In the previous Manga 101 installment, we took a look at the manga genre known as isekai. Now, we’ll continue with an exploration of another popular manga genre: sports!
Sports manga as a genre is precisely what it sounds like manga stories that focus on a particular sport. The protagonist may be determined to achieve greatness, a naturally talented novice, or a reluctant participant, but at the end of the day, they’ll be swept up in the camaraderie and competition of sports.
The main themes of sports manga are often related to overcoming obstacles and dedication to training and practice. Social themes like learning to get along with teammates and appreciating and understanding one’s opponents are also common. Most sports manga will have a wide cast of characters with unique personalities (and hairstyles). Visually, sports manga often employ a dynamic style to convey the motion and intensity of sports. Sports manga also frequently use the technique of decompression, which slows down the speed of the plot to focus on visuals and character development. As a result, it may take several chapters or even volumes of manga for a single game or tournament to be completed.
There are lots of popular sports represented in the manga, like basketball (Slam Dunk), soccer (Blue Lock), baseball (Ace of the Diamond), or volleyball (Haikyu!!). However, the sports represented in manga go beyond the classics to depict a wide range of sporting endeavors, like ping pong (Ping Pong), dance (Wandance), or diving (Dive!!). Sports manga as a genre is also broader than just physical activities — manga that focuses on competitive games like Go (the strategy board game seen in Hikaru no Go) or karuta (the poetry card game seen in Chihayafuru) also fall under the umbrella of sports manga.
You can check out some of the Free Library’s sports manga offerings here, or browse the sports category on Comics Plus. Stay tuned for the next installment of Manga 101 to learn about even more manga genres!