We are happy to introduce a special guest blogger! Laura works in the Library's Collections department. Her expertise is manga, and she reads all genres, age levels and styles. Laura's interest in manga sprouted from her study of the visual arts and her love of all things Japan. This post is the first in a series called Manga Mania that Laura will be writing. Take it away, Laura!
You really don’t have to know anything about a sport (or even like it) to appreciate the great characters and fantastic stories to be had in Sports Manga!
What you should know:
The story usually revolves around an amateur player, which means that much of the plot is devoted to them learning the skills and strategy to become the ‘star’ player. For example, I had never heard of the game Go before I was introduced to Hikaru no Go. After reading it, I knew enough about the game that I went out and bought myself a Go board to try it out!
Unlike other manga series, Sports Manga has short story arcs within the whole. There is usually a grander plot at play, but the short stories keep the pace fast. They also create lot of opportunities for characters to grow and change. Sports Manga are a very satisfying read, especially when the star accomplishes something extraordinary.
Although Sports Manga is usually written for boys (shonen), there are some girls' stories (shoujo). The girls' stories usually have a love interest as the sub-plot, but the sport and her rivals still dominate the protagonist’s feelings.
The formula for a good Sports Manga is this: train…fight…train some more…fight…train harder…etc…win! You may have noticed this formula in other popular manga like Dragon Ball Z and Hunter x Hunter. But the plot works especially well in Sports Manga. After all, there is always a game to play, a tournament to prepare for, or a rival to out-do.
Check out the Sports Manga at the Library:
Crimson Hero – a shoujo manga about volleyball. A girl named Nobara aspires to become a high school volleyball player, despite her obligations as the “young miss” for her family’s establishment. With her mother set against the sport (she even has the high school remove the team), Nobara will have to fight for a chance to even see the gym.
Eyeshield 21 – a shonen manga about a lightning-fast runner named Sena who is scouted by his high school football team. However, Sena is bullied and it becomes necessary to keep his identity a secret, which earns him the nickname “Eyeshield 21”.
Hikaru no Go – a coming-of-age story about a boy named Hikaru who is possessed by Fujiwaru no Sai, a former instructor of Go during the Heian era. Still determined to play the legendary “hand of god,” Sai convinces Hikaru to play Go. When Hikaru shows an aptitude for the game, Sai learns what he’s really hanging around for, and Hikaru discovers a life-long rivalry with a young Go protigé named Akira.
Slam Dunk – a shonen manga by my favourite author, Takehiko Inoue. Hanamichi is a hopeless high school gang leader whose only skills are beating people up and being rejected by girls. When he discovers Haruko Akagi and her love of basketball, he thrusts himself onto the team. Then things get complicated: Haruko is in love with Rukawa, the team’s ace player!
Whistle! – a shonen manga about a boy named Shou Kazamatsuri, who desperately wants to join his new school’s soccer team. Kazamatsuri will have to work hard to become a regular player: he must overcome the disadvantage of his small stature and defy the low expectations of his classmates.