Sports manga examine both an athlete's internal and physical strength along their rise to the top. While these stories provide captivating and suspenseful sports-based action, they also offer unique life lessons about teamwork and perseverance. Here are five great manga series to whet any sports fan's appetite.
A classic '90s manga by Takehiko Inoue, Slam Dunk is one of the highest-selling manga series in history with over 120 million copies currently in circulation. The series stars Hanamichi Sakuragi, a gang leader who's invited to join the Shōhoku High School's basketball team.
Despite his initial hesitation at the offer because of his previous misconceptions and inexperience in the sport, Sakuragi soon proves he's a natural athlete who excels at basketball. While he only agrees to join the team to impress the girl he likes, Sakuragi learns to respect the sport and his teammates as they rely on one another to reach new heights.
Haikyuu!! stars the men's volleyball team of Karasuno High as they improve their reputation after being dubbed the "Flightless Crows." Once a disheartened team, the members of the volleyball team are reinvigorated after recruiting some talented and determined freshmen. As teammates, they support one another both on and off the court while undergoing intricate character development and self-improvement.
With the goal of becoming the best team in Japan, there are no limits to how high the Crows can soar. While Haikyuu!! is also accompanied by an extremely successful anime adaptation, the manga by Haruichi Furudate includes 45 volumes that were completed in 2020.
After five talented teammates called the "Generation of Miracles" win nationals every year in middle school, they are forced to part ways when they're recruited to different high school teams in Kuroko's Basketball. However, this generation has a sixth and secret member named Tetsuya Kuroko who joins a lesser-known basketball team at Seirin High. Despite their underwhelming reputation, Kuroko is an incredibly gifted player who's determined to make his team the best in Japan. This popular sports manga by Tadatoshi Fujimaki includes a whopping 30 volumes for readers to enjoy.
Hajime no Ippo
While being in circulation for over 30 years, George Morikawa's popular manga Hajime no Ippo is a must-read for sports fans. The series stars Ippo Makunouchi, who is badly beaten up by bullies until a professional boxer intervenes and takes him to a boxing gym to heal him. While at the gym, Ippo watches the boxers train and decides to hit punching bags out of frustration.
After realizing he may have a natural gift for boxing and finding it therapeutic, Ippo pursues a career in professional boxing despite difficult odds and rigorous training. Not only does Hajime no Ippo provide suspenseful sports action, but it also emphasizes a boxer's internal strength as much as their physical strength.
Ace of Diamond
Ace of Diamond is a popular baseball manga by Yuji Terajima that has also received an anime adaptation. The series stars Eijun Sawamura, a talented pitcher with a natural changeup pitch that gives him an edge over the competition. He's soon scouted by Seidou High and is offered a scholarship that will improve his future prospects.
Eijun works with his teammates as they aim for nationals -- despite their coach considering his resignation from the program. The series is split between two different acts, with Ace of Diamond Act II often being the most highly regarded within the popular baseball manga.