Gaming

Best Seinen Sports Manga

Highlights

  • Seinen sports manga takes a more realistic approach to sports stories, catering to an older audience.
  • Giant Killing provides a mature look at soccer with adult characters and competition in a real football league.
  • Ping Pong showcases the power of a less popular sport, with strong characters and a powerful coming-of-age story.


Sports manga has always been a surprisingly large section of the anime and manga world, with plenty of famous and popular manga usually centered around sports like baseball or soccer. Popular manga and anime franchises like Kuroko no Basket and, more recently, Blue Lock have made huge splashes in the community, proving that sports manga can certainly be very successful.

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Fans of Blue Lock should also enjoy these other great sports anime focused on teamwork and overcoming the odds.

While many popular sports manga are shonen manga (like the two above), there are plenty of seinen sports manga around as well. Unlike shonen sports manga, these manga take a more realistic approach to sports stories, accounting for their older audience. Here are some of the best seinen sports manga out there, ranked by their MyAnimeList Score.


10 Giant Killing

MAL Score: 7.99

Giant Killing

  • Written by Masaya Tsunamoto & illustrated by Tsujitomo
  • Published in Morning
  • 62+ volumes

East Tokyo United has been struggling to perform well in Japan’s top soccer league for years, and their popularity has begun to wane. ETU’s GM, Gotoh, hires a brand-new coach to bring the team back from certain doom. This coach, Takeshi Tatsumi, was once a top soccer player in his own right but is now a successful coach.

Giant Killing is a soccer manga where the main teams compete in a real football league rather than in a high school league. The characters are all of adult age, providing a more mature look at the usual sports story.

9 Big Windup!

MAL Score: 8.17

Big Windup!

  • Written & illustrated by Asa Higuchi
  • Published in Monthly Afternoon
  • 36+ volumes

Ren Mihashi was placed as the pitcher of his middle school baseball team due to his grandfather’s influence as the school’s owner. This led the rest of the team to ostracize him, as they believed he only got to where he was because of that. In truth, Ren Mihashi enters high school believing he has no talent at baseball, but his new coach is set on proving him wrong.

Big Windup! (known as Ookiku Furikabutte in Japan) is a baseball series that puts a strong focus on the growth and development of its characters. With an emphasis on cooperation and teamwork, Big Windup! isn’t too different from its shonen counterparts.

8 Uma Musume Cinderella Gray

MAL Score: 8.20

Uma Musume Cinderella Gray

  • Written by Masafumi Sugiura & illustrated by Taiyo Kuzumi
  • Published in Weekly Young Jump
  • 13+ volumes

A side story to the main Uma Musume series, Cinderella Gray follows the story of Oguri Cap during her time at Kasamatsu Training Center Academy. It chronicles her journey as she meets new friends and becomes a legendary horse girl.

Uma Musume Cinderella Gray is part of the Uma Musume project, which features video games, anime, and more. Its story is not directly connected to that of the main series, so it can be enjoyed by those who aren’t necessarily big Uma Musume fans.

7 The Summit Of The Gods

MAL Score: 8.26

The Summit of the Gods manga cover

  • Original novel written by Baku Yumemakura, adapted & illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi
  • Published in Business Jump
  • 5 volumes

Photographer Makoto Fukamichi discovers an antique camera he believes to have belonged to George Mallory, the legendary mountaineer who disappeared with his partner while climbing Mount Everest. His investigation into the camera leads him to the mysterious Bikha Sanp, who he suspects to be Japanese mountaineer Joji Habu.

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The Summit of the Gods is a story centered around the dangerous sport of mountain climbing. The manga includes a lot of historical and dramatic elements, and very powerfully sells the impact of how harsh mountain climbing is.

6 Ping Pong

MAL Score: 8.51

Ping Pong Manga

  • Written & illustrated by Taiyo Matsumoto
  • Published in Big Comic Spirits
  • 5 volumes

Peco and Smile have been friends since childhood, despite their opposite personalities. They both play in the ping pong club and while Peco is talented, Smile never seems to stand out. However, their coach discovers that Smile has always been holding back against Peco and that there is plenty of potential within him.

Ping Pong is a manga that focuses on a less popular sport than that of baseball or soccer but gives it a strong showing. It has a rather unique art style, but it has strong characters and tells a powerful coming-of-age story that resonates with people of all ages.

5 Medalist

MAL Score: 8.52

Medalist

  • Written & illustrated by Tsurumaikada
  • Published in Monthly Afternoon
  • 9+ volumes

Though Tsukasa Akeuraji once aimed to be a top solo skater, he gave up on those ambitions because it was too late for him. However, when he meets young Inori Yuitsuka, a young girl insistent on learning to figure skate, Tsukasa’s ambitions rekindle as he swears to take Inori to the top.

Medalist is a figure skating manga with a rather conventional underdog story. The manga has incredible artwork, which makes the spectacle of the figure skating routines more exciting.

4 One Outs

MAL Score: 8.55

One Outs Manga

  • Written & illustrated by Shinobu Kaitani
  • Published in Business Jump
  • 19 volumes

The Saitama Lycaons are a weak baseball team, constantly on the verge of disbandment. Their star batter Kojima hunts for a mysterious underground pitcher and comes back with Toa Tokuchi, who has a unique pitching style that relies on tricks and feints. The team’s greedy owner is reluctant to hire him, so Tokuchi offers him a unique deal: he’ll get 5 million yen for every out, but lose 50 million for every run he gives up.

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These shows feature high-stakes games and developing narratives that often involve gambling.

One Outs is a baseball series with some high-stakes gambling on the side. The baseball games get a lot more interesting as Tokuchi hovers between making a big gain or getting a massive loss.

3 Aoashi

MAL Score: 8.60

Aoashi Manga

  • Written & illustrated by Yugo Kobayashi; Original concept by Naohiko Ueno
  • Published in Big Comic Spirits
  • 34+ volumes

Ashito Aoi is a passionate boy who loves soccer, though he’s a bit selfish with the ball and not much of a team player. Still, his potential is recognized by coach Tatsuya Fukuda, who recruits him into his youth team due to his unique skills.

Aoashi is a soccer manga that focuses on a professional youth team rather than a high school team. Much of the series focuses on Ashito’s growth both as a person and as a soccer player.

2 The Climber

MAL Score: 8.75

The Climber manga

  • Original novel written by Jiro Nitta; adapted by Shin’ichi Sakamoto and Yoshiro Nabeda, illustrated by Shin’ichi Sakamoto
  • Published in Weekly Young Jump
  • 17 volumes

Buntaro Mori is a lonely and misunderstood high school student who finds the rigors of modern life and society difficult. When he discovers mountain climbing, he is drawn to the sport, as it allows him a place where he can finally overcome his struggles with life.

The Climber is a story adapted from a novel based on a real-life mountain climber, and its focus is more on Mori’s personal and individual struggles rather than his struggles climbing mountains. Nevertheless, it is still a great read for those who enjoy mountain climbing as an activity.

1 REAL

MAL Score: 8.94

Real manga

  • Written & illustrated by Takehiko Inoue
  • Published in Weekly Young Jump
  • 15+ volumes

Tomomi Nomiya, Kiyoharu Togawa, and Hisanobu Takahashi are three different people connected by two things: basketball and their handicaps. Nomiya struggles with finding a path for himself after getting into an accident that paralyzed a young girl, while Togawa turns to wheelchair basketball after his track career was cut short due to the loss of his legs. Meanwhile, Takahashi is recently handicapped after losing the feeling in his legs and must come to terms with his new reality.

REAL is a manga written by Takehiko Inoue of Slam Dunk and Vagabond fame, and is just as good as both of them. It is more focused on personal development and growth rather than sports matches and training, but wheelchair basketball remains a core part of each of the main characters’ stories.

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