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Slam Dunk Vol. 25 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

December 14, 2012 by  



Shohoku High School must prepare for their next competition at the Summer National Tournament and this time, it’s the #1 ranked team, last year’s championship team, Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo.  Will the guys be ready and will they be prepared to face off against the fan favorite?  Find out in volume 25 of “Slam Dunk”!

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

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MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 25

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 4, 2012

 

After watching a video of Sannoh’s semifinal game from the previous year, the Shohoku players, except Sakuragi of course, are feeling nervous – three of Sannoh’s starters this year played on that championship team. To make things worse, the stands are filled with Sannoh supporters eager to see their favorite rack up an easy win against Shohoku. But Coach Anzai’s been here before and he knows his players, instructing them to lead off with a surprise attack that lets Sannoh know that Shohoku’s in the house, and they aren’t going out without a fight!

The National Tournament (the summer championships) so far has proved to be exciting as the C-ranked underdogs, Shohoku High School has beaten “A” ranked team, Toyotama High School.  Bit now, Shohoku High has the most difficult challenge they have ever faced and that is to take on Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo, last year’s championship team and also the team that is looked at as the best high school team in Japan.

And as the guys of Shokoku High School are watching videos of Sannoh Kogyo playing and defeating nearly every competitor by more than 15 points each game, the guys start to worry about their chances of beating the top team at the tournament.

Meanwhile, as Sannoh Kogyo watches video tape of Shohoku High School, they don’t really seem them as a deep threat.  They even go against a college team that are similar in style as Shohoku and blow them away.

But will Shohoku High School gain the confidence they need in order to take on Sannoh Kogyo?

Find out in the beginning of Shohoku High School vs. Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo competition in vol. 25 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 25?

In Volume 25 of “Slam Dunk”, as the Shohoku High School basketball team preps for their matchup against Sannoh Kogyo, the team are in shock to see how awesome Sannoh Kogyo is.  Dominating on offense and defense, the guys suddenly start to feel overwhelmed that they may not be good enough to beat the top team, except Sakuragi who wants to show that he is the best player.  But with confidence a bit low, the coach must find a way to get his guys ready.

Meanwhile, we get to see how Sannoh Kogyo is preparing for their matchup with Shohoku High School.

And the matchup between Shohoku High School (Rank C) vs. Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo (Rank A) begins!

For the love of basketball and manga, “Slam Dunk” is seen as a classic!   The thrill of basketball competition is alive and active in volume 25 of “Slam Dunk”.

In this latest volume, we get to see how the guy’s are not going to get any easy breaks after their last win, because next up is last year’s champions, the pinnacle of Japanese high school basketball, Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo.

As any team who is studying the top team may feel underwhelmed by their scoring prowess and defense, Shohoku knows they are the underdogs, that people will rally against them and are not expected to win or do well against Sannoh.  But the guys must drum up their confidence that they can beat Sannoh Kogyo and bring it to the basketball court.

And to see the guys go from bummed out to seeing the spark in their eye as they know they are going to have to put it all on the line to beat this top team is exciting!

As this volume sets up the competitive battle between both high schools, the cool part is just seeing the team dynamics and also seeing Sakuragi  showing off but also discovering more about himself as a player.  He has been the wild card of Shohoku, but may prove to be their awesome weapon.  But that remains to be seen!

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.   From the layups, the dunks, the defensive coverage and just the feeling of basketball, he captures it so well in the pages of each manga release.

So for any “Slam Dunk” fan, this is a pretty awesome volume and definitely exciting as the guys must take on the best ranked team at the tournament in order to accomplish their dream!

If you love basketball and you love manga, “Slam Dunk” vol. 25 is recommended!

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