Best Sports Manga of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Best Sports Manga of All Time

Although many people cherish watching anime, they often forget that most anime serve as adaptations of the original source material. While there are some instances where the anime is better than the manga, those instances are few and far between. With the amount of manga released on a daily basis, it could be hard to cut through all those books to find the “Best of” for any chosen topic.

Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable manga through the years. For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best manga, our attention this time turns to those with a sports focus. From adrenaline-pumping bouts to fascinating character-centric journeys, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!

Slam Dunk — Takehiko Inoue

Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk gives readers an in-depth view of players’ lives outside the court. It focuses on the life of Hanamichi. He enrolls in Shokoku High and wants a girlfriend. One day, a girl named Haruko approaches Hanamichi and asks him to follow her to their school’s basketball court. Hanamichi showcases a decent performance on the court.

Haruko informs the school’s coach about Hanamichi’s potential and he joins the team. Slam Dunk tackles themes like personal growth and explores the fundamentals of basketball. The basketball games can feel overly long but deliver enough intensity to keep you hooked. The characters have diverse backgrounds and personalities. You’ll admire the amount of development each character receives. If you’re looking for another deep sports manga with determined athletes, check out Slam Dunk.

Hajime No Ippo — George Morikawa

Hajime No Ippo’s known for being a great shonen sports manga. It has a charming coming-of-age tale that follows a bullied boy named Ippo. He traverses a long boxing-themed journey to become a stronger person. He’ll endure intense bouts, make many friends and rivals, and will experience many scenarios that will give him a different outlook on life.

The people Ippo meets along the way have endearing personalities and individual goals. This manga explores the intricacies of boxing from different weight classes and has its boxers complete difficult training regimes. Many will be impressed by George Morikawa’s knowledge of the sport from the ways he draws his cast and their actions.

Ippo develops some nifty techniques along the way like other shonen characters. Mostly, the fights look and remain grounded. There are some instances where things may feel a bit fantastical though. Nevertheless, you’ll be satisfied with the fights inserted in this manga. Give this a read if you’re searching for something fun and exciting.

Ashita No Joe — Ikki Kajiwara

Kuroko’s Basketball — Tadatoshi Sujimaki

Imagine giving professional athletes superpowers to use on the court. Kuroko’s Basketball presents that concept to fans and manages to tell an endearing tale. This narrative follows Kagami and Kuroko, two boys who join the Seirin High School basketball team. Both characters have different backgrounds, strengths, and weaknesses.

However, Kuroko was a part of an esteemed basketball team called the Generation of Miracles. Unfortunately, Kuroko was the weakest member due to having a slightly subpar power. When Kagami realizes this, he and Kuroko plan to use each other’s strengths to cover for their weaknesses and help their team achieve victory in every game.

This manga features unforgettable characters who receive excellent development throughout the story. The Generation of Miracles is fabulous antagonists with different motivations, powers, and personalities. Each game features satisfying choreography and style. If you’re okay with a sports manga that leans toward the supernatural side of things, Kuroko’s Basketball should suffice.

Haikyu — Haruichi Furudate

Haikyu is an incredible volleyball manga with great themes like teamwork and companionship. It follows Hinata, who wants to become the best volleyball player in his universe. When he joins his new school’s team, he learns he’ll be competing alongside Kageyama. Kageyama was part of a rival school’s team. Hinata must set aside his differences with Kageyama to achieve his dreams.

Haikyu offers a slew of colorful characters with alluring backgrounds and relatable struggles. Haruichi Furudate’s artwork will appeal to many sports enthusiasts. The manga’s art captures the raw intensity and athleticism of its characters when they’re on and off the court. The manga contains some lighthearted humor that’ll get a chuckle out of many people. If you’re looking for a sports manga with nice characters, themes, and competition, check out Haikyu.

Prince of Tennis — Takeshi Konomi

Prince of Tennis is a fun sports manga about a tennis prodigy named Ryoma who wants to become the best player in the world. He doesn’t want to live in his father’s shadow, so he’s determined to do whatever it takes to make a name for himself. The series is known for its engaging cast, exciting matches, and dramatic storytelling. It’s a manga offering a unique blend of sports and shonen elements.

The characters are well-developed and each tennis player has a distinct personality, strength, and weakness. Ryoma has a cool and confident demeanor that makes him stand out from other sports protagonists. The supporting cast is well-equipped with their own personal tales and motivations that add depth to the story.

The matches are well-drawn and choreographed. Players use a variety of tennis techniques and strategies that make each match unique and thrilling. The tension and drama during the matches are well-captured, with the outcome of each competition drawing readers’ attention. Even if you’re not a tennis fan, there’s a lot to love about the Prince of Tennis.

Cross Game — Mitsuru Adachi

Cross Game is an award-winning sports manga with romance and comedy elements. It follows Ko Kitamaru and his childhood friend, Aoba Tsukishima, as they navigate the world of baseball. The series is known for its realistic depiction of baseball, relatable characters, and emotional storytelling. It’s a manga that offers a great blend of slice-of-life and sports components to captivate readers.

This manga is written in a way that’s engaging and impactful. It explores themes of loss, grief, friendship, and love, along with the challenges and triumphs of baseball. The relationships between its cast are well-developed, with each character undergoing personal endeavors that add complexity to this tale.

Mitsuru Adachi explains the technical aspects of baseball, such as various pitches and fielding techniques. The matches are well-choreographed, with a sense of tactical realism that adds to the excitement of the games. The manga also does a great job of capturing the sense of teamwork and connection that is ingrained in baseball.

Real — Takehiko Inoue

Real is an incredible sports work from the well-acclaimed author Takehiko Inoue. It captures the spirit of basketball and offers gripping narrative that will hit folks hard on an emotional level. Inoue’s art style is realistic, allowing folks to feel immersed in this world. The protagonists are likable, allowing fans to develop an emotional attachment to them.

In it, we follow Tomomi, a former high school basketball captain. He spends his life catering to a young girl because he feels responsible for getting her involved in a traffic accident. Tomomi encounters a wheelchair-bound girl named Kiyoharu. After challenging and losing to her in a basketball match, Tomomi gets inspired to participate in the sport again.

This is a touching tale about protagonists who must overcome their internal and external issues. It offers some splendid jokes and visual gags to give fans breathing room from its intense drama. Nonetheless, you’ll find yourself enjoying Real when it becomes “real.” Give this life-changing manga a read when you have some spare time.

Captain Tsubasa — Yoichi Takahashi

Captain Tsubasa is an old-school soccer manga with a lot of heart. It doesn’t have the most rounded cast or a deep narrative. However, it gives readers a wholesome take on soccer, which is a splendid change of pace from current works like Blue Lock. It follows an 11-year-old Tsubasa, who developed a fondness for soccer over the years.

He moves to his mother’s place in Nankatsu City because he wants to become an experienced player. Tsubasa’s journey won’t be an easy one as Nankatsu’s students are more skilled at soccer than himself. Fortunately, he’ll befriend multiple people who’ll motivate him to pursue his dreams. This manga shares a nice overview of soccer, explaining the technicalities and principles of the sport.

The matches are entertaining and characters demonstrate a wide range of skills, strategies, and tactics on the field. For those looking for a delightful sports manga with a retro aesthetic, check out Captain Tsubasa.

The Climber — Shinichi Sakamoto & Yoshiro Nabeda

The Climber is a rare manga based on a real-life tale about a mountain climber named Buntaro Kato. The Climber starts off similarly to other sports manga, but it spirals into something beautiful, mature, and deep. The Climber offers a wonderful examination of its protagonist, Mori Buntarou, life goals, and internal struggles. Readers will admire Mori and how he ponders life.

Don’t expect Mori and his friends to interact much in this tale. One of The Climber’s greatest strengths is its handling of visual storytelling. Shinichi Sakamoto visually demonstrates the psychological turmoil our characters endure. Furthermore, many should go into this story expecting thorough examinations of the cast’s psyche rather than thrilling competitive action.

The story undergoes some weird changes due to Yoshiro Nabeda leaving the project for personal reasons. Nevertheless, folks who are craving a deep and atmospheric manga to read with fun characters, immaculate artwork, and incredible storytelling, should look no further than The Climber.

So, there we have it, our picks for the best manga through the years about sports!

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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