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Slam Dunk Vol. 13 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

December 5, 2010 by  



“Slam Dunk” vol. 13 features Shohoku High School vs. the prefectural favorites, Kainan High School. Behind by 15 points, can Shohoku High School make a comeback?  Find out in volume 13 of Takehiko Inoue’s hit manga series “Slam Dunk”! Recommended!

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© 1999-2009 Takehiko Inoue and I.T. Planning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 13

STORY AND ART 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: December 7, 2010

Shohoku is down fifteen points against the Kings from Kainan, so whom do they turn to in an effort to get back in the black? Superstar Kaede Rukawa, of course. Rukawa’s natural abilities help put some crucial points on the board, and a comeback seems possible, but when Captain Akagi twists his ankle on an opposing player’s foot, Shohoku quickly finds itself without one of its biggest offensive and defensive forces. Can Sakuragi step into Akagi’s shoes and keep Kainan from running away with the game?

Shohoku has advanced in the Prefecturals by beating the Shoyo High School basketball team.  But now, Shohoku must take on their most difficult rivals yet, Kainan High School coached by Takato who has exposed the weakness of Shohoku.  As Rukawa steps up his game to cut the Kainan 15 pt. lead, team captain Akagi tries to make a jump shot and falls on someone’s foot incorrectly and twists his ankle.    As Akagai is pulled out of the game, Sakuragi is put in the center position, but without their captain, does Shohoku have a chance of winning the match?

Find out in Takehiko Inoue’s “Slam Dunk” vol. 13!

What is “Slam Dunk”?

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 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 because of that, a rivalry between he and Rukawa is instantly created and Hanamichi always feels he must one-up Rukawa (despite Rukawa being a phenom high school basketball player in Japan).

And now Hanamichi Sakuragi wants to prove that he can also be a very good basketball player. And while he doesn’t know the fundamentals of the game, he shows his aptitude of learning quickly.

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.

In volume 13, the latest volume features the  continuation of the matchup betweeen Shohoku vs. Kainan.  As Kainan are the overwhelming favorites to compete in the nationals, the underdogs are Shohoku and already, they are losing by 15 points.

And to make matters worse, their team captain Akagi, suffers a sprained ankle.  But with Hanamichi stepping in for Akagi, does Shohoku have a chance of making a comeback?

If you love basketball, you will love “Slam Dunk”.

The continuing 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, he has gone through training to learn the fundamentals and from Team Captain Akagi and others on the team, he has learned to sharpen his offense and defense slowly. But most recently, learning the importance of rebounding but trying his best not to foul out (a major problem that Hanamichi has yet to figure out).

Having to learn the discipline of being a master rebounder, now Hanamichi must prove that he has what it takes to use his height, his strength and rebound skills to fill in for Akagi who has suffered a major sprain.  It will be up to Rukawa to make up some ground and put up more points on the board, while the team must do all they can to show they can play offense and defense against Kainan.

Can Shohoku make a comeback?

Once again, Takehiko Inoue’s artwork is simply wonderful. 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. But what I enjoyed about each volume is the progression of  Sakuragi Hanamichi as an important player on the team and how he went from being this brute to an actual team player.

As for the manga, the detail of Inoue’s artwork is just wonderful, the action, the sweat, the emotions are captured amazingly well on each page.

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!

If you love basketball, definitely check out “Slam Dunk” Vol. 13!  Highly recommended!

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