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Traditional Games and Success in Anime

June 27, 2013 By: Nopy Category: Anime


Sports anime used to be a mainstay of the anime industry with huge titles such as Slam Dunk, Captain Tsubasa, and Prince of Tennis. Nowadays you don’t see as many sports anime, but their influence lives on through anime based on what I would consider traditional games. When I talk about traditional games, I’m not so much referring to old games, but ones that you would expect seniors to play during their free time. Games such as go, mahjong, and karuta tend to have more aged players due to stereotypes, though a number of young people do gain interest in them. Despite the stereotypes associated with these games, they have spawned very popular anime such as Hikaru no Go, Saki, and Chihayafuru. What made them so popular, and can that be applied to any game?


When you compare anime like Hikaru no Go, Saki, and Chihayafuru to anime like Slam Dunk, Captain Tsubasa, and Prince of Tennis you start to notice major similarities between all of them. One of them is that of a talented underdog making his or her way up the ladder and facing tougher opponents over time. Not only do you get to learn about the game, but you get to see more and more intense battles every episode. This keeps the series interesting even though it could technically go on forever.

Another thing that these game anime have borrowed from sports anime is the strategic monologue. These are always delivered in such a way that no matter what the players are doing, it seems shocking. Everything from the simplest placement of a piece to the swift movements needed to snatch a card are explained in so much detail within the monologues that to the viewer it feels like a highly complex and complicated move. I think this really helps bring excitement to any series, as proven by all of the titles mentioned earlier.


Now can these aspects make any game, bingo for instance, interesting? Like go, mahjong, and karuta, bingo is stereotyped as a slow game for older people but it can be rather involved. As many people have discovered after watching anime based on go, mahjong, and karuta, those games are actually very tense and involve a lot of strategy. Similarly, bingo can be tense and involve strategy too, which you can see for yourself by trying it out at With the right execution, a bingo anime could become as popular as Hikaru no Go, Saki, or Chihayafuru.

Those who are still skeptical about whether aspects of sports anime can be applied to any game might want to consider watching Yakitate Japan. By most standards, it is a sports anime, but without the sport. Instead, it is about baking bread. If baking bread can be made into a popular and exciting anime, then I’m sure anything is possible.

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6 Comments to “Traditional Games and Success in Anime”

  1. Cross Games was the last sports anime I actually gave 10/10. It was amazing and cant believe how relatively low profile it has.

    I think the problem with sports anime is that well they simply dont sell well bar the titles you mentioned but its such a small proportion compared to the other genre of anime. With most of the fans in Japan liking mostly ecchi content and such, will definitely make it difficult for them if not open minded in terms of variety like these kind of anime and hence have more of the producers create more sports anime. I guess its a niche category.

    Im being bias of course but I quite stand firm to my point.
    Fabrice recently posted..Pokemon Is When It All Began

    • I think one of the reasons why some games anime that aren’t sports do so well is because they also have an element of luck to them that isn’t totally unbelievable.

  2. I enjoy watching most sports/games anime for the adrenaline rush. I believe that’s important and is a success factor. Newer titles like Kuroko no Basuke and Chihayfuru kept me at my seat’s edge every time the team enters a competition. The original Saki did keep me excited about the matches but the spin-off didn’t manage to pull that off; hence, less interest.
    hoshiko recently posted..Ramblings on OreImo2

    • Ah yes, the adrenaline rush is a major aspect of sports anime. I think an anime would be able to gather a large fanbase even if it’s not sports related as long as it can induce some excitement in people.

  3. A sports anime here and there is nice, but I need more than seeing too long matches ^^ Ookiku Furikabutte is a great example of sports anime I like.

    I also love Chihayafuru, but after the first season and most of season two I still don’t understand much of it. In S2 it’s even worse, even when it became the main focus.

    Im not sure if a game mainly based on coincidence like Bingo would work in anime, like a regular sport anime. Well, maybe with comedy, but not as standalone theme.
    Wieselhead recently posted..New Preorders part 20

    • You could be right about Bingo, but I’m sure many people would’ve said the same thing about baking bread before Yakitate Japan was created. I think with the right characters and execution you could make anything exciting.


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