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Slam Dunk Vol. 20 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 25, 2012 by  



One of Japan’s top selling manga series of all time, “Slam Dunk” vol. 20 features the final fourth quarter of the finals between Shohoku vs. Ryonan High School and winner advances to Nationals.  Two evenly matched teams, but despite Shohoku up ahead by 15 pts., without Coach Anzai there to guide them through defensive strategy, does Shohoku have a chance in preventing the offensive onslaught in the fourth by Ryonan High?  Basketball and “Slam Dunk” fans will definitely enjoy this latest volume!

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

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MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 20

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

 

Shohoku steadily increases their lead against Ryonan with less than ten minutes remaining in the game, but the all-out attack wears Shohoku down and fatigue is getting the better of them. Without Coach Anzai’s guidance, Shohoku struggles to hold on against Ryonan as their weaknesses are exposed one by one. Sakuragi’s inexperience is one of their biggest and the margin for error is slim with Sakuragi on the court. Is this game going to push Shohoku to the edge of total collapse?

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 20 of “Slam Dunk”, it’s the fourth quarter of the finals between Shohoku and Ryonan, two evenly matched teams but only one can go on to the finals.

With Shohoku ahead by 15 pts., it looks like it’s going to be  a clear win but Ryonan’s coach has a plan, knowing that Coach Anzai of Shohoku (who has been hospitalized) is not there to help guide the team and that nearly every player in Shohoku High’s basketball team is in foul trouble.    And now, Ryonan starts to display their offensive assault against Shohoku.  Will Shohoku be able to bounce back?

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

Volume 20 captures the thrill of basketball through its pages with an attention of detail by Takehiko Inoue on basketball from player fatigue, foul’s, strategy, you name it… you will find it in this latest volume.

And while the protagonist team, Shohoku is up ahead in the fourth quarter by 15 points, without Coach Anzai, the team is put in a disadvantage and playing with no clear plan, especially since each player is in foul trouble.

Meanwhile, this volume focuses on Uozomi of Ryonan, who has always looked at Akagi as a rival and has literally worked his butt off for this moment to play against him, but also to utilize the offensive weapons that Ryonan is known for.  But as these teams are evil matched, “Slam Dunk” vol. 20 is about the fourth quarter and ending with a teaser to the final minute of the game, with readers wondering who will emerge victorious?

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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