Dear Boys (ディア・ボーイズ Dia Bōizu?) is a sports manga by Hiroki Yagami, published by Kodansha in Monthly Shōnen Magazine. As of June 2007, the Dear Boys series has 25 volumes in total, including the Dear Boys: The Early Days and Dear Boys: Act 2. In 2007, Dear Boys: Act 2 was awarded the Kodansha Manga Award for the shōnen manga.
The story concerns the progress of the Mizuho High School basketball team as it attempts to win the prefectural championship. It also deals heavily with the relationship between the players on the team, especially the two main characters Kazuhiko Aikawa and Takumi Fujiwara.
At the outset of the manga, the team is in trouble, as there are not enough players to play a game. Additionally, the coach has left after a conflict with Fujiwara. However, Aikawa transfers to Mizuho and through his enthusiasm and sheer love of the game, infuses the few remaining members with a sense of purpose.
Despite the fact that there are only five of them (i.e., they have no substitutes), they manage to get the coach of the girls' team to coach them as well. At first, she seems very strict, but later reveals her attachment to her "Dear Boys". Together, they do their best to make their dreams come true and take their team to the top of the prefecture.
The manga isn't only focused on the Mizuho team, but also on several rival teams. In fact, the manga artist spends a bit of time developing the characters of other teams' members.
- Kazuhiko Aikawa (哀川 和彦 Aikawa Kazuhiko?) Voiced by: Kōhei Kiyasu/Ochu Otsuka (Japanese), Mark Gatha (English)
He was the one who convinced remaining players to play basketball again. Mutsumi had once said that it was as if Aikawa reminded them all about how much fun they could've all had playing basketball together. He was once the trump card and captain of the Tendōji High's basketball team. He plays the position of point forward in the team. He also has a knack of being able to jump higher than most people, and that makes up for his height disadvantage. Even though he is short, he is able to dunk.
He is considered to be a genius as can be seen in anime and it is seen that his skills seems to improve with every game that he plays. He is also the best friend of Masato Sawanobori, the star player and point guard of Tendōji High School and Fujiwara Takumi, the captain of the Mizuho basketball team.
He is always able to encourage the other players no matter how hard the game is. He is romantically involved with Mai Moritaka of the girl's team.
- Takumi Fujiwara (藤原 拓弥 Fujiwara Takumi?) Voiced by: Masaya Matsukaze (Japanese), Ethan Cole (English)
Fujiwara is a second-year student at Mizuho High. He is often nicknamed as Taku by his close friends and seems romantically involved with Mutsumi Akiyoshi of the girls' team. Fujiwara also appears to be very close to his long-time friend, Miura Ranmaru.
He was involved in an incident where he was provoked into punching the coach in his first year. The coach has since transferred to another school and Mizuho's boys basketball team was banned from any tournament for a year. He is not to be mistaken with Initial D's Takumi Fujiwara.
He has an old injury on his right knee which came from one of his games involving Miura and was ordered by Anzaki to rehabilitate his knee and make it more flexible to improve his playing ability in time for the prefectural tournament.
Fujiwara is the captain of Mizuho basketball team and plays the position of point guard. He attended Mizuho Junior High and was Miura's teammate at that time as well.
As seen in the anime and said by Aikawa that he(Takumi) is the reason due to which Aikawa can push himself way beyond his limits.It is denied by Aikawa that he(Fuji) was equal to Masato Sawanabori of Tendouji in skills.
Miura has a calm and quiet personality. He has been Fujiwara's best friend since middle school. Miura was seen not to have good stamina at the beginning of the series. He plays the shooting guard position and is the three pointer of the team. It was mentioned in the manga that he would rather be scoring points than being the playmaker of the team.He is also talented at stealing balls from his opponents. He is also the one who can shoot Fade Away Three Pointers.
During the match versus Kadena Nishi, he is forced to shoot NBA 3 pointers to help Mizuho win the match. Unfortunately, he was injured due to a foul made by Kenta Shimabukuro. He was then rested for the subsequent match.
Miura attended Mizuho Junior High and was Fujiwara's teammate at that time as well. He blamed himself for causing Fujiwara's knee injury although it is not his fault. In the anime, Keiko Ogami of the girls' team seems to have a crush on him.
Fujiwara had intended Miura to, before the start of tournament, become a player to be feared. He wants Miura to be like before, be unpredictable with his pin point passes, judgement and sharp shooting.
- Tsutomu Ishii (石井 努 Ishii Tsutomu?) Voiced by: Tatsuhisa Suzuki (Japanese), Brendan Hunter (English)
Ishii is an extremely short-tempered person. It was highlighted that his weakness is being easily provoked by the opposing team to foul, and is prone to commit four fouls at a crucial time of a match. However, as the team starts to advance to the final, he has grown mature and his skills were also starting to grow more steady and powerful.
He plays the position of power forward in the team. It appears that he and Dobashi are close friends, having played on the same team during middle school. Ishii attended Takakura Junior High. And it says in the episodes that he matches with the big machine.
- Kenji Dobashi (土橋 健二 Dobashi Kenji?) Voiced by: Katsuyuki Konishi (Japanese), Lucas Gilbertson (English)
Dobashi is the largest on team. He resembles Miura and has a quiet personality. Although his legs are not strong, he proves to his teammates that he can steal, rebound and defend better than ever before. He plays the position of center in the team.
He is often called "old man" by Ishii because of his hair and appearance. In the anime, before the prefectural championship, he changed his hairstyle. Dobashi attended Takakura Junior High.
As the story passes, he was one of the pillars for the team and his presence is felt. Whenever he was injured, the team performance will fare badly because everyone expects him to be there being the main guy in defence.
- Tōya Takashina (高階 トウヤ Takashina Tōya?)
Takashina is first seen practising alone in one episode, and later became the 6th member of the boys' team. It was said that he can play any position in a team. He is extremely talented in shooting three-pointers, matching up to Miura's level of skill and excellent in rebounds.
It is said that Takashina was a friend of Ayumi Fuse during middle school.
- Mutsumi Akiyoshi (秋吉 夢津美 Akiyoshi Mutsumi?)Voiced by: Miki Yoshino (Japanese), Carol-Anne Day (English)
Mutsumi is the captain of the girls' basketball team, and is a close friend of Moritaka's. She seems to be romantically involved with Takumi Fujiwara of the boys' team. She plays as a point guard on the team and used to admire Fujiwara's talent.During the quarter finals match,she couldn't play because of her emotional distress, and she fouled many times and was benched.But after Fujiwara opened up to her before the finals ,she played to her fullest, making Mizuho win.
Mai seems to be romantically involved with Kazuhiko Aikawa and becomes his girlfriend later in the series. Aikawa nicknames her "Pony" because of her long ponytail-like hair when he first saw her.
Her position on the team has never been revealed, neither in the manga nor in the anime. However, after some advice and personal training from Aikawa, Mai has the highest shot percentage among all her teammates when it comes to 3-pointers.
Keiko plays as a center for the girls' team and is the tallest among all her teammates.
She appears to have a crush on Miura and is proven on two occasions: one when she gave Miura a 'victory sign', and another when Mutsumi remarked if Keiko would get jealous after seeing a couple of girls approach Miura to congratulate him over the team's recent victory.
Two video games were released.
The anime version of Dear Boys, also known as Hoop Days, was released on TV in Japan in 2003. Like many Kodansha adaptations (e.g., Peach Girl), it was made on a rather low budget. As a result, it had somewhat lower quality animation than many other shōnen anime that came out in the same year.
Since the company that produced Hoop Days also produced Initial D, they featured an episode of the cast watching scenes from the then-upcoming Initial D Fourth Stage.
- Opening Theme: Sound of Bounce by Da Pump
- Ending Theme: Baller No Shougou (Baller's Number) by Chris F.
1) An Interesting Transfer Student 2) The Resurrection Of The Boys' Basketball Team? 3) Who Is The Opponent For The Practice Team? 4) Determination To Win 5) Counterattack Full Of Wounds 6) To Each His Own Emotion.. 7) A Disquieting Air 8) Cold Rain 9) Because You Are Here.... 10) Confined Passion 11) People Following Their Dreams 12) Meetings Are Sudden 13) Unengaged Gears 14) Anxiety and Burden 15) The Rivals 16) Dead Heat 17) Never Give Up 18) Game Set! 19) The Finals Opponent Is? 20) Trembling Hearts 21) Supporting Family 22) The Sixth Man 23) The Finals! 24) Back and Forth 25) It's Settled, and Then... 26) Look Towards Tomorrow