The next best thing to watching baseball is getting a chance to read baseball manga. Japanese manga artists are particularly skilled at bringing the sport to life on the page, so we’ve put together a short list of classic manga series inspired by the game of baseball as it is played and celebrated in Japan, and by the ways baseball has been mythologized in Japan. Whether you are new to baseball manga or want to take a look at baseball as seen through Japanese eyes, here are six manga titles devoted to the game and each one is sure to be a home run.
1. One Outs by Shinobu Kaitani
More gambler than baseball player, Toua Tokuchi finds himself right at home in a high stakes game of One Outs, a simplified version of baseball where a pitcher and batter duel one on one for massive payouts. But when he experiences his first loss from the Saitama Lycaons, the weakest team in the Japanese league, Tokuchi is recruited onto the team on the condition that every time he pitches well he gets five million yen but loses fifty million yen for every run he gives up. Known for its psychological twist
2. Ace of Diamond by Yuji Terajima
Eijun Sawamura is a high schooler with an unusual ability to change his pitch. Planning on attending high school with his friends, he instead gets scouted from Seidou High, a prestigious high school well known in the Japanese baseball world. After deciding to visit the school and being offered a scholarship, Sawamura’s outlook on baseball changes completely.
3. Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi
Neighbors since childhood and rivals for most of it, Ko Tsukishima and Aoba Tsukishima (a girl who develops into a formidable pitcher) compete to fulfill a dream of playing in the high school baseball championship in Koshien Stadium. Interspersed with humor and heartfelt moments, this series has been well known for its plot and relationships between characters.
4. Major by Takuya Mitsuda
The story follows the principal character Gorou Honda from kindergarten to becoming a professional baseball player. Acclaimed for its character development and realistic presentation of the pitfalls that befall a budding baseball player. Widely popular in Japan but has not been published in English.
5. Big Windup! By Yōsuke Kuroda
Ren Mihashi was the ace pitcher on his middle school’s baseball team, but he was resented by his teammates because his grandfather owned the school and they assumed Mihashi received favoritism. The experience left him with low self-esteem and Mihashi resolved to quit baseball altogether. But with the help of a new set of new teammates, Mihashi’s self-confidence slowly starts to rebuild.
6. Mix by Mitsuru Adachi
An ongoing series that is a semi-sequel to Touch, another wildly popular baseball manga published in the 1980s by Adachi (Cross Game), that takes place thirty years after Touch. Stepbrothers Toma and Soichiro are determined to bring their high school back to the National High School Baseball Championship. The series has been made into an anime.