Nekketsu shōnen constitutes one of the most famous and widespread genres of Japanese manga. This genre corresponds to a particular narrative structure rather than a register or setting, allowing it to include fantasy stories as well as realistic ones. Our hypothesis here is that the unity of this genre relies in the values it displays, which can be compared to sports values. In this paper, we analyze the main traits of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball and compare it to other masterpieces of this genre in order to stress how, despite apparent diversity, all these manga display the same ideal of hard-working and ever-progressing sportsmen fighting their own self rather than enemies, in stark contrast with classical American or European comics heroes and avengers. These works hence propose an emancipation of sports from its classical frames towards fantasy, but keeping its essential characteristics
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