Hello, hello, hello and welcome back to Otaku Thursday! Can you believe it’s already the second week of March and this is the real first Otaku Thursday I’m doing this month? No? ME TOO! Instead of bringing you an anime review I thought we could talk about something else–something that’s been on my mind (thanks a lot SK8) — and that is drama and sports anime. Or rather, drama in sports anime. You know what I mean–the friendship, the jealousy, the ‘friendly’ rivalries we see. I want to look at why some of these things just work SO well and why I love to see it. So without further ado, let’s hunker down and get into it.
So. Friendship in sports anime. Let’s start here because that’s where they all begin. Okay maybe not all of them, but some of my favorites. Like Sk8–or Hoshiai no Sora. They all start with friendship–aka the main characters start off on good terms. Sometimes it’s a newfound friendship, other times its actually an established friendship. Either way, things start on okay terms. Usually the friendship is great–it builds each other up, they inspire each other to do better and push harder. Think Reki & Langa from Sk8 or Toma and Maki from Hoshiai no Sora. Hell–even Yuni and Haijima from 2.43. All of them make great teams–though of course both Hoshiai no Sora and 2.43 are actually team sports whereas SK8 is a solo sport (skateboarding, obviously). Still, in all three of these anime, the aforementioned duos tend to work mainly to get each other excited about said sport–which is a delight to see. It’s such a great basis for the friends to like actually enjoy doing the sport together and want to do better together. However…because all sports anime need drama, there’s usually one of them who is better than the other…which is where the jealousy comes in.
Jealousy tends to cause rifts–we know this. And it always comes from one of the friends being so much better at the sport. And you know, that’s fair. Because we see this thing happen in non-sports anime too. But a jealousy plot line can be handled many ways. There’s the typical thing — the plain straight up ‘I am jealous and therefore I want to be rivals with you/am gonna be mean to you’. I feel like in the 2000s, this was the jealousy trope you so often saw in any competition or sports anime. However, the trope I enjoy more is the one I find in titles like Sk8 (though it brings me pain)–where jealousy actually causes the less talented one to feel bad. The reason why I enjoy this more is because it signals one thing and one thing that we love here on You Can’t Know: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. That’s right, it means that while a character may be lost due to jealousy, jealousy in itself can actually be a great motivator to find oneself and to find their motivation. Example from this anime season being 2.43. While Yuni feels useless due to Haijima’s raw talent, he realizes how stupid he’s being and jumps back into it with a new determination. Because at the end of the day it’s more about bettering themselves and their jealousy stems from within. That’s why it’s so great to see them come to terms with it and get their head back in the game. Which can lead to healthy rivalry. Which what I see of Toma and Maki–Toma realizes Maki is great, and while they are partners first and foremost–you can tell Toma is constantly pushing himself to keep up with Maki. Friggin brilliant.
Or a not healthy rivalry…like honestly every time I watch a sports anime that is heavy on the drama, I get nervous whether or not the rivalry is going to go good or sour. Cause like honestly–both are hella entertaining to watch, one is just more heartbreaking. And you know, I’m loving this cycle though–the friendship turned sour by jealousy and then either the fall or rise of a hero into either healthy rivalry or into like, the Sasuke of the story. Still, no matter what, it’s SO much fun to watch these kinds of stories in a sports anime. Either way, there’s hella good character development and that’s what I love.