10 Books/Manga Like Real | TheReviewGeek Recommends

10 Books/Manga Like Real

Real is a great basketball-themed manga written and illustrated by Takehiko Inoue. It centers around Tomomi, a former high school basketball team captain, and student who is ashamed of his past mistakes. After he meets a wheelchair-bound girl named Kiyoharu and loses to her in a game of basketball, Tomomi gets inspired to pursue basketball again. Known for its lighthearted comedy and exceptional drama, Real is an incredible and must-read series. 

If you’re in the mood for more sports and drama-centric books/manga that offer a similar vibe, fear not! We’ve gathered together 10 books/manga to check out when you’ve caught up with Real. Of course, if you feel we’ve missed any of your favorites, do comment below and let us know!


Slam Dunk – Takehiko Inoue 

Similarities – Basketball & Themes

Slam Dunk is another compelling basketball manga from Takehiko Inoue’s catalog. It delves into similar ideas concerning growth, resilience, and determination. By reading these stories, one will be willing to confront their own limitations and tap into the strength necessary to overcome future challenges that stand in the way. 

In Slam Dunk, we follow Hanamichi, a hot-headed delinquent who ends up joining his school’s basketball team after a brief encounter with a fellow student. Despite lacking love for the sport, he’ll slowly discover his love and talent for it while competing alongside his new teammates. This resembles how Kiyoharu, Tomomi, and Hisanobu find solace in the sport after experiencing drastic hardships. 

Moreover, both tales showcase how having strong teamwork can aid anyone in defeating difficult tasks and changing for the better. As Hanamichi participates in more basketball games, he slowly learns to trust, support, and rely on others.

With its fantastic portrayal of basketball and admirable cast, Slam Dunk will certainly please you. 


Vagabond – Takehiko Inoue

Similarities – Characters & Internal Journeys

Although both stories are vastly different from each other from a setting and premise perspective, Vagabond and Real share a lot of notable aspects. For starters, both stories explore the human spirit and have characters who embark on transformative journeys. These characters will face many physical and emotional challenges that lead to exciting and emotionally impactful scenarios. 

In Vagabond, the story follows the life of Musashi Miyamoto, a legendary swordsman in feudal Japan. Musashi struggles with his own strength and skill, constantly seeking to surpass his limits. His goals parallel Kiyoharu’s goals regarding his disabled status. Like Musashi, Kiyoharu refuses to let his weaknesses define him and will embark on a journey to prove himself worthy of the sport he loves.

That said, if you love tales with a stroke of realism and depth, Vagabond is worth checking out. 


The Climber – Shinichi Sakamoto & Yoshiro Nabeda

Similarities – Realism, Sports, Drama

Based on a real-life tale, The Climber is an exceptional sports story that goes beyond its genre. It starts off feeling similar to your modern sports story but spirals into a work full of depth, intrigue, and realism.

Much like Real, The Climber offers readers gorgeously realistic illustrations that add layers of complexity and uniqueness to its storytelling. You’ll be baffled by how well-detailed the characters and landscapes look in this manga.

Furthermore, both stories examine their protagonist’s internal issues and how they plan to conquer those specific hurdles. For instance, The Climber’s Mori’s Buntarou has a background riffled in tragedy and the story spends a good portion showing how he plans to defeat the obstacles that plague his mind. This mirrors the initiative Real’s cast takes in overcoming their tragic past lives.

In addition to having a strong and mesmerizing atmosphere, The Climber is an atmospheric, thought-provoking sports story that’ll make you rethink the genre. 


Ping Pong – Taiyou Matsumoto

Similarities – Drama, Psychological, Sports

For those looking for an emotionally complex tale about table tennis, Ping Pong’s worth checking out. Its narrative follows the journey between two professional ping-pong players named Peco and Smile. While proficient at the sport, they have their own set of issues that’ll hold them back. They must defeat these hurdles if they hope to compete in a significant ping-pong tournament. 

Like Real, Ping Pong shows the transformative power sports can have on humans. Through Peco and Smile’s journey through competitive table tennis, they’ll undergo significant changes and learn valuable life lessons.  This mirrors how our trio of characters in Real learn to grow past their disabilities through their shared love for basketball.

Coupled with its fantastic depiction of table tennis, Ping Pong is another marvelous series that will inspire you to confront your own limitations. 


March Comes In Like A Lion – Chica Umino

Similarities – Drama & Psychological 

March Comes In Like A Lion is an emotional story with an unforgettable storyline and phenomenal cast. Through its intricate storytelling and complex characters, March Comes In Like A Lion depicts the transformative power personal relationships can have on an individual, much like Real.

Both tales provide readers with a motivational take on personal growth and healing. One aspect that binds these narratives together is the ways their protagonists find solace through their connections with others. In March Comes In Like A Lion, the protagonist, Rei Kiriyama, learns to overcome his loneliness and trauma by forging bonds with the Kawamoto sisters and his shogi friends. This mirrors the ways Real’s cast forges deep connections over the fondness for basketball. 

Furthermore, both tales feature characters who must overcome harsh internal hardships. Like Kiyoharu and the others, Rei must overcome mental matters regarding depression and self-doubt to progress with his life.

If you’re looking for another tale that’ll motivate you to seek support and strive for growth, check out March Comes In Like A Lion. 


Ao Ashi – Yugo Kobayashi

Similarities – Sports & Themes

For something on the lighthearted spectrum, we’d like to recommend Ao Ashi. This is another tale with a protagonist who finds pleasure through their involvement in a particular activity. While this story focuses more on soccer than basketball, Real fans will find many of Ao Ashi’s elements similar, satisfying, and unforgettable.

Ao Ashi examines Ashito Aoi’s competitive soccer journey with his Japanese teammates. Despite his unfamiliarity with the area, Ashito is determined to lead his team to victory to make amends for his faults with his former team. While Ashito has issues on the court, he’ll need to be content with issues surrounding family expectations, self-doubt, and pressure too.

With its inspiring narrative and excellent depiction of soccer, Ao Ashi is another sports series that’ll impress Real fans. 


Holyland – Kouji Mori

Similarities – Sports, Drama, Characters

Boxing and basketball go hand in hand in delivering a spectacle that’ll grasp one’s attention. This is one of many aspects Holyland shares with Inoue’s Real. Holyland delivers a fascinating tale about a boy named Yuu. He takes to the streets and vows to reach the land of his dreams by fighting one thug at a time. 

Like Real, Yuu finds comfort in street fighting. It serves as a great outlet for his frustrations and a way to confront his fears. This mirrors how our characters utilize their passion for basketball to overcome societal stigmas and to grow as individuals. Moreover, Yuu has many internal demons he’ll need to contend with, giving audiences reasons to root for him to succeed.

Through its vibrant storytelling and multidimensional characters, Holyland provides readers with another tale that’ll motivate them to seek meaning in life. 


Ahiru No Sora – Takeshi Hinata

Similarities – Sports, Themes, Characters

Ahiru No Sora is another basketball story with a focus on team dynamics, personal struggles, and perseverance. Both mangas show how both protagonists’ passion for basketball helps them strive toward a brighter path. In Ahiru No Sora, we examine the life of a passionate basketball player named Sora who hopes to reignite his team’s love for the sport. 

By displaying strong dedication to his favored hobby, Sora encourages his teammates to strive for success. This mirrors how Real’s characters find empowerment and personal growth through their skill development, teamwork, and accomplishments on the court.

Sora comes equipped with his own personal obstacles like family pressures and issues regarding his height. This will remind Real fans of the emotional traumas that befall the characters in that series.

With its empowering storytelling and well-rounded cast, Ahiru No Sora is another tale that shows what one can achieve with an indestructible spirit. 


Ashita No Joe – Ikki Kajiwara

Similarities – Sports & Drama

Ashita No Joe is one of the best boxing series you’ll ever read. This is a tale about overcoming adversity, and finding comfort through sports, and indicates why it’s important to forge mental resilience to things. In it, we follow Joe Yabuki, a troubled male who uses boxing as his path toward redemption and self-discovery. 

Like Inoue, Kajiwara depicts characters who face personal obstacles and shows how their love for sports can help them overcome them. For instance, Joe initially relies on his brute strength to get by, but through boxing, he learns discipline, tactics, and teamwork. This resembles how characters in Real find purpose and emotional healing through their love for basketball.

In addition to exploring grand themes like self-worth and companionship, Ashita No Joe is a must-read for all sports fanatics. 


Space Brothers – Chuya Koyama

Similarities – Themes 

Space Brothers may not dabble in sports like Real, but it’s another tale that’ll fill you with determination. In it, we follow Mutta and Hibito, two brothers who aim to become professional astronauts. While Hibito succeeds, Mutta faces numerous obstacles including age restrictions and personal setbacks. His problems echo the physical disabilities and societal preconceptions that befall Reals’ cast. 

Nonetheless, Mutta never gives up and continues to push forward toward his goals. His unwavering determination is mirrored in Real, where its characters refuse to let their disabilities define them.

Furthermore, both stories show how one’s pursuits can positively impact them in the long term. Through his unwavering willpower, Mutta becomes more stronger and resilient. As for Real’s cast, they’ll find fellowship and growth by not backing down.

Although this tale may not appeal to sports fans because of its lack of focus on the subject, Real fans who decide to give it a shot will find it to their liking. 


So there we have it, our 10 books/manga to read after you’re caught up with Real.

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!


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