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Slam Dunk Vol. 16 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 1, 2011 by  



One of Japan’s top selling manga series of all time, “Slam Dunk” vol. 16 features Sakuragi going through intense training to become a better shooter on the team, meanwhile the two unbeaten teams – Kainan High School and Ryonan High School take on each other in the tournament.  Who will emerge as victorious?  Another exciting manga volume of “Slam Dunk”!

 

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

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MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 16

 

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: June 11, 2011

 

Thanks to an impressive showing during a scrimmage between Shohoku’s rookie and veteran players, Coach Anzai decides to give Sakuragi a crack at playing center. Though the game reveals several of Sakuragi’s weaknesses, it also highlights just how far his technique has come in a very short amount of time. With but three days until the game against rival school Takezato, Sakuragi is placed on a new and grueling training regimen: he must make 500 shots each and every day!

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 16 of “Slam Dunk”, it’s tournament time and the story continues after the Shohoku vs. Kainan High School match in which Shohoku nearly came back to beat the top seeded team but it all came down to Sakuragi free throw shot and the problem is, Sakuragi has never been a good perimeter or free throw shooter and unfortunately, it cost them the game.

With Sakuragi having lost confidence in his game, Shohoku’s basketball team captain Takenori Akagi has Sakuragi undergo a three-day boot camp of intense training to improve his shooting.

Meanwhile, with Kainan and Ryonan High School having won one game each, the two teams take on each other.  But with so many people confident that Kainan High School has the better team, Ryonan High School is about to unleash the new and improved Fukuda.  Does Ryonan High School have any chance of beating Kainan High School?

Here is a brief spoiler-less summary of each chapter of “Slam Dunk Vol. 16”:

  • Chapter 135 – Center Mitsui – The first year students must undergo training and Sakuragi must take on the center Mitsui.
  • Chapter 136 – Take the Shot – Sakuragi is under the gun to make a shot, can he make one?
  • Chapter 1373 DAYS –  Akagi has Sakuragi take part in a grueling three-day shooting camp.  Can Sakuragi improve on his shooting?
  • Chapter 138 – Survival Game – Shohoku vs. Takezato High School in the tournament but Sakuragi is missing?
  • Chapter 139 – Ryonan’s Challenge – Everyone starts to notice Ryonan High School player Kiccho Fukuda.
  • Chapter 140 – An Unorthodox Strategy – With Kainan thinking they have this game in check, they weren’t prepared for Fukuda.
  • Chapter 141 –  POINT GUARD – In an unexpected turn of events, Ryonan High School is leading the game over Kainan High School.
  • Chapter 142 – Fukuda’s Secret – Fukuda basks in the audience’s cheers for him.
  • Chapter 143 – Kainan WAVE – Kainan High School’s Nobunaga Kioyta has had enough of his team behind in the scoreboard and wants to make sure he brings synergy to the team ASAP!

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

With the latest 16th volume of the popular basketball manga series, this latest volume is broken up into two arcs.  One dealing with Sakuragi’s training to become a better shooter and the second arc focusing on the matches between the unbeaten teams, Kainan High School vs. Ryonan High School and the strategy that Ryonan develops in order to compete against Kainan High.

In previous volumes, we know about Shohoku High School team captain Akagai’s determination of wanting his team to make it into the championships but the problem is that, although Sakuragi is an excellent rebounder and really strong on defense, if the game depends on his shooting, Shohoku will not have a chance and they need to get him better immediately.  So, Sakuragi undergoes intense training to become a best shooter, but will he be prepared in the next matchup?

While Shohoku High School is the main team being focused on in the series, writer Takehiko Inoue also showcases the competition between the other teams and in this case, Shohoku’s main rival, Kainan High School as they take on the unexpected Ryonan High School.  Unexpected in the fact that their new player Fukuda, who was once quite terrible, is now one of the best offensive/defense players on their team and although Kainan High School is favored to be the better team to win the tournament, Ryonan High School wants to show that they have the potential to be better than Kainan.

With that being said, reading this volume will go quickly because the illustration do take up a big part of the pages 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 if you are a basketball fan, “Slam Dunk” is definitely recommended!

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