Top Manga by Mitsuru Adachi [Best Recommendations]

There are just some mangaka who, regardless of the generation they came from, are still highly regarded by the masses. These mangaka can easily sell well over a million copies at the drop of a hat, and can change the entire landscape of the community. One of these super powers is Adachi Mitsuru, whose work has inspired and touched the hearts of many people around the globe with his incredible storytelling, and robust imagination. Born several years after the second World War, Adachi had a calling which was to create manga that would captivate the souls of anyone despite their gender or age. In our list, we’ll be taking a closer look at the very cream of the crop when it comes to Adachi’s achievements, so if you’re new to his collection then these picks will most surely grab your attention and entice you to go out and buy a copy. Of course if you’re a fan of Adachi’s work then this is merely just another glance at the remarkable legacy that he will leave behind for many generations to come, so let’s jump right in!

5. Mix

  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shounen, Slice of Life, Sports
  • Volumes: 9
  • Published: May 2012 - Present

The story of Mix takes place in the very same high school as Touch, but much of the story takes place about thirty years later. It is regarded to be a semi-sequel to the touch series, and focuses its attention on two young brothers and their passion for the game of baseball. In Mix, the two step brothers Touma and Souichirou, are now on a very similar path as the one from Touch to obtain the very same championship title that made Meisei a household name, and to learn more about the sports history of the school itself.

For those unfamiliar with Adachi’s works, he has a very strong liking towards baseball and its roots. Many of his classics such as the ones we’re focusing on, place a lot of emphasis on family, building strong trust and familiarity with others, and creating long lasting friendships. Mix is a wonderful example of all of these mixed in together to create a very satisfying feeling as you read more into the story and learn of these two step brothers. Their passion for baseball was rooted in them from a young age, as the two would always compete to see who the better pitcher was, and Touma eventually comes out on top. Souichirou instead focuses his attention on being the protective big brother to Touma, to ensure that he continues to follow his dreams to becoming an ace pitcher, and also his love for Haruna. We follow the pair as they learn to cope with their past tragedies in the family, strengthen their skills for the game which they loved, and eventually end up creating a romantic relationship along the way.


4. Katsu!

  • Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Slice of Life, Sports
  • Volumes: 16
  • Published: August 2001 - February 2005

Satoyama Katsuki considers himself to be very lazy at times, but more or less carefree in his endeavors. Behind this lazy exterior lies a secret that he can’t seem to express, and it’s that Katsuki has a crush on a young girl who shares his name. Her name is Mizutani Katsuki and her father was once a well known professional boxer, from which she found great interest in after watching him fight. After learning of this truth, Katsuki conjures up this idea that perhaps to win over her heart, he would need to turn to boxing to grab her attention. He decides to join a boxing gym in hopes that it would turn things around and give him bonus points, but what Satoyama didn’t even realize was that he had the fighting spirit in him all along.

Adachi really loves his sports and Katsu! is just another one of his greatest achievements that demonstrates Adachi’s ingenuity. Katsu! takes bits and pieces from various boxing classics such as Burning Blood and the very popular Hajime no Ippo, and creates a romantic tale of a young man trying to win in the ring, as well as win the girl he admires most. This infatuation leads Katsuki in many directions as he comes to realize that his boxing skills are a gift, and all he needs to do is place all of his focus on the sport to achieve greatness. It’s a wonderful story because without the love for Mizutani, Katsuki would’ve never come to understand his true potential as a boxer and take the main stage much like her father. You’re constantly inspired by this young prodigy because over time you notice how his natural talent just spews out of him, and Mizutani has no other choice but to be impressed by his incredible ability to learn so quickly. If boxing is a sport which you enjoy and love a very endearing romantic relationship which leads to very exciting outcomes, then give Katsu! a shot.


3. H2

  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Shounen, Slice of Life, Sports
  • Volumes: 34
  • Published: 1992 - 1999

Hiro and his close friend Hideo had a great passion for the game of baseball until one unfortunate event left Hiro’s arm permanently damaged, preventing him from living his dream. Mentally broken from the diagnosis, Hiro searches for a school that has no baseball team as it would create torment and total resentment from the sport. Fortunately for Hiro the spirits above were watching, as it turns out the doctor who provided the diagnosis was a complete fraud, and his arm wasn’t permanently damaged at all. After hearing of this startling truth, his soul is revitalized and his dream to play on the field is reborn once again but only this time, Hiro wants to confront his very best friend Hideo in the Koshien, the premier league for Japanese baseball.

Adachi uses very powerful storytelling to emphasize the importance of how sports can have a great impact on one's life growing up, but also, how love can provide that extra leverage that is needed to take your skills to the next level. The real battle isn’t on the baseball field as one would expect, but much of it revolves around a love triangle between Hiro, Hideo, and Hideo’s girlfriend. You get to see a better glimpse of just how imperfect these young individuals are, and how organic everything feels when reading through each chapter.

The characterization is very wistful because it tries to remind the reader that their skills are never justified on the basis of some unfathomable power or god like ability, but rather that it all comes from a deep rooted passion for the game. Each match is full of suspense as you’re never too sure how it’ll end, and whether you want to root for Hideo or Hiro. Overall, at an enormous 34 volumes, H2 is sure to provide nothing short of remarkable entertainment for any fan of baseball or Adachi’s work.


2. Touch

  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Shounen, Slice of Life, Sports
  • Volumes: 26
  • Published: 1981 - 1986

By now you’ve probably realized that Adachi’s love for baseball is unprecedented, and that he really knows how to combine slice of life with sports exceptionally well. The story of Touch looks at the life of two young brothers who eventually take their team to the premier league of Japanese baseball. Tatsuya and Kazuya both have a love for baseball and all they wanted to do was to ensure a spot in the Koshien, and perhaps take Meisei High School to the championships.

Adachi’s added touch of romantic encounters in his works always seem to blend exceptionally well with the entire story, which is why his manga reaches out to any gender or age group. Tatsuya and Kazuya grew up with Minami, and the three of them created a strong bond over time, which spawned into something more as the story progresses. Kazuya is the highlight of the show while Tatsuya is a lot like Souichirou from Mix, who spends most of his time supporting his younger sibling to ensure his success and achieve the dreams he set out for himself. Much to our surprise, it is actually Tatsuya who is the one to focus on later in the story, but to prevent any spoilers we shall leave it at that. One thing to point out is that despite having a strong knack for expressing romance in his manga, in terms of physical expression, Adachi uses a very unique approach by allowing the reader to try and visualize what’s going through each character's minds. He weaves in very important points about life that really tie in well with baseball, with lots of plot twists to keep the action consistent. It’s most certainly a must read for anyone, and we recommend picking up both Touch and Mix to really truly understand the whole flow of the story.


1. Cross Game

  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Shounen, Slice of Life, Sports, Tragedy
  • Volumes: 17
  • Published: September 2005 - February 2010

Kou Kitamura’s family runs their own sporting goods store which is always visited by the Tsukishima family, who own a batting center. Due to their close relationship, Kou is almost always at the batting cage working away at improving his skills to become a professional batter. Unfortunately, he lacks sufficient knowledge about baseball outside of batting. In contrast to Aoba, one of the Tsukishima daughters is quite adept at the game being a pitcher and hitter. Wakaba, one of the four daughters, falls in love with Kou and intends to marry him when they’ve grown up. Unfortunately that dream would come to a tragic end. The tragedy leaves both families crushed and Kou’s mental state in shambles. Fast forward several years later, after the events, and Kou has lost his passion for the game of baseball and since then, has never played. After coming to terms with everything he slowly returns to the field but with a new vision and talent that perhaps not many are expecting in this dramatic game of love and baseball.

There’s just something so special about how Adachi is able to create such a unified bond between all of his characters, and pull at your heartstrings at every opportunity. It’s very clear that he tries to emphasize the sheer importance that sports can really express the truths about life and our growth, and it really hits you in Cross Game. It looks at relationships pertaining to family, friends, and the struggles we all must go through in the course of our lives while throwing baseball in for good measure. While the premise of the series did place itself around playing baseball, it was the powerful relationship that Aoba, Wakaba, and Kou had which kept your heart racing well into the later chapters. You’d laugh at how jealous Aoba would get because Wakaba and Kou had this free flowing relationship, and she wanted a piece of that. Everything is placed in random locations, and yet, it all comes together to create this beautiful landscape of drama, and passion much like you’d find in a Japanese Zen garden. Whether you like baseball or not is up to you, but what truly sells Cross Game isn’t in the love for the sport, it’s the everlasting love for human embrace and connectedness.


Closing Statement

Mitsuru Adachi’s works will continue to leave a lasting impression on many fans for years to come, as his stories combine not only a love for sports, but more importantly a love for human relationships. This is perhaps something that many of us should learn about, especially in this corrupt world we’re currently living in. Taking some notes from Adachi’s work may well in fact open up a new window of clarity in the minds of the reader, and help us to truly understand that love is the highest form pertaining to freedom. If we are to truly hit a homerun in our lives, we first need to understand the fundamentals of life, and work our way through countless obstacles until we can finally raise our hands in glory as we take home the true championship title: abundant love.

As always, if you want to know about all the latest buzz straight from the bee’s nest in Japan, be sure to keep it locked here at Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

A passionate fan of gaming, anime, and philosophy. I do lots of graphic design, and stream a lot of games on twitch. I play fighting games competitively, as well as hearthstone. I've lived in Japan for 4 years now and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love ramen, and various types of Japanese style cuisine. Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles! Take care!

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