Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world. Sitting at the number 3 spot, behind only football and cricket. The game was created by a Canadian-American physician and educator, James Naismith, as a way to get his students interested in P.E. and improve their physical conditioning.
Since the game’s inception in the late 19th century, basketball has become a world famous sport. It is played in every corner of the globe, but is especially popular in the US and Canada, Eastern and Southern Europe, and a lot of African countries.
In the U.S. the sport is especially popular, with media coverage focusing not just on the professional side of things (The National Basketball Association), but also college basketball. College basketball is a massive draw in the United States, and many fans even start looking at college basketball odds, before they look at the professional side.
However, as we said, basketball is a global sport. And one country where it is quite popular is Japan. Japan has a deep fascination with basketball, and many creators have produced some fabulous manga and anime based on the sport. In this article, we are going to look at three manga (and anime) about basketball that truly capture the love the creators had for the game.
Kuroko no Basuke (Kuroko’s Basketball)
For those who are interested in getting into anime, you can do no better than Kuroko’s Basketball. The story follows Taiga Kagami and Kuroko Tetsuya, two high school students with a deep passion for the sport. During his middle school years, Kuroko spent time playing for a team of prodigy players, called the Generation of Miracles. Meanwhile, Taiga Kagami learned basketball in the United States where the game originates. Now that they are in high school, Taiga and Kuroko team up to take down the Generation of Miracles, all of whom are on new teams and better than ever before.
The manga began serialization in 2008 in the popular Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, and got an anime adaptation in 2010. The anime is fast paced, action-packed, and features some amazing basketball choreography. The three seasons are sure to pass by in a flash. Best of all, the show can be streamed on Netflix, so it is easily available to anyone who has the streaming service.
Long time anime fans have likely already heard of Kuroko’s Basketball. However, there is a manga and anime, that served as a huge inspiration for the aforementioned anime / manga. Slam Dunk began serialization in 1990, and received an anime three years later. The manga went on for over 200 chapters, whereas the anime went for 101 episodes.
Slam Dunk follows the story of Hanamichi Sakuragi, a high school delinquent and leader of a gang. However, on the inside, he is a hopeless romantic, who has confessed his love to over 50 girls, and has been rejected by all of them. So, when he finds a pretty girl who doesn’t seem repulsed, he does whatever it takes to get her heart. Including joining the high school basketball team.
From there, the story takes Sakuragi through a series of tournaments, and eventually he rises to become a star player, taking his team to the Interhigh All-Star Tournament.
Takehiko Inoue is, perhaps, most famous for his historical, Vagabond, telling the story of Musashi Miyamoto’s rise to becoming the greatest swordsman under the sun. However, before he started his historical epic, Inoue wrote and drew a rather unique basketball manga.
REAL is a manga that follows three teenage athletes, all of whom have, in one way or another, become paraplegics. Finding themselves marginalized and outcast by society, the three bond and join a para-basketball team.
The manga deals with the boys’ love of basketball, however, also tackles teams regarding physical disabilities, and the psychology behind those who suffer from such disabilities. In that aspect, it is one of the most unique basketball manga, and certainly one that should be experienced by any fan of the medium.