I want to go into this first by mentioning that I am not the largest sports anime or manga expert at all. If you want, I can point you to people who trully are experts in this genre. By myself, I’ve only watched a small amount of them compared to the huge surplus of sports related media that exists in anime and manga. Still, the one-year thing is something that I’ve noticed in a lot of the sports and sports adjacent anime that follow a certain tournament arc flow. The tournament arc where the main protagonist are the under dogs of the universe and have to fight their way up winning against one opponent after another until they are the winner. I am also throwing in things like Angelic Layer and the two Gundam Build Fighters series to that list. They usually go for a year of in story content, and then stop. What’s up with that?
Yes, I know that I am writing this in complete ignorance because not every series does this. Pokemon kind of/sort of fits in this genre and it’s been ongoing for years. Yu-gi-oh could be called in this sports/game tournament thing and it also has multiple seasons and series. Chihayafuru is going through all the high school years and could go longer if it wanted to. Hikaru No Go skipped the high school tournament thing completely and focused on Hikaru going pro instead. Yowa Mushi Pedal goes on for multiple seasons and years too. So yes, there are sports or sports adjacent series that go beyond a year of in school time. That doesn’t shake the problem of this continuing to happening.
Is this really a problem? Yes but also no. This supposed “One Year Issue” is one of those situations which come with a lot more nuance then this is just bad. The want to see of seeing these characters involved in the following year in a different capacity is a good thing in its own right. The viewer is invested in these characters and their story. The mangaka and their crew achieved their goal and got their readers to love their story as much as they did from putting their well-earned efforts. That is a positive. It is also a way for the fans to make their own series loving communities and create their own stories based around these characters too. There are some very questionable interactions that can come from overzealous fans, but in general I think most fan connections from those series are good no matter how naught they might seem..
There is also the concept of these series to consider too. A lot of these series involve the underdog, right? That’s why you cheer for the team or players in question here. A team of people who used to have the legacy of being great or the best there was. Now, they are looked down on by all the other teams who are the current best. The new rookies that appeared give this team some way to get to that top and earn that reputation again. Something which happens, because otherwise there is no reason to watch the series. You can also say the same thing happening for newly formed teams with no reputation behind them. It’s a good and enduring story set up and once the team is at the top, what happens now?
All of that that kind of leads to what I think would be interesting if sports series went beyond one year in school time. A little bit of a reason why I get upset at shows ending so soon. There is an have an established cast of characters from the main cast and rivals now. The protagonists are at the top and must somehow work to maintain this new status quo with the third years gone and new first years appearing. A series with that cast keeping their place at the top would be interesting to say the least. Especially to prove that what happened wasn’t just lightning in a bottle. Or what about if what happened the previous year was a lightning in a bottle senario. What if there is character drama of this cast not performing to expectations again? There is a lot of sports media for people and teams gaining prominence, not them losing it. Wouldn’t that be interesting.
Well, the result of that can be a mixed bag too I suppose. Once again, I am not a sports media sort of person that watches a lot of sports movies either, but I can provide an example of that later part happening and it turning out not that great. Major League and Major League 2. Major League was a great movie about the raise of the Cleveland Indians from a team no one in their home town likes to a team that wins the World Series. A team of nobodies and has beens did that. Major League 2 followed that by immediately placing with the same team except everyone has an ego from winning and forgets about team work. It’s just not that interesting and plain awful, but it was very ambitious for a sports movie. Too bad about the execution though. Not everyone likes to watch a cast of assholes being complete assholes to each other.
There is the case for the One Year Issue as well. If the creator did make more, there is a possibility of not all ideas not working and everyone hating it after a well-established ending point. “This isn’t my sports thing, how dare you?” Or the usual “this thing isn’t going the way that I used to like” are some fan responses from this happening and all honestly, that’s fair. Same with creators wanting to work on something else after years of working on a manga because they have a new idea they want to try. Another completely legitimate thing. I’m just saying that there is a possibility of doing something with the relationships and rivalries that have a “see you next time” or “next time, I will win against you” attachments after the protag team beats an opposing one. It’s just a little annoying that we don’t see those happening. I guess the next installment usually comes from the fan’s minds, huh? All good fun.