In the previous post, we established the Premise of Creating a sports show. If you haven’t yet read it, then click HERE. This will look into the actual elements of a sports genre anime story, the order of events of which our protagonist or favoured sports team will pass through.
Be aware, from now on, this will contain spoilers to most sports stories.
I suggest reading this either from a story teller’s perspective who simply want to know how to formulate an animated sports story, or who has seen it and wants to notice the same pattern of some of the shows they may have already seen. With that in mind…
First Practice Game
Your team will have a practice game. This practice game may be team A vs. team B. It may against a different school, or local rival team. This may occur once or more.
The teamwork will be sloppy. The plays won’t always work. But our hero will be provided with opportunities to shine and for others to recognise his or the teams talents. This practice will serve as an opportunity to create rivals for our hero.
A rival is someone who (in our story) pushes our hero to crave success, through the desire of beating said rival. It is up to you whether our Protagonist’s team wins or loses.
The First Tournament
There is a tournament around the corner when our team isn’t fully prepared . Our team demonstrates its tenacity to win, struggling for victory. The teams they face are on par or slightly inferior to our team, giving them a taste of victory.
In this tournament, they will face their rival. With their unprepared team, they are defeated. Together with the protagonist, we feel the pressure of losing. Our team may lose because there was a key player missing. Or because the rival used a trump card to our synchronised combo. Other shows allows the protagonists’ team to proceed, though in recent shows, that’s often more rare than common.
An example to this rarity is Yowamushi Pedal (focused on cycling). The team compete through different stages, rather than knockout tournaments, due to the competition being one giant race. They lose certain stages of the race. Those stages give the racers an edge for who leads the next day.
Bigger Tournament Ahead
The team despairs, but are reminded that wasn’t the last tournament. There is a bigger event occurring, which will be their absolute last shot. For some sports shows, particularly football, it could be they must win all games to pass the group stages. This story element can be skipped, depending on the sport.
Once the team has met defeat, there is a period of growth. This is where skills are enhanced, teamwork is polished, and new characters and team players are introduced. Regardless of what the writer decides, this moment is for them to grow and mature together or separately. It can be the whole team, or just one character.
The team and the coach will work on their weaknesses (which gave them the loss for the first tournament), and come back new.
This time can also provide new teammates. Team members, who once left, but came back. Or, the team can benefit from the newly acquired technique of one of its bench warmers, which will be clutch during the second tournament. Either way, their newly found technique or new team member must be the key to a stronger team.
Because of the Japanese school system, third years in High School need to prepare for university should they choose to go (although unless it’s for the purpose of building character, it’s almost always implied they will). These third years face the hard decision of leaving the club, to study for exams, or take their one final shot at conquering the biggest tournament of the year. You know the answer to that.
If your story is not based in high school, perhaps coming back to the idea of having someone who has a limited time on the team, and the team must work their hardest to make their teammates dreams true. It’s also appropriate to have a breathing space, between all the harsh tournament matches, whereby they can enjoy activities outside of the sport, right before the second, and final tournament.
Next time, I’ll talk you through the second tournament and narratives beyond the tournament (should you wish to include some).
Fig. 1 – Screenshot from (https://)images.8tracks.com/cover/i/005/469/780/sports-anime-hell-3301.png?rect=0,0,500,500&q=98&fm=jpg&fit=max
Fig. 2 – Screenshot from Haikyuu
Fig. 3 – Screenshot from Eyeshield 21
Kuroko no Basket
Hajime no Ippo
Diamond no Ace
Prince of Tennis