by Old_Anime_Lady, September 25, 2020

I had the itch to write again, but I could not settle on a topic. Did I want to do a movie review? Did I want to do another Fan guide? So I turned to the feeds to give me a topic. They gave me sports so today I will talk about all the PHYSICAL Sports titles I have seen whether I found them good or bad, thrilling or toast (as in boring as...).

My criteria are:

  1. No martial arts (that's a different article)
  2. Must be a physical sport, so no card game/mind game/death game (different articles)
  3. Must be about the sport, not, for example, a Terminal illness story about a surfer that you see him surfing 2 times the whole movie does not count.
  4. I must have watched it (well duh but trying to be clear)

These are in American Alphabetical order (as opposed to any other language). I will include (as always) my rating, MDL's rating and my mini-review.   

Also for those that don't know me, I tend to score high here is my scale

  • - Not worth the air the actors breathed while making this.
  • - Waste of digital space
  • - This sux
  • - Look at the picture, read the synopsis, you get more out of it than the actual drama/movie 
  • - This is bad
  • - Watchable
  • - Mediocre 
  • - Recommended watching
  • - Almost great
  • 10 - Everyone should watch it
    * A pretty face may cause the score to be 1-1.5 higher than the title's ok I am at peace with my shallowness

1 Pound no Fukuin (2008) Drama

If you know me at all, you know why I watched this (hint look at my avatar). This is a sports comedy about boxing and a boxer with no motivation to stay in his weight division because he LOVES to eat.  He finds his angel in the form a nun.  He falls in love with the sister not realizing what her oath was and pursued her romantically.

Hatanaka Kosaku is a talented boxer who turned pro at the age of 19, winning his debut match with a first-round KO. He is talented, but he has no guts. His uncontrollable appetite is an even bigger problem. He can't put himself in the right weight class, he runs out of energy because of hunger, and he gets knocked out while his eyes are set on food at the ringside. However, Kosaku's life changed when he met Sister Angela, a novice nun in the convent near his boxing gym. She became the source of his power, and Kosaku fights only to win her heart.

My  Rating:  8.5/10 (yep, I love Kame)
Ratings: 7.3/10 from 3,197 user


Ashita No Joe (2011) Movie

From what I remember from this movie was I was not impressed and something about the lighting and the story not being as smooth as it could have been. The director and scriptwriters relied too much on the audience being familiar with the manga. While I did watch Hajime no Ippo, I was not familiar with Ashita no Joe's storyline.

Joe Yabuki is an aimless young man who runs away from an orphanage with no money and no place to stay. He runs into a former boxing trainer, Danpei, who still has a strong passion for boxing. Danpei watches Joe fight and regains his desire to train future boxers. Joe, however, does not have any interest in boxing until he ends up in a juvenile prison where he meets Rikiishi, a former boxing prodigy. They quickly develop a rivalry and a newfound interest in boxing overcomes everybody in the prison, including Joe.

My Rating:  8.5/10 (Yes, I know these numbers contradict my review - look at my avatar)
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 993 users

Tags: (probably need updating but I would have to rewatch -adds to list of MDL tasks)

Buzzer Beat (2009) Drama

I could write a whole article on this drama, but I will spare you. It is a romance title between a basketball player in his slump and an aspiring violinist—one of the best cuddle scenes in all of J-drama-land AND the cutest secondary couple. The last couple episodes add unnecessary drama, but it still does not remove it from my re-watch list.

Kamiya Naoki is a young player from a professional basketball team. But due to his relatively smaller size and his tendency to crack under pressure, he is unable to show his true skills on the court. Meanwhile, Shirakawa Riko is a cheerful, strong-spirited music college graduate aiming to become a professional violinist. One day, Riko finds Naoki's lost cell phone on a bus, and their meeting begins a friendship that eventually turns into love. However, Naoki was already considering marriage with his current girlfriend. And it doesn't help matters that Naoki's coach has fallen in love at first sight with Riko!

My Rating:  8.5/10
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 8,440 users


Why do we have 2 tags for "Secondary couple"... things to ponder...

Kimi ni Sasageru Emblem (2017) Drama Special

This is based on the true story of Kyotani Kazuyuki who went to the Olympics twice representing Japan in 2 different sports.  When an actor is willing to take on and show the emotional stages of a disability, I applaud them. Sakurai did excellent portraying everything from disbelief, anger, despair, acceptance and finally coping. This truly is a story of "If life gives you Lemons... become a multi-million dollar trendy lemonade seller!"

Kazuya Takajo (Sho Sakurai) was a promising soccer player. At the age of 23, he was selected for the national A football team and he bought a house to live with his fiancé Miki Nakagawa (Masami Nagasawa). One day, Kazuya Takajo gets into a car accident and becomes paralyzed. He must now spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He falls into deep despair. At that time, Miki shows him their marriage certificate. Kazuya goes through rehab on the strength of his wife's love. Yet, he becomes frustrated by those opposed to his marriage with Miki and others who give him pity looks. He also can't find anything to replace soccer in his life. Kazuya then witnesses a wheelchair basketball game at a gym.

My Rating:  9/10
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 239 users


Kisarazu Cat's Eye (Drama+2 Movies)

So when I first started watching, I was like what in the HELL is this $%^$&. Now It is one of my favorite comedic stories in Jdrama-land. Yeah, I picked it up for Sakurai (who plays Bambi), but I returned for the movies just to hang with familiar friends : )  

Twenty-one year old former high school baseball player, Kohei (nickname: Bussan), learns that he is dying from cancer. He is told that he only has six months to live, and decides that he wants to do something daring and risky. He proposes to five trusted members from his former baseball club that they form a ring of cat burglars that would steal from those who commit crimes. His friends think it odd, but feel they cannot turn down a dying man's request. With only six months, how much could they do anyway?

My Rating:  8/10
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 899 users


Kizuna no Pedal (2019) Drama Special

At this point in the article, I think you can see why I watched these titles, and this one was no exception, watched for Aiba, and this, too is based on a real person.  It was a good story; it was neither good nor bad; it just was.

The drama depicts his promise to his mother to become number one, and how he overcomes the hardships to achieve it. However, his mother suffers a liver sickness, needing a transplant to save her life. However, becoming her donor would be parting with his career as an athlete... A man who fought to believe in his future, and a mother who believed in her son's future and supported him. The story of the bond between a mother and her son. ~~ Based on the life story of the famous Japanese racing cyclist Miyazawa Takashi

My Rating:  8/10
Ratings: 7.5/10 from 17 users


Marathon (2007) Drama Special

Yeah, uh, I love Nino, but I am wondering if the Korean version from 2005 is better. If you want to a spectacular performance of Nino playing a similar role I recommend Door to Door.

Remake of the 2005 South Korean movie "Marathon",  this special is about an autistic boy guided by his mother and his coach in training for a marathon

My Rating:  7/10
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 240 users



Ping Pong (2002) Movie

I liked this movie cause it highlights that even if you have a natural talent, you still need to work at it or those that work hard will pass you up. It's not a message you see every day. It is a spectacular masterpiece in movie circles... no. But the lesson is not cookie cutter. So higher marks from me for not being THE SAME.

 As children, the introverted Smile was being bullied by a gang of kids until the brash Peco comes by and chases all of them them away. Peco then takes Smile under his wings and teaches him how to play the game of ping pong. From there a life long best friend relationship comes into existence between these two polar opposite kids. Fast forward a decade later, Smile and Peco are now about to compete in a high stakes regional ping pong tournament. While Peco has always wanted to be the best ping pong player in the world, he has never had the drive to fully devote himself to the game. Rather than finding him practicing in the high school gym you would more often than not find Peco hustling other kids out of money at the local ping pong parlor. This is in contrast with Smile, who has the god given talents to actually become the world's best ping pong player, but is too humble to destroy his opponents. More often than not he allows his opponents to win points and even entire games out of sympathy for them. Now these two best friends try to deal with their own inner turmoils, as they move further and further into the regional ping pong tournament. Peco has to overcome a knee injury while trying to rediscover the fun aspects of the game of Ping Pong. Meanwhile, Smile now seems to have gained the killer instinct by going through a rigorous training regiment instilled by his high school coach. As the tournament progresses it becomes more likely that these two best friends will face off against each in the final match 


My Rating: 8.5/10
Ratings: 7.5/10 from 267 users


Pride (2004) Drama

I was hesitant to watch it for reasons I don't remember right now, and I can tell you the first 6-7 episodes is one the best Adult romance stories EVAH!!! And then the rest of the drama happened... unnecessary drama and super rushed ending that was such a failure for the EPIC-NESS of the first episodes.  I highly recommend this, just be ready for FF the last few eps until the last 7 minutes of the last ep.

Halu is the captain and star player of an ice hockey team, who is greatly respected by his teammates. For him, hockey is serious business that fully occupies his mind, while he treats romance as if it were a game. Aki is a typical office lady, and is waiting for her boyfriend to return from studying architecture abroad. At this point in time however, he shows no sign of coming back. One day, Aki's friends who are determined to find her a new boyfriend, invite her to watch an ice hockey game. There she sees Halu for the first time. 

My Rating:  7.5/10
Ratings: 8.4/10 from 3,363 users


Regatta (2006) Drama 

TOAST. Like not even crunchy toast... this is the toaster broke, and you have colored floppy white bread.  The rating was so bad they cut the number of episodes and cancelled the show early. Picked up for Matsuda Shota. And regretted it when nothing happened even though the actors were moving on the screen.

Makoto is a promising oarsman at a University regatta team. One day, he loses his best friend by a tragic accident which he believes and blames himself for the very cause. Although he once leaves the team out of tremendous sense of responsibility, he finally decides to return by the encouragement of Misao and his teammates, and moreover, for the love and passion of regatta. He is determined than ever to become a top class oarsman and struggles to fulfill his dream to participate in the Olympic games. Through the severe practices and competitions of regatta, Makoto learns the bitterness and difficulties of life. Rivalry with teammates, agonies of love and friendship... The first ever drama of the rising actor Hayami to perform as the leading role! - TV Asahi  

My Rating:  6/10
Ratings: 6.7/10 from 284 users


ROOKIES (2008) Drama

Sadly by the time I got around to watching this, it had become a formula, and I was bored. Combines Yankis and baseball and school. And hits every trope like a checkbox. The cast is full of ikemen though, and it helped me trudge through to the end. The predictable end. So honestly this was on me and the fact I had hit my fill of the high school sports formulae.

Koichi Kawato is the new Japanese Literature teacher at the ill-famed Futakotamagawa high school, whose baseball club is composed of thugs and bullies who have been suspended for a year from all school competitions, for causing a brawl during an official match. The newly appointed teacher finds that the club members left are only interested in women, smoking and doing nothing until, under Kawato's guidance, they discover their dream of going to the Koshien high school baseball tournament. However, the road to Koshien is far from easy as many obstacles await them.

My Your Rating:  7.5/10
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 1,639 users


Suikyuu Yankees (2014) Drama

Suggested to me while looking for Yanki dramas (which this is not) and if you haven't watched a ton of school sports dramas, with the same message. OR if you love one of these ikemen, it might rank higher for you.  This was the last one I sat through, and I think, for a while, I need to spend some time away from this genre since I am no longer able to be objective. However, the special attack was funny.

Inaba Naoya, who grew up abroad, admires Yankees because of the amount of comic books he read. One day, he finally arrives in Japan to attend high school for one year. He chooses a run-down school which is full of delinquent (yankee-like) students. Soon he realizes that they were all just problematic youths, nothing more. He then decides to rebuild water polo club, the sport he likes, so that they will finally have a purpose to focused on.

My Your Rating:  7.5/10
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 816 users


The Vancouver Asahi (2014) Movie

Based on true events about a struggling, all Japanese baseball team in Vancouver right before Pearl Harbor happened. People whose dream was to start a new life, in a new country, faced with racism and prejudice. My heart breaks a little just talking about it.  

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team consists of 2nd generation Japanese immigrants living in Canada. They play within a local amateur baseball league. The team got popular due to their fair play spirit, while struggling to fight against discrimination and poverty in their everyday lives. Reji is a 2nd generation Japanese immigrant who works at a sawmill in Vancouver. He is the leader of the team and plays shortstop. Roi is the team's ace pitcher and works at a fishery field. Kei is the team's 2nd baseman and co-worker of Reiji. Tom is the catcher and works at a tofu shop. Frank works at a hotel and plays baseball with the team.

My Rating:  8.5/10
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 148 users


Tumbling (2010) Dramas

If you think Yankis becoming gymnasts to get girls sounds hilarious, you'd be correct. Like every element seems to fall into place to make this a great drama. I was super skeptical, BUT I promise you it is worth a watch.

All hell breaks loose at a local high school when a very effete men’s tumbling and rhythmic gymnastics club is suddenly joined by a gang of the school’s “baddest” boys, and proceed to make believers out of everybody around them. Casting a spotlight on the Japanese-born sport of men’s rhythmic gymnastics, Tumbling is an uplifting and inspirational passion-of-youth drama about true friendship, dreams and the wonders of hard work. In fact, all the actors underwent rigorous gymnastics training so they could perform their stunts. But will they all be tumbling like pros by the end of their dramatic run?  

My Rating:  8.5/10
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 3,012 users


V no Arashi (1999) Drama

Their very first drama together and well you can tell its the beginning and typical high school drama plot. Friendship! Teamwork! Banzai! But if you want to be a card-carrying Arashi Super Fan, it is a must-see (LOL).

Ninomiya Kazunari  just moved into Tokyo from Hokkaido and is already looking for a girlfriend. When he sees his so called "soulmate", Aiba Miwa, he immediately wants to get close to her. He joins the volleyball team, thinking there was a boys team. He soon discovers that there was no boys team and becomes the manager of the girls team alongside Matsumoto Jun and Ohno Satoshi.  

My Rating:  6/10
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 171 users


Yowakutemo Katemasu (2014) Drama

Typical High school sports drama until it is not. No Spoilers because this is NOT like the others. And like I stated before if you break the mould and do things differently than everyone else you win points from me. AND because school sports drama is SO Formulaic, the ending to this will hit you like a mack truck. I OFC will praise Nino's acting skills, but I am a FAN, so please come to your own conclusions.

Backdrop of drama series is at a fictional school which sends many students to Tokyo University every year. Aoshi (Kazunari Ninomiya) is a new teacher. He becomes the baseball coach for the school. The baseball team has only 5 players and has never won since the team began. Aoshi and his players make a goal to win the Japan High School Baseball Championship.  

My Rating:  8.5/10
Ratings: 7.6/10 from 514 users 


I hope you enjoyed my little spotlight on the Sports titles I have watched and maybe you'll decide to watch a few. Let me know in the comments, Did I skip one you have seen? Do you feel differently about my rating? Let's Dish. : )

Edited by: Yuanwei (1st editor)