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Slam Dunk Vol. 14 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 6, 2011 by  



One of Japan’s top selling manga series of all time, “Slam Dunk” features the second half between Shohoku High School vs. Kainan High School.  If you love manga and you love basketball, “Slam Dunk” is a fantastic manga series worth checking out!

 

© 1999-2011 Takehiko Inoue and I.T. Planning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 14

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: February 1, 2011

 

Winning isn’t everything in the game of basketball, but who wants to come in second? It takes dedication and discipline to be the best, and the Shohoku High hoops team wants to be just that. They have one last year to make their captain’s dream of reaching the finals come true – will they do it?

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.

In Volume 14 of “Slam Dunk”, it’s tournament time and Shohoku takes on Kainan High School which feature two prodigy basketball rookies, Kenji Fujima and Shinichi Maki.  It’s the second half of the tournament and Shohoku is in the lad by two points.  The problem is that Shohoku captain Takenori Akagi is injured but with his persistence and determination to make it to the finals for the tournament, he will do all he can to help his team, even if he is in pain and injured.

But by the second half, Kainan High School’s rookies turn up the heat and are now ahead in points.  Shohoku High School’s coach needs to come up with a new game plan in order to make sure his team will win the match.

Here is a brief spoiler-less summary of each chapter of “Slam Dunk Vol. 14”:

  • Chapter 117 – A Year or Two Later – We learn more about Takenori Akagi’s backstory and why he will play injured.
  • Chapter 118 – Two Giants – Captain Takenori Akagi vs. Kainan Haigh’s Shinichi Maki…the two giants.
  • Chapter 119 – THE BEST – Kainan’s Shinichi Maki turns up the heat and shows why he is an awesome basketball player.
  • Chapter 120 – SILK – Kainan High School unleashes their three-point wizard, Jin.
  • Chapter 121 – Anzai’s Strategy – With Shohoku behind, the Coach comes up with a risky strategy to counter Kainan High School.
  • Chapter 122 – An Energetic Man – Using the coach’s new strategy, can Shohoku come back from behind?
  • Chapter 123 – Humiliation – Shohoku is making a comeback but the players laugh at Hanamichi’s underhand shots at the foul line.
  • Chapter 124 – I PLAY TO WIN – Shohoku High School cuts the Kainan High lead to 78-72.  Can they still comeback to win?
  • Chapter 125 – Team Tenacious – Both teams are competitive…will Shohoku be able to tie or take the lead?

If you love basketball, you will love “Slam Dunk”.  Takehiko Inoue is known for stretching a game for several volumes and in this case, volume 14 focuses on the third quarter up to the final two minutes of the fourth quarter.  His pages capture the emotion of basketball from Akagi playing in pain, the team drenching in sweat or in awe of Kainan High’s rookie prodigies to the crowd who are literally biting their nails as they support their two teams during the final half.

This latest volume is all-basketball, with just a few short pages of learning about Akagi’s determination of wanting to win this matchup, there are no non-basketball stories in this volume, it’s straight up all action and gameplay between the two basketball teams.

With that being said, reading this volume will go quickly because it’s more illustration versus dialogue but if you appreciate basketball and Takehiko Inoue’s work, you know that this style works and the efficacy of competition of competitive high school basketball is captured amazingly well.

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.  He also doesn’t step back when it comes to capturing the players during competition.  He fully includes detail of profuse sweating and the fatigue a player goes through from start to finish.

Overall, “Slam Dunk” is an enjoyable manga series and I can’t wait to see who wins between Shohoku vs. Kainan High School in vol. 15!

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