REAL vol. 14 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 7, 2016 by  


Volume 14 of “REAL” showcases various individuals discovering something about themselves and possibly going in a new direction with inspiration.  Recommended.

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STORY AND ART BY: Story by Takehiko Inoue (井上雄彦)


PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2016

Takahashi has finally decided to pick up the ball again. But wheelchair basketball is a completely different game, and he’ll have to start from the fundamentals. Will Takahashi’s ego and his old ways prevent him from finding his passion?

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 14 of “REAL”, the story focuses on individuals now accepting their disability and wanting to get involved in sports, as they did when they were ready to walk.  Former professional wrestler, Scorpion Shiratori wants to get back in the ring one more time.

Takahashi, the once former captain of the basketball team who became paralyzed after an accident, has finally decided to play wheelchair basketball.

Togawa finding new meaning of wanting to play wheelchair basketball.  Nomiya trying to find answers in his life.

And others wanting to face their disability and find a way to compete or even support their friends, even though they face difficulties ahead.

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 14, the volume focuses on acceptance and self-discovery. Various individuals are featured and accepting their disability or their new direction in life.

From Takahashi, who was once the captain of the basketball team, finding new meaning of wanting to play basketball and compete once again but this time in wheelchair basketball and to excel.

Fumika, as she finds her new direction to coach the Tokyo Tigers.  Togawa being inspired of a friend who is deadly sick but never gives up.  And Nomiya, depressed but starting to slowly come out of his shell.

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 14 of “REAL” showcases various individuals discovering something about themselves and possibly going in a new direction with inspiration.


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