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Slam Dunk Vol. 19 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

December 11, 2011 by  



slamdunk-v18

Shohoku High School takes on their rivals Ryonan High and now with the beginning of the second half, Shohoku is about to make a comeback. “Slam Dunk” volume 19 is recommended!

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

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MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 19

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 6, 2011

 

Thanks to consecutive three-pointers by Mistui late in the first half of the game against Ryonan High, Shohoku High ends the half down by only six points. Rukawa’s still got plenty of strength left, and he’s going to need it to face Ryonan’s ace, Sendoh. The pressure on Ryonan continues to draw fouls from them – can Shohoku exploit this and pull ahead? Or is Ryonan’s coach Taoka just waiting for Shohoku to trip themselves up?

It’s now half-time as Shohoku is behind 26-32 against Ryonan High School.  And for both teams, winner will move on to the National Tournament!

For some reason, Rukawa has not put so much into the game which has mystified Ryonan, but fortunately Mitsui’s three pointers have kept Shohoku in the game.  But as Shohoku returns to the court after half-time, will they be able to come back against the talented Ryonan High School basketball team?

Find out in Vol. 19 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.

In volume 19, it’s halftime as Mitsui has kept the team in the game thanks to drilling multiple three pointers.  But as Mitsui has done quite well, others wonder why Rukawa has not been making any shots or showing any intensity.  Meanwhile, Sakuragi tries to find a way to make others know he is a basketball phenom!  But will he make himself look good or foolish?

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

For the most part, this is all about competition between Shohoku vs. Ryonan. The game starts right after halftime with Shohoku behind by several points.  With Ryonan wondering why the game has been dominated by Akagi, Miyagi, especially Mitsui and his three-pointers, when will Sakuragi and most importantly, Rukawa…who has become the ace player of the team.

What happens when Rukawa decides to turn things up in the second half against Ryonan?

For “Slam Dunk” fans, volume 19 is another exciting matchup and to see the strategies used by Shohoku and how these underdogs are able to surprise their opponents.  But also getting to see the mindset of Sakuragi as he hates to not be the spotlight, despite basketball being a team sport.  In his mind, he still daydreams of having the Rukawa type of success and being dominant of offense and defense but he eventually learns that teamwork and playing at your best level is important.

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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