Slam Dunk Vol. 18 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
October 4, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Shohoku High School takes on their rivals Ryonan High, but without their coach and their offense and defense not part to Ryonan High, will Shohoku High School be able to mount a comeback? Featuring part of the first half and second half of this exciting competition between both teams, “Slam Dunk” volume 18 is recommended!
© 1999-2011 Takehiko Inoue and I.T. Planning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 18
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: October 4, 2011
In a white-hot competition, you need your confidence to carry you to victory. In the Shohoku vs. Ryonan game, Akagi, still recovering from an ankle injury, has his confidence shaken when Ryonan’s Uozumi knocks him down. Now doubting his effectiveness, Akagi begins deferring opportunities to his teammates. Ryonan seizes the chance to pull away, leaving Shohoku wondering how they’re going to get their mojo back! Sakuragi’s going to have to try something unthinkable to get Akagi back on his feet and his head in the game!
It’s the second half of the matchup between Shohoku vs. Ryonan and whoever wins, gets one step closer to making nationals.
But Ryonan has proved to be much better as a team on offense and defense and with Coach Anzai still hospitalized, can the team still make a comeback?
Find out in Vol. 18 of Takehiko Inoue’s hit manga series “Slam Dunk”!
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 18 of “Slam Dunk”, Shohoku takes on their rival Ryonan. But the team may be suffering from Akagi’s ankle injury and the hospitalization of Coach Anzai. But as the team tries all they can to get back in the game, Hanamichi Sakuragi has tried all he can to stop Ryonan on defense and the pressure of the game is starting to get the best of him.
What can be done to get Shohoku High back into the game and mount a comeback?
If you love basketball, you will love “Slam Dunk”!
For the most part, this is all about competition between Shohoku vs. Ryonan. First half leading into the second half and we get to see the strategies that are used on both sides and trying to match up player vs. player.
The rivalry between these two teams are great and it’s an aggressive matchup but with Akagi’s fears of a bad ankle limiting his movement and shooting, Hanamichi’s belief in himself as a player starting to wane, it’s going to take the other players to play their best game in order to mount a comeback and without their coach, it may be difficult.
With everything on the line, Shohoku needs to find a way to comeback but most importantly, get Akagi and Hanamichi back into the game!
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.
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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