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Slam Dunk Vol. 29 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 21, 2013 by  



Underdogs..Shohoku High School takes on the defending champions, Akita’s Sannoh Kogyo. In the fourth quarter and down by ten, with only a few minutes left, will Shohoku have an answer to Sannoh Kogyo’s awesome offense or defense? Find out in volume 29 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. 29

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 6, 2013

With seven minutes left in the second half, Shohoku slowly chips away at Sannoh’s large lead thanks to Sakuragi’s rebounds. But Sannoh’s star player Sawakita isn’t going to sit still for that! Faced with an apparently unstoppable opponent, Rukawa and Sakuragi both have to dig deep to understand themselves and their own game, and become the basketball players they were meant to be!

The National Tournament (the summer championships) continues as the underdogs, Shohoku High School has cut the deficit to 10 points against the three-time championship team, Sannoh Kogyo.

Sannoh Kogyo has dominated with their phenom Sawakita, their strong center Kawata and another top player Fukatsu.  And as Rukawa has difficulties of trying to find a way to play against Sawakita, Hanamichi Sakuragi’s gameplay has elevated.

But Eiji Sawakita is seen as the most dominant player in high school basketball in Japan.  A player who had a chance to play in America and plans to go back to America and play more basketball to elevate his game.  But what is it between Sawakita and Rukawa that they feed off from playing against each other?

As the fourth quarter winding down, can the underdogs Shohoku High School mount a comeback and trim the deficit or will the dominant Sannoh Kogyo continue the dismantling of Shohoku?

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.  And through various matches, the Shohoku High School team have evolved, as have Sakuragi’s gameplay, which he continues to shock people with his quick adaptability of the fundamentals of the game.

What happens in Volume 29?

Shohoku High School made themselves known to the championship team, Sannoh Kogyo that they had what it takes to go against them and win. And with the first quarter looking like Shohoku High had the potential to be the better team, Sannoh uses the defensive press (double teaming the ball carrier) and now Shohoku is unable to shoot or get inside the paint.  Rukawa can’t even make one point with Sawakita on him, Akagi can’t even get a basket off with Kawata guarding him and the speed of Ryota Miyagi is proving to be ineffective.

Sannoh Kogyo figures out Shohoku High School and dominantly comes up ahead by 19 points.  But now it’s the 4th quarter and Shohoku High School has managed to prevent Sannoh Kogyo from scoring and trimmed their lead down to 10 points.

But now Sannoh’s star player, Eiji Sawakita and the team intends to end this game and beat Shohoku.  Sawakita challenges Rukawa but each time Rukawa tries, he is unable to figure Sawakita out.  What kind of strategy will the team come up with the fourth quarter winding down?

The excitement of Japanese high school basketball continues in volume 29 of “Slam Dunk”!

Volume 29 of Takehiko Inoue’s “Slam Dunk” continues to explore the Shohoku High School strategy in the underdogs taking on the A-ranked Sannoh Kogyo. With Shohoku behind, it’s going to take a new strategy and full-on teamwork for them to come back from behind.

While focusing on the fourth quarter of gameplay, the storyline focuses on Sannoh Kyogo’s phenom Eiji Sawakita and how he became a dominant player.  From the moment he was born to when he was a baby, he was already playing around with a basketball and focused his life around it.  His goal is to play in America, which Rukawa has wanted to do, but was told by Coach Anzai that he’s not good enough.

And now Rukawa is learning that his strategy is not even making a dent against Sawakita.  But he remembers when going one-on-one against Ryonan’s phenom, Sendoh, he once told him that his gameplay is the same as playing one-on-one and that if he continues to play that way, he will never win in a game against him.

With those words, Rukawa thinks he may now know a way to defeat Sannoh Kyogo but they better find out how to do it as the time is dwindling under three minutes in the fourth quarter.  Can they mount a comeback?

The thrill of the game of basketball is quite evident in the pages of volume 29 of “Slam Dunk”. With a total of two volumes left in the manga series, Takehiko Inoue definitely wants to show readers that this game will not be like any game Shohoku has played. This time, the defending champs will show why they have won three years straight but will Shohoku have an answer to their amazing offense and defense?

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.

Overall, “Slam Dunk” is an enjoyable manga series that is not just for basketball fans but for those who want a manga series that captures the spirit of basketball, competition, the strategy involved in the sport but a captivating storyline with cool characters that makes this series worth recommending!

The latest volume is somewhat of a quick read because it focuses on basketball and with Takehiko Inoue’s artwork, he tries to capture the intensity of basketball in his pages with very few word balloons.  But for basketball fans, you can’t help but be captivated by the underdog/beginner Hanamichi and the entire Shohoku High School Basketball Team because they fought this hard…can they beat the champs?

“Slam Dunk” Vol. 29 is highly recommended!

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