• Kyodo

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Popular baseball manga series “Dokaben” ended its 46-year run with a final entry published in a weekly comic magazine released Thursday.

Many people in their 40s and 50s who had read the series by Shinji Mizushima as youngsters reminisced about how they learned about baseball from the characters of “Dokaben,” which first appeared in the Shonen Champion magazine published by Akita Shoten in 1972.

“I have enjoyed drawing my work every day, surrounded by the characters,” Mizushima, 79, said in a statement carried by the weekly magazine, which also published a timeline of the series.

The last two volumes of the series are scheduled to be released in August and September, bringing the total to 205, the publisher said.

The figure surpasses the 200 volumes of “Kochira Katsushika-ku Kamearikoen-Mae Hashutsujo” (This is the Police Box in Front of Kameari Park in Katsushika Ward) created by Osamu Akimoto. The manga series, commonly known as “Kochikame,” was recognized in 2016 by Guinness World Records as the comic series by a single cartoonist with the largest number of volumes.

Taro Yamada, the main character of “Dokaben,” and some of his longtime teammates play together in a final match of a professional baseball tournament in the series’ final edition.

“Dokaben” refers to the large bento Yamada regularly eats from. It later became his nickname.

Baseball manga critic Yoshihisa Tsukui said the series attracted young readers in the baseball-mad country by depicting individual characters with both good and bad characteristics, instead of depicting battles between a superhuman pitcher and batter, as often seen in other anime or manga.

“Dokaben” was special in that it “avoided using old tactics of playing up the story with fiction, such as an unhittable pitch, and managed to establish itself as a manga that baseball players find acceptable,” said Tsukui.

Social media was abuzz as the series came to an end, with many users expressing gratitude and saying how they will miss “Dokaben”. One user wrote, “I switched to batting left because of Yamada.”

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