Expanding focus from “sports” to “sports and recreation”

a stacking game and playing cards from “Waiting in the Summer”

In one of my first posts on this blog in early 2015, I wrote about what I considered when characterizing a particular anime or manga as a “sports” series. I asserted that a key element was “physical and analog effort in competition with others, usually under a set of established rules” and said that definition included traditional sporting activities — baseball, soccer, and volleyball among others — along with karuta but excluded more game-like activities such as go, shogi, card battles, and mahjong as well as non-competitive examples of martial arts.

A couple people left comments on that post asking why I separated karuta from other card games and saying that sports-focused and games-focused series “tend to share thematic threads and carry the same historical influences”. I had tried to haphazardly craft a guideline to fit the particular athletic disciplines I had already accepted as “sports” and I now regret using that method.

Almost two years later, I am revising that previous “sports” scope into a broader “sports and recreation” one that covers table games including shogi, mahjong, and go; outdoor pursuits including mountain climbing and hiking; competitive hobbies including model kit mecha battles and trading card games; and an assortment of other activities.

I plan to write many “home stretch” posts for fall 2016 anime series that have varied subjects including rugby, exercising, volleyball, shogi, wrestling, and figure skating. Expect to see those over the next few weeks.

Anime Boston 2016’s “Field Day” theme and related events

Anime Boston 2016 happens this weekend at the Hynes Convention Center starting Friday March 25th and this year’s theme is “Field Day”, inspired by an annual intramural competition event that often occurs in Japanese schools. Anime Boston previously had a general “sports” theme for 2005 and so did Fanime in 2012 but both conventions lacked significant programming around that theme in those particular years. The convention’s official YouTube channel has a number of videos showing its mascots (A-chan and B-kun) participating in various activities, some in wackier ways than others.

a moment from “Anime Boston 2016 Explains Baseball” promo video

I counted at least ten different sporting-related panels & programming items on this year’s schedule — I’ve listed them below with scheduled times, descriptions, and locations — and there will likely be a number of cosplayers and fan artists showing their love for recent series involving fictional athletes. I hope those planning to attend the convention have a safe and fun time there and in the general Boston area!
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New arrivals: SpoAni! issues 1 & 2

The popularity of high-profile sports anime has grown in recent years and generated more interest in the sports those series portray. In an attempt to get in on this boom, Shufu to Seikatsusha has published two issues of Spo-Ani!, a “sports animation magazine”, so far in the past 6 months. I received my copies of issues one & two today from Amazon Japan and had some time to flip through them.

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Two sports series on home video from FUNimation this June

The second quarter of 2015 in Region 1 home video releases just got two more sports anime additions as FUNimation announced today it plans to put out Ping Pong the Animation and Wanna Be The Strongest in the World! this June in Blu-ray/DVD combo packs featuring English & Japanese voice tracks.

Those two bring the total number of sports series with home video released currently scheduled in the next three months to five:

April 28th: Free! Season 1 DVD (sub-only; Discotek)
May 12nd: Slam Dunk DVD set 1 (dub & sub; Cinedigm)
June 2nd: Haikyu!! Blu-ray Collection 1, DVD Collection 1 (sub-only; Sentai Filmworks)
June 2nd: Wanna be the Strongest in the World! Blu-Ray/DVD Combo set (dub & sub; FUNimation)
June 23rd: Ping Pong the Animation Blu-ray/DVD Combo set (dub & sub; FUNimation)

Initial Slam Dunk & Haikyu!! Region 1 sets scheduled

There are a couple of sports anime series that have North American disc releases scheduled in coming months: Slam Dunk on May 12th and Haikyu!! on June 2nd.

Cinedigm’s first Slam Dunk DVD set was originally scheduled to come out last December but that month passed with no updates about a revised date until recently when the current May date appeared on Rightstuf and other retail sites. The set is listed with 14 episodes and English & Japanese language tracks; the English dub to be included is suspected to be the same as what was previously released in the mid-2000’s by Toei.

The first subtitled-only DVD and Blu-ray collections for Haikyu!! were included in Sentai Filmworks’ June 2015 releases announcement in late Februrary and will have the first 13 episodes of season 1. The other season 1 set would presumably have the remaining 12 episodes (14 through 25). A second season of the high school volleyball series has been green-lit.