyone can apply their optimistic perseverance towards life's ups and downs.

For newcomers, thrilling gymnastics anime opens up discovery of an amazing realm. The gravity-defying flips of Simone Biles or strength of Kōhei Uchimura suddenly doesn't feel so unfathomable seeing characters animate those once-unimaginable skills.

Final Thoughts on the Best Anime About Gymnastics

Japanese animation excels at conveying stories of underdog triumph through passionate dedication. So the squeeze gymnastics training and complex competition into brief captivating episodes makes for inspiring viewing.

If you feel the past years lacked sports anime excitement, definitely check out these recent inventive gymnast series! The combination of YouTube compilation-style bite-size digestible drama blended with visual spectacle explain their infectious appeal. Furthermore, fantastic retro titles deserve a fresh look to appreciate their influence on modern gym shows.

Watching characters develop self-confidence, trust in teammates, and pursue lofty dreams resonates universally. As the public rediscovers artistic excellence in athletics from Tokyo 2020 stars, gymnastics anime delivers youthful hope. Through imaginative animation, the sky remains the limit for daring gymnast dreams.

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