I say serious not because the manga is terribly gritty but because Giant Killing is about more than just the players vying for a championship. The story tackles characters in every facet of the sport: coach, player, manager, owner, PR coordinator, reporter, fans young and old. This panoramic view of the soccer scene is what makes the series so intriguing.
Giant Killing’s basic plot sounds like a classic: washed-up team is revitalized by new unconventional coach who previously betrayed the team many years before when he was their star player. Coach Tatsumi brings a lot of baggage and drama into the lives he upends by returning to his former team. But he is good at what he does, is smart, and has enough charm to make it work.
Shifting the focus to the coach already makes Giant Killing feeling a little bit different from many other sports manga we’ve had the chance to experience in English. Then the series does one better and spreads the focus to so many other characters which makes it a standout.