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Almost Otaku: Sports Manga, Good, Bad or Just Plain Ugly?

Come play catch with me.

 I can tell that whoever's behind SLAM DUNK must've been a huge fan of the Bulls.
 I can tell that whoever's behind SLAM DUNK must've been a huge fan of the Bulls.

sotyfan16: Sports anime/manga: good, bad, or just plain ugly?

This is quite timely as I just recently perused the first volume of DIAMOND GIRL, a manga about a teen whose base-ballin’ skills are out of this world. I honestly haven’t read any other sports manga outside of that. I was always puzzled by SLAM DUNK when I was living in Asia, and I still don’t quite grasp how it’s continued to be such a smash hit (or should that be a cross-court 3-pointer?) for as long as it has. I know that’s a testament to manga being diverse enough to encompass every genre and every kind of story, and I shouldn’t be surprised when sports stories are so common at the movies. But still, I just can’t shake how… odd it is to see a comic about a basketball team.

How popular is the sport in Japan? Do any of you lunatics know? Is basketball exotic to the Japanese?

I have something of an unusual interest in sports in general. I did football, wrestling and baseball in high school, I practiced MMA in college and I play pick-up b-ball games every weekend… but I have next-to-no interest in watching sports.  I get bored almost immediately. I feel like I’m sitting on my hands. Seriously, I don’t have any favorite teams, I’m not counting the days until the World Series and I didn’t even know that the NFL’s season started until my room mate woke up early yesterday to watch the Packers game. It’s just not my thing.

That being said, I love plenty of sports movies. BAD NEWS BEARS (the original), MAJOR LEAGUE, ROCKYANY GIVEN SUNDAY, MIGHTY DUCKS, THE KARATE KID, THE LONGEST YARD… hell, even SPACE JAM. But I’m always a little leary of this genre because it typically goes for schmaltzy platitudes. I’ve rarely seen stories that have accurately reflected my experience of what it’s like to be on a team. So I generally prefer stuff that injects sports with some fantasy and absurdity. 

Maybe sports manga/anime is the answer, then? As I've said, the medium takes stories farther than they're usually allowed to go in Western entertainment. Maybe what I've been looking for has been here all along? 
Maybe you Anime Vice lunatics could recommend some titles I need to check out.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of  HYBRID BASTARDS!  &   UNIMAGINABLE .Order them on Amazon   here   & here .

Ryokanon Sept. 17, 2010 at 1:32 a.m.

Captain Tsubasa was a huge hit a the time ( Nineties... ) in europa, mostly in France and Belgium. 
 
Even me, who's isn't a sport addict were thrilled by this one. And I've liked SLAM DUNK to the bone.  
 
But this is one of the best thing manga has to offer : it can tel tales of EVERY THING and not just adventures or super hero. It's quite a strenght.
Mezmeroon Sept. 18, 2010 at 9:17 a.m.
As a self proclaimed expert in goofy-ass sports shows, I have some input on the matter.  The problem with the sports mangas is that it's hard to tell if anything resembling sports is happening within the action of the pages.  The kinetic nature of sports lends itself better to an anime form.  It's kind of a shame that most of the time the production quality in animation hurts the general enjoyment of the action, but sports anime is some of the most ludicrous takes on actual sports that you will ever find,  In that sense I completely revel in the madness of the manga writers far more when watching the anime counterparts.
 
I rather enjoyed portions of Slam Dunk though despite having a slick intro the animation definitely does not age well.  The best thing about Slam Dunk was the main character Sakuragi.  In other shows the protagonist's personality is either too generic, or too stoic.  The romantic comedy setting of the story in Slam Dunk however needed someone more endearing.  "Genius" Sakuragi is a very flawed character that I identify with and it made it that much more enjoyable to see him succeed.  Too bad the ending of the show sucked.

In my experience you can always enjoy a dumb sports anime if you go in with the right mind set.  Just admit that your generally not in it for the deep story line of "become number 1!".  You're watching it to see what kind of blatant disregard for physical law they use to make sports way more psychotic than they are in real life.  Sometimes you're just in the mood to see something completely ridiculous and sports anime usually does not fail to disappoint.
Morita_Shunsukeon Sept. 19, 2010 at 1:39 a.m.
Slam Dunk was awesome :D 
 
So funny :)
var_gladon Sept. 19, 2010 at 8:37 a.m.
... the one most resembling a sports anime I have seen is probabely bambo blade (it's about kendo) and it's great! ... but, it's not that it is about kendo that makes it so xD
Sena_Kobayakamaruon Sept. 19, 2010 at 11:08 a.m.
I like Sport anime... That's I like Eyeshield 21.... After we watch or read, we can learn how to play the sport and add more information about the sport...
adoggzon Oct. 21, 2010 at 2:50 p.m.
 ugh, hopefully this will unstick these off the top.

Dig Deeper into Slam Dunk

The unimaginably popular tale of an outcast named Sakuragi who becomes a basketball star at the behest of a girl he's interested in.

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