While there are multiple shonen sports anime airing during the spring 2021 season, perhaps the most interesting one (in concept at least) is Burning Kabaddi. In this series, our main character is Tatsuya, who used to be the star of his junior high soccer club until a series of incidents made him quit and have a sour taste in his mouth towards sports in general.
When he gets to high school, Tatsuya just wants to be left alone and become a popular web streamer. Instead, he gets invited to attend a practice session for his school’s kabaddi club. After witnessing an intense practice session (with a little blackmail from the captain for good measure), Tatsuya finally agrees to join the team.
Burning Kabaddi will run for 12 episodes, which means it will end around the beginning of June 2021.
Originally a manga created by Hajime Musashino, Burning Kabaddi has been running on the Ura Sunday website since July 2015 and has been collected in 15 volumes in Japan so far. Unfortunately, the series has yet to be licensed in English by anyone.
The anime adaptation was first announced to exist in July 2020, and soon afterward further details were announced. TMS Entertainment produces the anime with Kazuya Ichikawa serving as the director, working off scripts written by Yuko Kakihara and character designs by Mari Takada. Crunchyroll has licensed the series for streaming release outside of Asia, but unfortunately, there is no legal way to stream the series in India, which is ironic since kabaddi is a very popular sport there. In terms of reception, Burning Kabaddi was nominated for the 66th annual Shogakukan Manga Award in 2020 in the shonen category but didn’t win.
I’ll be totally honest; I didn’t like the first episode of Burning Kabaddi. It was boring, ugly, and I disliked the way that the main character was forced into joining the kabaddi team at his high school. It definitely didn’t sit right with me in any way, and it didn’t appear that the second episode was going to change that opinion.