Ask NotGraphs (#15)

What is the best baseball-themed Manga or Anime?

Yu Matsuichiro


I’ve been storing this question at the bottom of the Ask NotGraphs queue because I knew it would require some research. I have no idea what the best baseball-themed Manga or Anime is, or what the best non-baseball-themed Manga or Anime is. I know lots of things about lots of things, but Manga and Anime are two things I know nothing about. (They’re two different things, right? Or do I know even less than I think I do.)

Nevertheless, this is what the Internet was made for.

The lovely folks over at Wikipedia have a page called Baseball Anime and Manga. It offers 26 items to examine. I have examined the entries for all 26 items and decided that I am completely ignorant about a world of content that seems marginally more worthwhile than the episodes of House Hunters that wind up on my DVR (that link is to a piece of nonsense I wrote a couple of years ago making fun of House Hunters).

Here’s what I have concluded:

1. There is a lot of baseball-themed manga and anime. Much of it seems to be about high school.

2. Cross Game appears to be the best manga and anime (it started as manga and then became an anime series) for most people who write in to Ask NotGraphs with questions about their baseball-hating significant others. It is a romantic comedy with characters who happen to play baseball. So if you liked that Freddie Prinze Jr. / Jessica Biel movie from a few years ago (Summer Catch. And it’s from MORE THAN A DECADE AGO? I am old.), maybe you would like this.

3. Robotic cats that form a baseball club? Hmmm, that doesn’t sound like the worst idea ever.

4. Mark Prior has his own manga series. Oops, I mean Hiro Kunimi. “After an injury, a doctor told Hiro that if he continued pitching, his elbow would shatter in three months.” See why I got confused? Also from the summary: “Noda was diagnosed with a career-ending waist injury by the same doctor.” Part of me thinks that must be a typo, and they mean wrist injury. Part of me is wondering what a career-ending waist injury could be.

5. Girls who want to play baseball is a common theme. In Idol Ace, a girl dresses up like a boy so she can play. Another girl dressing up like a boy in Miracle Giants Dome-kun. Princess Nine is about nine girls forming a team to compete with the boys. Same story in Taisho Baseball Girls.

6. If I was going to decide to read one of these, I’d probably take a look at Mr. Fullswing:

The main character, Saruno Amakuni, is a loser at attracting girls, perverted, prone to getting into trouble, yet has great strength of heart and body. He is accompanied by Kengo Sawamatsu and the pair work together in order to fulfill Saruno’s dream—dating Nagi Torii, Junishi baseball team manager. Determined to win Nagi’s heart, Saruno enters the Junishi baseball club, despite being a complete amateur at baseball, only to find many obstacles, as well as new friends and rivals, awaiting him there.

Okay. Terrific. I read Wikipedia so you don’t have to. Obviously, anyone who knows anything about this stuff, do share in the comments.

Good luck,

Have a question for Ask NotGraphs!? I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel, so please send! About baseball, not about baseball, I don’t care, and maybe it’s more fun if it isn’t about baseball at all. E-mail me, or leave your question in the comments!

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Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a satirical novel that should make people who didn't go to law school feel good about their life choices. Read more at McSweeney's or elsewhere. He likes e-mail.

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John Thacker
John Thacker

Cross Game (like the other series by Mitsuru Adachi) has very, very realistic baseball. It is a manga (and anime) where everyone really likes baseball. The baseball action depicted is superior to most others.

It is at least as accurately described as a depiction of baseball that happens to have a romantic comedy in it.

For example, in the anime they will frequently have characters in the background move to back up a play even when this is not actually relevant to the plot. (i.e., the throw is made normally, backing up isn’t relevant.) That’s a sign of extra attention to detail, because normally the background would be ignored (to save time and money) unless something were going to occur.