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My thoughts on: Sports Manga – A change of mind

April 19, 2010

Hey everyone,

Today I wanna tell you something about sports manga. I used to dislike them but thanks to great recommendations I changed my opinion.

I began my sports manga odyssey after I finished the romance manga called “Miyuki” by Adachi Mitsuru. In my opinion it’s a very advanced manga for it’s time when it was drawn as it deals with love under siblings. And ‘cause of that, I started some other Adachi Mitsuru manga. I picked up “Touch” which is said to be one of his best works and I beat myself trough until the 129th chapter. I didn’t know why but it was just terrible. It’s just too much focused on the main character. You might be saying now that a sports manga should focus on its main character and I agree but the focusing has to be in line with the setting.

Baseball is a team sport. Therefore you have to create a setting where the whole team is involved showing some character developments and abilities. But in this case the setting is working against the nature of team-sports. The main focus lies on the main char alone. Of course the side characters have their parts too but waaaaay too less.

A really good example of a team sport manga with a fitting setting is “Eyeshield 21” (American football). Every character gives the team a unique side. It’s not that you say “Oh, Sena and his team lost” but instead it’s “The Deimon Devil Bats lost”. This is because the manga takes time to introduce each character as you have to keep the overview. You see, the team sport series should be more focused on how the team grows and develops instead of just one person.

Apart from Eyeshield 21, I’m currently reading “Ashita no Joe” (the first look comes in two weeks) which is the first boxing manga ever. It was published around 1968. On the Anime side I’ve got “Giant Killing” on my watching list. This anime is one of the currently airing Spring 2010 series. Maybe I check out the manga, too.

I’m open for more recommendations… just leave a comment.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2010 11:33 pm

    Have you ever read Slam Dunk. One of (if not) the best sport mangas out there. Hell one of the best mangas period.

    And totally agree on the Es21 stuff. It’s great to see that the other characters get fleshed out so well. You really start to feel for the surrounding cast members and as a whole, the manga itself gets appreciated that much more.

    Not everyone’s gonna like the main character so giving them options is a good way to bypass all that

  2. MaiNoKen permalink
    April 27, 2010 12:59 am

    Sports manga is a long time tradition in Japan. Adachi Mitsuru is rather unique in terms both the drawing style and the story (it has strong flavors of mixing sports with slice-of-life). He also is a big baseball fan, so nearly every sports stuff he makes are baseball related.

    As someone suggested already – Slam Dunk – comes from more a different tradition, and is more inline of classical Sports Spirit (スポ根) plot development. In fact that is what I always watched when I was young kid in Hong Kong – there were Gundam (not sports haha), Captain Tsubasa or Attack No.1, and the latter two is all Sports Spirit story style.

    Captain Tsubasa drawing style is more modern, Attack No.1 will probably reminds you Voltron or Mazinger Z in terms of drawing style (it is late 60s/early 70s animation anyway). Plot-wise, Tsubasa features a male lead, and Attack No.1 is female lead, but they actually share a lot of similarity in story and character development – expect a healthy amount of super shoots and spikes, mystification of the connection of the lead character with the sport, a lot dramatically dragged out climax scenes. For sure, they all have VERY long story; Adachi Mitsuru stuff is like that as well so do Slam Dunk; in fact most old school stuff are very long.

    I am a big sports animation/manga fan as I grew up with it, and I think it gives good influence to younger folks. This place has not enough space to talk about all of them.

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