Baseball is the most popular sport in Japan, and as such, it’s by far the most common choice for sports manga. Manga about baseball are a bit frowned upon in the community, as many tend to be too similar or too typically shounen sports, but there are definitely a few superb manga out there that, like everything good, transcend their genre.
On this list, we’re only going to look at this one sport, but I’ve written a list with the top 10 best sports manga of all time (in my opinion). Click here to read it. Without further ado, here are the 5 best manga about baseball.
By Masanori Morita
Rookies is a superb delinquent and baseball manga. It didn’t quite make my Top 10 Best Delinquent Manga list, but it definitely deserves to be on the best baseball manga list. I’ve written an entire review about it, so for a more in depth look at it, click here.
Rookies executes baseball matches very well. Baseball can be a slow sport at some points, but Masanori knows how to keep the tensions high and the matches constantly hype. The characters are all quite intense, and the art is really good with a very dynamic feel, helping it out.
To be fair, Rookies could be about any sport and the baseball is secondary to the character development, but it still is definitely worth a read.
4) Ace of Diamond
By Terajima Yuji
Ace of Diamond is the quintessential shounen baseball manga. It’s one of those skinned battle shounen titles, that instead of having actual superpowers and fights, everything is sports themed, so you still end up with superhuman abilities and stuff like that.
I usually don’t like this type of manga all that much, but in thise case, I think it’s pulled off quite well. The art is great, the matches are hype and the characters are likeable. Not much more that you can ask from a manga about baseball. If you’re into the sport, there are some pretty good chapters about technique and stuff like that in it as well.
3) One Outs
By Kaitani Shinobu
One Outs is another one of those manga that could really be about any sport, as the focus is on the characters rather than the actual games. In this case, it’s a psychological manga more than anything else.
The protagonist is a pitcher that is not a very strong player physically (he can only pitch 134 km/h, which is basically highschool level), but relies on his ability to read people and predict their moves to win. Basically, he’s an extremely good gambler, who uses mind games to defeat even the strongest of players. At more than one point, One Outs reminds me of a Fukumoto manga, like Akagi or Kaiji.
The story shows how he goes from being a “weak” pitcher that everyone in the pro league looks down on to a feared and respected player.
By Mitsuda Takuya
Spanning 78 volumes, Major is one of the longest running manga ever, and was published between 1994 and 2010.
Since most of the manga in this list are targetted towards teenagers, they’re all set in high school, and as such, are exclusively about high school baseball. Major is quite different in this regard: It follows Goro’s (the main character) entire life of playing baseball: From Little League to professional level baseball. I think that’s pretty cool!
Don’t get it mixed up, though. This manga isn’t really focused on the characters all that much. Instead, 99% of the focus is on the sport itself, unlike other stuff in this list like Rookies. So if you don’t like Baseball, you might not really enjoy this manga. It is worth a read, though, at least a couple volumes to see if you’re into it, if you like sports manga at all.
By Adachi Mitsuru
Touch is by far the most well known baseball manga ever made, having sold about 100 million copies, making it one of the best selling manga of all time. Adachi is recognized as the god of baseball manga, having written a lot of stuff in the genre which is generally pretty good.
Touch is on another level, though. To everything. The art is a bit dated, but I have not been able to find a baseball manga that is even close to it plotwise and in regards to character development. The characters feel natural and real, the story superbly made. Most baseball manga only deal with themes such as trying your best, teamwork, things like that. Instead, Touch does much more interesting themes, even incorporating a strong element of romance (beyond liking the team manager or something like that).
I don’t want to say much about the story itself, as I don’t really want to spoil anything about this one. I truly believe that anyone can enjoy this manga, sports fan or not. That doesn’t mean that the games themselves are lackluster, though. Like I said, Adachi is a huge fan of baseball and has been writing manga about it for decades. He’s very knowledgeable and manages to create good, realistic matches.