Mai Miyano has been helping out her childhood friend, Kunimitsu Hasuga, every morning with soccer practice ever since they were little. After years of practice, Kunimitsu has been MVP for 2 years in a row at the middle school national tournaments. One day, Reikaone of Kunimitsu's admirerswitnesses the two childhood friends practicing, and is shocked by Mai's ability to keep up. Determined to prove herself to Kunimitsu, Reika Hakurai challenges Mai to a soccer challenge!
Caught between her childhood crush and new competition, will Mai be able to hold her composure? With a tendency to get too nervous or fantasize about Kunimitsu, Mai has a hard time playing soccer outside of practice. Can she stop her lewd fantasies long enough to beat Reika?
Mai Ball! is a seinen football manga by Sora Inoue (JAM!!, Zero In, Real Bout High School) currently serialized monthly under publisher Young Animal Arashi. It was first released in 2012, just a year after the Japanese national women's football team won the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup and two years before the Japanese national women's junior football team won the Under-17 edition in 2014.
Mai Ball! combines intense girls' football matches with the Harem Genre in a healthy balance, with Fanservice focusing more on the lower body unlike in many titles from the Harem Genre. And unlike many sports series, the Opposing Sports Teams are portrayed more sympathetically and with more honorable characters, even going as far as giving characters from those teams A Day in the Limelight.
As football became the second-most played sport in Japan thanks to Captain Tsubasa, many prominent characters in the series (including characters from the Opposing Sports Teams) are given image colors as Shout-Outs to several professional and national football clubs in Real Life.
Mai Ball is currently finished at 107 chapters.
- The Ace : The center-forwards and strikers of every football club in the series so far are often considered the best players for their respective teams, but the more defensive teams like Franklin, Kuryuin, and Kijinan have highly defensive sweepers and midfielders like Tsubaki Makishi, Mirai Takenou, and Jaina-Airi Mishiki as some of their respective best players.
- All Women Are Lustful : Kijikita is very much this for their coach Kunimitsu, but unlike many harem protagonists he would have none of it.
- Author Avatar : Kunimitsu is basically this, as both he and Inoue are fans of Italian football, especially Juventus FC. It even extends to the formation Kijikita uses, which is a 4-4-1-1 variant of the 4-4-2 formation popularized in Italy during The '80s and The '90s.
- Combat by Champion : Usually happens whenever Reika goes up against the opposing midfielder or forward.
- Conflict Ball : When Reika got injured and had to sit out the rest of the match against Seirin, Kunimitsu bridal carried her to the dugout for treatment, sparking the Green-Eyed Monster within everyone in Kijikita, destroying their focus and allowing Seirin to come back into the game with four straight goals. It took quick thinking from assistant coach Konori Shindou to avert an epic collapse.
- Confusion Fu : Kunimitsu switches up the girls' positions in the second half of their first round to confuse their opponents.
- David vs. Goliath : Tiny Chidori Kakiha took on the colossal Takenou when Mai got a really bad BSOD during the semifinal match.
- Defeat Means Friendship : A rather strong theme in the series, in that Kijikita as a team (through Mai specifically) easily makes friends with all the opponents they have faced so far.
- Enemy Scan : Kijikita right center back Yuika Mashiro's "muscle-reading" ability makes use of her knowledge of the human anatomy to detect her opponent's movements and weaknesses, but she needs to get up close and personal to do so. It will not work if she gets distracted by her muscle fetish.
- Erotic Dream : Mai often goes into this, even during matches.
- Epunymous Title : The title is a pun of Mai's given name and the phrase "my ball" called out by a player who wants to take charge of the team's offense.
- Flash Step : The head coach of a team of grade school kids used this move to utterly stomp a trio of Reika, Amane, and Takenou, to the point of outright phasing through them as she passes the ball to her players. Turns out this coach is none other than Riria Konbaru, the true team captain of Kijinan.
- Foreign Exchange Student : Franklin International School's two foreign players Dütè Serbanov and Anya Nibenvić.
- From Nobody to Nightmare
- Kijikita started out as literally a bunch of scrubs, but developed into a formidable football team capable of going toe-to-toe and winning against the strongest teams in their region.
- Kunimitsu initially had poor football skills as a child, which is why he enlisted the help of his Childhood Friend Mai to train his skills. Several years of training later, he is now one of the best junior male football players, if not THE best, in all of Japan.
- Furo Scene : As Mai's family owns a bath house, expect lots of these especially before and after matches as nothing beats a good bath after a long hard match or training.
- Glass Cannon : Kijikita's second round opponents Seirin employs a 3-5-2 formation with a counter-attacking middle but with a vulnerable back once it is breached.
- Harem Genre : A high school boy coaching a football team composed of cute high school girls.
- Heroic Spirit
- Tsubame is basically the Determinator packed into a small frame, girl just doesn't know how to quit.
- Seirin team captain Aya Kurusu refuses to go down even when her team is down big against Kijikita, and sure enough, manages to score 4 straight unanswered goals when Reika got injured and had to sit out.
- Chidori may be the smallest player on the pitch, but there is no doubt she has the biggest heart on her team. It doesn't matter if her opponent is a literal ogre, she will take her on.
- Huge Schoolgirl : Mai Ball! has characters from every team who are much taller than the average Japanese schoolgirl, but one character really stands out: Kuryuin's defensive midfielder Mirai Takenou, who stands at a massive 190cm (6 feet 3 inches) and is very wide-bodied compared to pretty much everyone else in the series.
- Identical Twin ID Tag : Kijikita twin full backs Aoi and Akane Shimagawa have blue and red eyes, respectively. In addition, as revealed in later chapters, Aoi's bust is 0.2 cm bigger than Akane's, while Akane's waist is 0.2 cm wider than Aoi's.
- Improbably Female Cast : Mai Ball! features a mostly female cast, even those from a formerly all-boys school which has just recently turned co-ed. There are only a few male characters in the series besides the Kijikita Boys FC and the regular customers of the Miyano bath house.
- Lightning Bruiser : Takenou regularly swats away her opponents like a truck and can even keep up with much smaller players like Mai and Chidori.
- Male Gaze : The Fanservice in this series focuses more on the legs, thighs, and lower body.
- Malicious Misnaming : Not aimed directly at Mai, but the men of the Miyano bath house often call her "Maiko" both as a form of respect for her mother Kyoko and to spite her father for marrying Kyoko because all of them loved her. At least one of them started calling her by her proper name once they start watching Mai's football games.
- Motivational Kiss : Kunimitsu often does this to Mai to calm down her nerves ever since they were children. He was since not shown to do this for her more often as Kijikita goes deep into the regional tournament, opting instead to give her Magic Feathers.
- Opposing Sports Team : Among Kijikita's opponents so far, Kijinan and Kuryuin best fit the archetype, although for the latter it is only because of their dynamic duo of Amane and Mirai. Nevertheless, most of the characters from the opposing teams so far are likeable and were able to easily make friends with our heroes after their matches.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse
- Chidori stands at only 138cm, but she is one of the best players of Kijikita who carried the team to victory at least twice so far. She has a Superpowered Evil Side which boosts her already great football skills and adds Kuroko Tetsuya-style misdirection moves to her arsenal at the cost of not being able to talk to her teammates.
- Makishi stands at only 141cm, but she plays sweeper, the same position as the much bigger Jaina-Airi Mishiki. And it shows during the Kijikita-Franklin match, wherein she was able to hold down the much bigger Mai for a good portion of the game.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits : Kijikita Girls FC is composed of exactly eleven high school freshman girls with a high school freshman boy as their head coach and two assistant coaches who know nothing about football at all.
- "Reason You Suck" Speech : Reika delivers this to Mai when the latter fails to lead the team effectively and trail Kuryuin 0-2 in the first half.
- She's Got Legs : Most of the Fanservice is directed on the girls' shapely waists and strong legs.
- Shipper on Deck : Kunimitsu's sister really loves shipping him with Mai.
- Stone Wall
- Franklin plays a highly defensive 5-3-2 formation designed to get as many possessions as possible and tire out the opposition.
- Sweepers are generally this, but Tsubame and Jaina take the cake in this series for being seemingly impenetrable walls to anyone foolish enough to dare score on them.
- Superpowered Evil Side : Chidori's "stealth mode" boosts her football skills and grants her outright invisibility at the cost of getting more sinister, as if she in a zone.
- Too Kinky to Torture: Rinka really loves getting hit by the ball a little bit too much.
- Unnecessary Roughness : Takenou has a knack for wrestling down her opponents without getting noticed by the referees.
- Unusual Euphemism : "Conjuring a charm" is what Kunimitsu calls his usual method of kissing Mai to calm her down before a big performance or match.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head : Reika wears a football shirt with an English flag pattern on it in her first appearance.
- Zerg Rush : Kijikita's gegenpressing strategy catches an opposing team off guard and takes them out of their stalling game. The look at the opponents' faces says it all.
- Zettai Ryouiki : Given this is a manga series about football, expect to see a lot of these on and off the pitch.