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Slam Dunk Vol. 23 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 13, 2012 by  



It’s what the players have been dreaming of… to play at the Summer National Tournament.  And now, Shohoku finds out that not only are they ranked “C”, not only will they have to go against the A ranked Toyotama High School but the winner must go against last year’s champions, Sanno Koguo.  Does Shohoku have a chance of beating Toyotama High?  Find out in volume 23 of “Slam Dunk”!

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

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MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 23

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 7, 2012

 

Now that they’ve made it to the Nationals, Shohoku learns exactly where they rank in the overall standings compared to some of the other teams, and they don’t like it! Shocked to learn that they’re only a C-ranked team, they’ve got to get their game on to beat their A-ranked first round opponent, Toyotama. Even if they beat Toyotama, Shohoku’s opponent in the second round is last year’s champion, Sanno Kogyo. For Sakuragi, Akagi, Rukawa and the boys of Shohoku High, the real game begins now!

It’s time for the National Tournament (the summer championships) and Shohoku High School players learn that not only are they rated “C” but their bracket has them facing the toughest teams in the tournament, starting with Toyotama High School.

For Toyotama, because Shohoku is rated at “C”, they don’t think that Shohoku has any chance to play against them.  But the first match of Shohuku begins as Coach Anzai prepares to use his strategy on how to take on the top-rated Toyotama high School team in volume 23 of “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 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.

What happens in Volume 23?

In Volume 23 of “Slam Dunk”, as the Shohoku High School basketball team are on their way to the summer tournament, they are shocked to see their bracket which includes Toyotama but also Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo, last year’s champs.

But as the group considers the possibility of playing the champs, Kishimoto of Toyotama overhears the group and he gets ticked off at the Shohoku players of even thinking they have a chance against these other schools when they have not even played Toyotama.  A fight nearly ensues.

As the players are restrained from fighting, the teams begin preparing for their matchup.

Volume 23 is the beginning of the summer tournament as Shohoku High School (Rank C) takes on Toyotama High School (Rank A).  Who will win?  And does Shohoku have a chance against a rank A team?

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

After taking a breather from basketball competition in volume 22, the team returns with the biggest competition in their lives and that is their first match of the National Tournament vs. an A rank team, Toyotama High School.

And things are not going to be easy.  In fact, Toyotama shows off their brilliance by countering the offensive tactics that Shohoku has in the early minutes of the game and taking an early lead.  And for the trash talking Kishimoto of Toyotama High School, he wonders if Shohoku is a joke, especially Hanamichi Sakuragi, who he has to guard.

But when Toyotama shows they are a dominant team, Coach Anzai has a new strategy to take on Toyotama and that is utilizing team captain Takenori Akagi, ace player Kaeda Rukawa and bencher Yasuda!  Will this strategy pay off?

And because we are back into tournament mode, reading this volume goes quickly as the focus begins to be more about trashtalking and strategy but showcasing Takehiko Inoue’s artwork and showing the energy and the emotions of basketball.

The beginning chapters do start off with a focus on story, primarily about the team learning about their bracket and their C ranking but 75% of the volume is focused on Shohoku vs. Toyotama.

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 of basketball. With this volume, much more exploration of characters shopping, studying or training in basketball. Character designs are well-done and it’s great to see the female characters featured in this volume as well.

So for any “Slam Dunk” fan, this is what everyone has been waiting for in the manga series.  For so long we have seen these players dream of playing at the summer tournament and now they are there, about to play their first game against the dominant Toyotama High School team and knowing that even last year’s champs are in their competitive bracket.

So, it’s not going to be an easy matchup for Shohoku High School, but these players are determined to win!

Overall, “Slam Dunk” is an enjoyable manga series that is full of excitement and captures the passion of competitive high school basketball.   If you are a basketball fan, “Slam Dunk” is a no-brainer… Definitely recommended!

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