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Slam Dunk Vol. 26 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 15, 2013 by  



Shohoku High School takes on the defending champions, Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo. Can the underdogs, Shohoku High School find a way to beat Sannoh?  And what happens when both teams look to unpredictable players of their team?  Find out which team will lead in the first half of the competition in volume 26 of Takehiko Inoue’s “Slam Dunk”!

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

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MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 26

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: February 5, 2013

 

With a slight lead thanks to Mitsui, Shohoku has their hands full as the game against Sanno heats up. Sanno’s coach Domoto sends in Mikio, a player whose strength and size make up for his lack of experience. Coach Anzai counters by telling Shohoku to run their offense through Sakuragi, and the game becomes a battle between the two inexperienced power players.

What Sanno thought would be an easy win for them is turning out to be a lot more than they bargained for – Shohoku’s here and they mean to go all the way to the top!

The National Tournament (the summer championships) has become an excite contest as underdogs Shohoku High School has made it to the next bracket, but this time, to take on the three-time championship team, Sannoh Kogyo.

And as everyone thinks the game will be a blowout and that Shohoku has no chance, Shohoku is showing that they have what it takes to beat the A-ranked team!

And as Shohoku has their ace shooter, Hisashi Mitsui sinking three pointers, Sannoh Kogyo is now putting defensive pressure.  Knowing that they must make adjustments to the defensive pressure, Coach Anzai decides to take the risk by unleashing his untested player, the hothead Hanamichi Sakuragi.

But will the plan work?

Find out in part two of Shohoku High School vs. Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo competition in vol. 26 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 26?

In Volume 26 of “Slam Dunk”, as the Shohoku High School basketball show they are good enough to content with an A-rank team, Sannoh Kogyo knows they must change things up as they are the defending champions.  That includes sending their untested huge man, Miko Kawata.

But how will Coach Anzai respond?  Shohoku High also has an untested player…Hanamichi Sakuragi.  But will Sakuragi find a way to overcome Kawata’s massive height and frame?

This volume features the second part between Shohoku High School (Rank C) vs. Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo (Rank A).

Do you love basketball?  The excitement, the strategy that goes behind-the-scenes with coaching?

Volume 26 of Takehiko Inoue’s “Slam Dunk” explores the Shohoku High School strategy in taking on the A-ranked Sannoh Kogyo.  Instilling confidence in the team but making sure to adjust to Sannoh Kogyo’s defensive strategy and that is by utilizing Mitsui as a deep 3-point threat and Sakuragi as a jump shooter.

But its the swagger and confidence we see in Shohoku, who are not afraid to back down against the defending champions and showing that no matter how much the champs adjust offensively or defensively, that Shohoku has an answer to the challenge.

What’s interesting is seeing both teams send in their unknown players.  For Sannoh Kogyo, they are testing the massive height of their player Kawata who excels under the basket but for Shohoku, it’s all about Sakuragi who has trained so hard, to now show he’s more than a dunker and can shoot jumpshots.  But his first challenge is figuring out how to defend against Kawata.

As this volume sets up the first half of the competition, the thrill of the game of basketball is quite evident in the pages of volume 26 of “Slam Dunk”.  With a total of five volumes left in the manga series, Takehiko Inoue goes all out as the underdogs, Shohoku High continue with their dreams of winning a basketball tournament.  Can they do it?

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 I’m looking forward to the second half of the competition which will continue in volume 27 of “Slam Dunk”.

Overall, if you love manga and love basketball, “Slam Dunk” is a manga series that I easily recommend!

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