REAL vol. 13 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
December 24, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“REAL” is a fantastic manga series by Takehiko Inoue about athletes and individuals who deal with a disability but are able to try and push themselves to a different level, despite their hardships and daily challenges of not being able to use their limbs. But in the hopes that they are inspired to make a difference in their lives and hopefully for others through athletic competition or some other life changing moment. Volume 13 of “REAL” is recommended!
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MANGA TITLE: REAL vol. 13
STORY AND ART BY: Story by Takehiko Inoue (井上雄彦)
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shueisha, Inc.
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga
RATED: T for Older Teen
RELEASE DATE: November 18, 2014
Pro wrestling super heel of all time Scorpion Shiratori is determined to make a comeback, despite the fact that he doesn’t have the full use of his legs. Takahashi’s in the crowd and can barely watch. But will witnessing Shiratori attempt the impossible open up something new within Takahashi?
Mangaka Takehikou Inoue is well-known for his artwork especially for his manga creations such as his basketball series “Slam Dunk” and “Buzzer Beater” and his samurai series “Vagabond”, but in 2001, Inoue decided to continue to work on a second series while “Vagabond” is still ongoing.
And with his comfort zone having been on the sport of basketball, Inoue created a more mature and serious series about those who compete in wheelchair basketball.
When the series originally started out, the series revolved around three teenagers.
Kiyoharu Togawa was one of the fastest athletes at school, but his life changes when he is diagnosed with osteosarcoma and his right leg had to be amputated below the knee. Feeling his life is over, he changes after meeting an older disabled man named Tora who introduces him to wheelchair basketball.
Nomiya Tomomi, a high school dropout and a troublemaker. One day, he gave a girl named Yasumi Yamashita a ride and due to an accident, she lost both of her legs. He feels terrible and guilty for her accident that he aims to take care of her, but one day while taking her out for a walk, he sees Kiyoharu Togawa competing in wheelchair basketball and he inspired to change his life for the best.
Hisanobu Takahashi is the captain of the basketball team, popular at school, intelligent but also a bully. One day, he steals a bike in hopes to give his girlfriend a ride to school. But he is hit by a garbage truck and becomes paralyzed from the chest down. Feeling unworthy and nothing to live for, his grades drop to the lowest level and feels terrible and feels his life is going nowhere.
In volume 13 of “REAL”, the story shifts to former professional wrestler Scorpion Shiratori. Having been disabled and unable to walk for nearly a year, he is in rehabilitation. But when his former partner and rival, professional wrestler Mamba Matsuzaka continues to check on Scorpion’s progress, Scorpion wants to go back into the ring, despite being disabled.
And so, Shiratori returns to the wrestling ring to take on his friend/rival Mamba Matsuzaka.
While Takahashi is shocked that the audience will find out that Scorpion can no longer walk and wants Shiratori to leave the ring because it may embarrass him, Dr. Hanasaki is confident that Scorpion Shiratori will put on a great show despite the fact that he can’t walk.
But how is this possible?
I have been a big fan of Takehiko Inoue’s work. His artwork is able to convey the sport of basketball wonderfully and is able to communicate with the reader, the struggles and the challenges of the human spirit in competition.
In the case of “REAL”, the competition is more of the psyche of the individual who has lost their will to live, to fight and to go on with their lives after losing their legs (or with someone who has lost their legs). While one finds solace in wheelchair basketball, others find solace in seeing people fight and compete at a high level despite their disability.
And with volume 13, Takahashi’s story continues as he sees life as going south and not able to do anything with his life at all since losing his legs. But having hung around former professional wrestler Shiratori, he sees Shiratori, despite his inability to walk and has been stuck in a wheelchair, seeing Shiratori in the wrestling ring becomes very unnerving to him.
How is Shiratori going to fool the audience that he can no longer wrestle because he can’t walk.
But that is the positivity of “REAL”, showing hope and possibilities. And in this case, Scorpion Shiratori going back into the ring but somehow, because it is sports entertainment, finding a way to not let people know how bad things are with his legs but to continue and compete in wrestling.
The entire volume goes into Shiratori’s working relationship with his partner Mamba Matsuzaka and how this championship duo became separated and how their lives would change drastically as partners and friends.
As mentioned, the artwork by Takehiko Inoue is wonderful, but his storytelling for “REAL” is well-written and like his other manga, he is able to capture the human spirit, despite their challenges, in an effective way.
Because he is writing his hit samurai series “Vagabond”, “REAL” is an manga series that you will find yourself following sporadically as release are done a few times a year. So, for those who can stay patient by reading a manga series with only a few volumes per year, “REAL” is a manga worth reading and it may inspire you to check out his wonderful, hit manga series “Slam Dunk”.
Overall, “REAL” is a fantastic manga series by Takehiko Inoue about athletes and individuals who deal with a disability but are able to try and push themselves to a different level, despite their hardships and daily challenges of not being able to use their limbs. But in the hopes that they are inspired to make a difference in their lives and hopefully for others through athletic competition or some other life changing moment.
Volume 13 of “REAL” is recommended!
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