Kick Start Your Manga
All I Know About Sports...
I have to admit, I am definitely not a sports fan. Or fanatic, for that matter. I don't cheer at the television, thinking it'll make my team play harder. I'm the one buried in a book, attempting to ignore the cheers, screams, and general pandemonium sports games seem to create. Having said that, for some reason, I really like sports manga (sports anime, not so much, since I tend to visualize "action" better in my head than having to see it animated, especially in dated animation).
Most of my limited knowledge about sports I got from reading the manga. Is it sad that things like 3-pointers, Hail Marys, red cards, and touchdowns were made concrete for me because of manga? I'd say, no! Firstly, because I don't want to be seen as sad, and secondly because learning about new things is great, no matter the package knowledge comes in.
My Favorite Sports Manga
So, here are a few sports manga that are my favorites, and a little list of those I also enjoyed but not as much as the top three:
Kobayakawa Sena is famous for his speed...as a gopher. Targeted by bullies everywhere, he runs, runs, and runs, until he's become a human bullet. It's only when he is bullied into joining the American Football team as the mysterious, high-speed runner Eyeshield 21 that he starts using his running talent for himself.
This was a great series showing someone coming of age in the world of sports and the evolution of the drawing style details this nicely. The humor in it is also great, and while the number of characters and rivals seemed almost overwhelming, enough time is given to make them all interesting and loveable. Eyeshield21 is one of the few series where I can't decide on my favorite character!
Sakuragi Hanamichi's only relationship to basketball and sports is that they seem to steal away any girl that he likes. Upon his 50th rejection, losing to yet another sportsman, Sakuragi meets Akagi Haruko and falls in love. He joins the basketball team to impress her and his own natural athletic ability is only outshined by his complete lack of knowledge about basketball.
This is one of the first manga series I read and I've reread multiple times. I love the humor, the characters, and the drawing style. Watching Sakuragi evolve as a character in comparison to his rival, Rukawa, is one of the highlights of the series, as well as the basketball team's changing dynamics. In fact, I think I may reread it one more time....
Sho Kazamatsuri is a small, poorly skilled soccer player who drinks milk every day and drills by himself, hour after hour after hour. After transfering from the elite Mushashinomori School, he tries out again for the soccer team, only to be mistaken for pro-soccer player. To try and live up to his new team's expectations, Sho trains to improve himself and become a true member of the Josei team.
I liked the underdog character Sho and how he improved as a player. On the other hand, unlike Sakuragi and Sena, I felt Sho became "too good" of a player, compared to the rest of his team (and I just realized, all their names start with S!). But it still was an enjoyable read with interesting characters and good action.
Can't get enough sports? Here's a few more sports manga I liked:
- Crimson Hero: A tomboy volley-ball player...
- Cross Game: Romantic and touching baseball saga.
- Girl Got Game: Gender bending basketball with pretty-boys...
- Gothic Sports: Edgy uniforms, memorable characters, and the underdogs of soccer!
- Hana Kimi: High jumping drama!
- Hikaru no Go: Ghosts, competitions, and the oft-confusing game of Go (Illustrated by Takeshi Obata of Death Note fame!)...
- Prince of Tennis: Snarky protagonist and dramatic tennis championships (that become slightly DBZ)...
- Punch!: Boxing, if you hadn't guessed....
- Suzuka: Glamorous track and field stars!
Jenna V. can read a manga series over and over...and over once more if it’s really good.