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Slam Dunk Vol. 17 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 20, 2011 by  



One of Japan’s top selling manga series of all time, “Slam Dunk” vol. 17 continues with the two unbeaten teams – Kainan High School and Ryonan High School taking on each other in the final half of their competition.  Meanwhile, Shohoku High School prepares for whoever the are matched up with in the semi-finals, but will a health scare involving their coach, hinder their gameplay at the tournament?  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. 17

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: August 2, 2011

 

As the boys from Shohoku watch from the sidelines, the much-anticipated game between Ryonan High and Kainan High continues to heat up. Kainan superstar Maki’s stellar play helps swing the momentum back in his team’s direction, aided in no small part by a key player from Ryonan getting into foul trouble. However, Captain Akagi and company leave the game early when they receive an alarming bit of news: Coach Anzai has collapsed and is now in the hospital!

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 17 of “Slam Dunk”, Kainan and Ryonan High School having won one game each, go against each other. But with so many people confident that last year’s champions….Kainan High School has the better team, Ryonan High School is about to unleash the new and improved Fukuda.  But will they have all it takes to beat Kainan?

Meanwhile, the players of Shohoku High School find out that something bad has happened to their coach.  With their next tournament game coming up, will the guys be ready to compete?

Here is a brief spoiler-less summary of each chapter of “Slam Dunk Vol. 17”:

  • Chapter 144 – Road to the Nationals – It’s the second quarter and Ryonan is ahead by five points.  Can they beat the heavily favored Kainan team?
  • Chapter 145 – Superstar Matchup – It’s the matchup between Sendoh (Ryonan) and Kainan’s Maki.
  • Chapter 146One Last Push – Kainan has taken the lead by one point, can Ryonan bounce back?
  • Chapter 147 – Sendoh’s Scenario – It’s overtime…who will win.  Kainan or Ryonan?
  • Chapter 148 – The Old Man – Shohoku team members go to visit Coach Anzai at the hospital.
  • Chapter 149 – The Last Spot – With Kainan advancing to the finals, now it all comes down to the semi-finals between Shohoku vs. Ryonan.  Who will win?
  • Chapter 150 – Shohoku vs. Ryonan – Shohoku takes on Ryonan’s superstars Sendoh and the giant Uozumi.
  • Chapter 151 – Above the Rim – It’s a battle on the court between offense and defense as Shohoku takes on Ryonan.
  • Chapter 152 – Isolation – Will Sakuragi be able to play good basketball or will he end up ruining the game for the team?

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

With volume 17 of the popular basketball manga series, this latest volume is broken up into two arcs. The continuing matchup between Kainan High School vs. Ryonan High School and the second arc featuring Shohoku High School vs. Ryonan High School.

From volume 16, we learned how Sakuragi  had undergone intense training to become a better shooter, but will he be prepared in the next matchup?  Or will his cockiness get the best of him?

For the most part, if you are into basketball, “Slam Dunk” volume 17 will definitely interest you as Takehiko Inoue manages to capture the excitement of the game, especially between the superstars of Kainan vs. Ryonan high and their matchup.  With Shohoku having to take on Ryonan, it’s the first half and will be continued in volume 18.

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.

We do get a few pages of learning about Sakuragi and his father and how it relates to his coach collapsing while he is practicing.  So, it’s one of the few flashbacks of Sakuragi’s troubled life that we get to see in this latest volume.

As for the manga series, Takehiko Inoue’s 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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