Salaryman’s Club Proves Adults Deserve Great Sports Anime Too

Most sports anime focus on characters in high school, but Salaryman’s Club refreshingly shines the spotlight on adults.

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Salaryman’s Club, Episode 1, “Assignment,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Fans have been inundated with a large number of sports anime, with the most successful series being Haikyuu!!, Kuroko no Basket, Free!, Prince of Tennis and Yuri!!! On Ice. Most of these sports stories focus on characters still in high school with very few, like Yuri!!! On Ice, featuring characters who are adults. It seems like once high school is over, sports just fade into the background amid the busy corporate life of suits and ties. However, that’s not the case for the newest anime to stream on Crunchyroll.

Salaryman’s Club brings sports back into the adult world in the form of corporate sports, where people are often hired to compete for the company and not necessarily to be employees. Protagonist Mikoto Shiratori is a badminton prodigy who refuses to play doubles due to a past traumatic experience. Salaryman’s Club brings a more adult flair to familiar elements of sports anime that are typically seen in high school, making it a series to keep an eye out for.

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salarymans club mikoto trauma

After getting fired from the badminton team of Mitsuhoshi Bank, Mikoto returned home utterly despondent. However, he got a second chance with an offer from Sunlight Beverage — but it’s to play doubles rather than his preferred singles. Before he can get onto the court, Mikoto meets his partner Tatsuru Miyazumi, who takes him on a tour around the company. Mikoto is clearly not very used to the corporate life, making mistakes such as forgetting his business cards or getting client names incorrect.

Salaryman’s Club‘s story goes down familiar territory afterward, with Mikoto insisting he doesn’t play doubles even though the coach said that he was more suited for it than singles. There are hints that Mikoto’s high school partner was hurt during a match, either by Mikoto himself or because he wasn’t there in time to help. The incident evidently left a devastating impact on him, since he has now turned his back on playing doubles ever again.

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Tatsuru makes a deal with Mikoto: they’ll play each other in a single match. If Mikoto wins, he’ll get to play singles; but if Tatsuru wins, the two will become partners. Animation in sports anime is sometimes hit or miss — especially for original anime — but it’s quite well done here and is reminiscent of the shots performed in Haikyuu!! With its focus on overhead shots, defense, and Tatsuru’s declaration that the game is only done when he lets the shuttlecock drop, echoing Coach Ukai’s words.

The match veers into a more supernatural direction when it’s revealed that Mikoto has an ability to predict his opponent’s moves known as Foresight. His observation skills being elevated into some kind of superpower is a detail that fans of Kuroko no Basket might find some familiarity in.

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salarymans club mikoto foresight

Mikoto’s Foresight proves an enormous strength but soon enough, Tatsuru learns to counter it by moving in exactly the opposite way of where Mikoto would expect. It proves that his gift would be a huge advantage if he was playing doubles, as his partner would be able to cover up his gaps. After some intense rallies, Mikoto loses the game and ends up becoming Tatsuru’s partner.

Salaryman’s Club makes use of themes commonly seen in sports anime, such as teamwork and building trust between partners. Some of the characters like Mikoto are typical archetypes that most fans have seen before, but there is something inherently refreshing to see these in an adult. It’ll be interesting to see how Salaryman’s Club will make itself stand out in the sports anime genre.

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