Koichi Kawato. Young, idealistic, almost foolish Japanese literature teacher. On his first day at Futakotamagawa High School (also known by the nickname "Nikogaku"), he's assigned as the homeroom teacher of the baseball club, the toughest delinquents around. They cut class, smoke, have sex in the clubhouse, and haven't even been playing baseball for six months because of a bench brawl. Kawato decides to turn the team around and head for the Koshien, but the boys aren't having any of it. However, some of them still want to play baseball.
That's the beginning of Rookies, the second and most famous manga by Masanori Morita (who authored Rokudenashi Blues and worked as Tetsuo Hara's assistant on Fist of the North Star), which was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1998 to 2003. With its realistic and detailed art and intense and well-written baseball games, Rookies is not well known in the west, but a classic in Japan and translated into several languages. It was adapted into a successful J-Drama in 2008.
- The Ace: Akaboshi thinks he's one, until he sees all the hard work that the rest of the team puts in. In truth he just has well-rounded stats and can play any position.
- A Day in the Limelight: Nearly every member of the team gets a couple of chapters focusing on them.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "What is your dream?"
- An Aesop: Follow your dreams, and you will achieve happiness.
- Badass Teacher: Kawato. He doesn't get to use it often, but he's got some serious martial arts moves.
- Berserk Button: Do NOT, I repeat do NOT, mess with people's dreams near Kawato. He will be enraged.
- The Berserker: Shinjo at the beginning. His response to nearly anything that angers him is beating the shit out of someone.
- The Big Guy: Shinjo, Hiyama, and Hiratsuka, with Shinjo being the biggest in terms of sheer power.
- Cast of Snowflakes
- Character Development: Not only the entire baseball team, but Principal Murayama and Vice Principal Ikebe get their moments.
- Cool Teacher: Kawato. Full stop. He is shown repeatedly to be the only teacher who really cares about his students, memorizing their names even before he talks to them.
- Manly Tears: Mikoshiba in particular provides a lot of these, occasionally crossing over into Inelegant Blubbering.
- Martial Pacifist: Kawato prefers talking to fighting, but when someone tries to attack him, they are going DOWN.
- Shinjo may be developing into this as well, not wanting to fight if he can avoid it, but not hesitating to put someone down if the situation calls for it.
- Nice Guy: Kakefu-sensei, no matter how much he tries to be mean.
- Only Sane Man: Relatively speaking, at least, we have Mikoshiba. Okada plays this at times too.
- Only Six Faces: Fiercely averted. Every main character has an extremely distinctive face and expression, which is especially impressive considering that they all dress the same way (School or baseball uniforms.)
- Putting the Band Back Together: The first arc of the story focuses on Kawato's effort to motivate the baseball team to actually play.
- The Quiet One: Shinjo. Easily speaks the least among the team members, and true to trope, he's The Big Guy on the team, with hints of Genius Bruiser with the talk of his hidden potential being thrown around.
- Rousing Speech: Kawato frequently hands these out. His favorite seems to be Dare to Be Badass.
- Save Our Team: What Kawato was hired to do.
- The Stoic: Ironically, Shinjo, after he stops being The Berserker.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Kawato, lampshaded repeatedly.