TITLE: Slam Dunk Issue 1
YEAR: (USA Release – September 2008) / (Japan release – October 1993)
COMPANY: Viz Media/Shonen Jump Manga
STORY AND ART BY: Takehiko Inoue (井上 雄彦)
First year Shohoku High School student, Hanamichi Sakuragi had to be a tough kid growing up. Often teased for his red hair, Hanamichi and his friends would be part of a gang that grouped together to fight other gangs and to show that they are not afraid of no one. And for the tall Sakuragi, he has shown his power in defeating other people in fights.
But there is another side of Hanamichi Sakuragi and that is the fact that he has been rejected by 50 girls in junior high school and now that he’s in high school, #50 tells him that her heart is for Oda who plays for the basketball team.
One day he meets Haruko Akagi, also a first-year student and is the sister of Takenori Akagi, a third-year student and the team captain of Shohoku High School’s basketball team. She also happens to have a crush on star athlete, Kaeda Rukawa, a basketball player that many girls at the high school have fallen for.
And now Hanamichi Sakuragi wants to prove that he can also be a very good basketball player and hopes he can win Haruko’s heart… But his brashness may put him in trouble with Haruko’s brother, Takenori.
As Hanamichi plans to join the Shohoku High School basketball team, not knowing how to play, will he make it through the first week of practice?
I can easily remember the popularity of “Slam Dunk” during the early ’90s. Despite being here in America, I would venture to the local Tower Records or travel to Japan Town and head to the Japanese bookstore to pick up the latest Shonen Jump magazine and watching the anime series.
Granted, I came into “Slam Dunk” several years late but I recognized how popular the manga and anime series was, especially the music and sure enough “Slam Dunk” was one of the first anime soundtracks (on cassette) that I had purchased. For me, it was quite intriguing because the sports that I have watched from Japan and manga and anime being based from those sports are typically baseball, soccer or tennis. You just don’t think about basketball but sure enough, “Slam Dunk” captured the essence of high school basketball and the excitement of team dynamics, offense/defense and squaring off against a rival team.
But this is what Takehiko Inoue is known for. A mangaka who is a basketball fan, his manga series is considered iconic in the fact that many kids in Japan played basketball and became interested in the sport because of “Slam Dunk”. In fact, the series was not just popular in Japan but also throughout Asia. The manga sold over 100 million copies in Japan between 1990-1996, earning a Shogakukan Manga Award in 2005 and in 2007, the series received the distinction as “Japan’s Favorite Manga”.
Inoue would eventually follow up with “Buzzer Beater” in 1997 (which he collaborated with ESPN) which was a more farfetched story about basketball ala intergalactic competition. Followed by a samurai manga story titled “Vagabond” in 1998 and back to a basketball manga with “Real” in 2001 (based on people with disabilities in wheelchairs who compete in basketball), so Inoue has a pretty strong following for his works.
And his hits series “Slam Dunk” has been released ala manga in America courtesy of Viz Media.
“Slam Dunk” revolves around a cocky and rough street punk named Hanamichi Sakuragi who is a first-year student at Shohoku High School. He has fallen for Haruko Akagi, the younger sister of Takenori Akagi, the captain of Shohoku High’s basketball team. But for Haruko, she likes Kaeda Rukawa, the first-year basketball star that all the female students love.
So, to prove his worth in front of Haruko, Hanamichi joins the Shohoku basketball team which includes Kiyota, Maki, Hisashi Mitsui, Ryota Miyagi and their team manager, Ayako.
But his brashness and bluntness can get him into trouble and now it leads him to a competition against Haruko’s brother, Shohoku High School Basketball’s team captain, Takenori Akagi.
If you love basketball, you will love “Slam Dunk”.
The story of a brute named Hanamichi who has his issues finding a girlfriend (or any girl to like him), but has fallen for Haruko Akagi, the sister of Shohoku High’s Takenori Akagi, the team captain of the basketball team. But knowing that she loves basketball and likes star player Kaede Rukawa. So, Hanamichi is determined in proving to her that he can excel in basketball but also hopefully winning her heart.
But because of Hanamichi’s lack of manners and basketball knowledge, will he be able to prove to Haruko and the team that he deserves to be a player for the team? Or will he be the laughing stock of Shohoku High School?
And because of his temper and says things before thinking about it…he must take on Haruko’s brother Takenori after talking badly about basketball.
Who will win the competition…the inexperienced Hanamichi or the team captain, Takenori!
Find out in “Slam Dunk” vol. 1!
What a hilarious and fun series “Slam Dunk” has come to be! The characters are awesome, the story is well-written and Takehiko Inoue just knows how to capture basketball on the pages of “Slam Dunk”.
His illustrations have always been a highlight for me and I was always amazed of how he captured movements, the offensive and defensive stances to how the players penetrate the perimeter and score. The detail of Inoue’s artwork is just wonderful!
Overall, “Slam Dunk” is an enjoyable manga series that is not just for basketball fans but for those who want a manga series that captures the spirit of basketball, competition, the strategy involved in the sport but a captivating storyline with cool characters that makes this series worth recommending!