Slam Dunk Vol. 4 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 2, 2009 by  


“Slam Dunk” vol. 4 begins the exhibition matchup between Shohoku High School and their rivals Ryonan. But with Ryonan High School leading by 19 points, can Shohoku High School find a way to get back into the game?  And will hot-headed Hanamichi Sakuragi find a way to cool down before making himself look like a fool in front of everyone? Find out in volume 4 of Takehiko Inoue’s hit manga series “Slam Dunk”!

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© 1999-2009 Takehiko Inoue and I.T. Planning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Slam Dunk Vol. 4

STORY AND ART BY: Takehiko Inoue (井上 雄彦)


PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 2, 2009

Shohoku’s (somewhat) friendly game against Ryonan finally gets underway. Old rivalries reignite with captain Akagi going toe-to-toe with Ryonan’s center, Uozumi. Hanamichi has flat-out declared that he will personally shut down Ryonan’s ace, Sendoh, but will Kaede Rukawa take care of things before Hanamichi even gets a chance to hit the floor? Either way, this is bound to be a game to remember.

In order to see how Shohoku’s team will be for the current year, Shohoku High School has a team exhibition against rival Ryonan High School.  A team known for their Captain Uozumi and their ace, Sendoh.

And as the first game kicks off, Ryonan shows how explosive of a team they are, racking up points and being ahead by 19 points.  As Sendoh is having his way on offense and defense against Shohoku, Hanamichi sits impatiently trying to get into the game.  And his mannerisms and impatience is starting to get the attention of the team and audience watching the game.  Can this ruffian even play a game of basketball?  Can the guys of Shohoku even tame their wild beast?

Does Shohoku High School have any chance of catching up to Ryonan?   Find out in volume 4 of Takehiko Inoue’s popular hit manga series “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 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.

In volume 5, the exhibition matchup between Shohoku vs. Ryonan has begun and immediately, the Ryonan team led by their team captain Uozumi and their ace, Sendoh show they can excel on offense and defense.  And easily raise their lead by 19 points.

Despite it being early in the game, Hanamichi’s temper starts to heat up and he’s about to lose his cool in front of everyone watching.  Will Coach Anzai play the beginner, Hanamichi Sakuragi and will Shohoku find a way to get back into this game?

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

The story of a brute named Hanamichi who has his issues finding a girlfriend (or any girl to like him), but has fallen for Haruko Akagi, the sister of Shohoku High’s Takenori Akagi, the team captain of the basketball team. But knowing that she loves basketball and likes star player Kaede Rukawa. So, Hanamichi is determined in proving to her that he can excel in basketball but also hopefully winning her heart.

But because of Hanamichi’s lack of manners and basketball knowledge, will he be able to prove to Haruko and the team that he deserves to be a player for the team? Or will he be the laughing stock of Shohoku High School?

In volume 4, the intensity of basketball and the strategy from the coaches is featured as Shohoku High School has its first exhibition game against rival Ryonan High School.  Ryonan’s phenom Sendoh, and their team captain Uozumi just dominate the game and as Captain Takenori Akagi tries to figure them out, Rukawa is also having a hard time figuring out the game.

Ryonan’s coach wants his team to defeat Shohoku by 30 points and feels that the game is too easy as Rukawa is just a first year student, the other players aside from Akagi are not that good and the red head on the team (Hanamichi Sakuragi) is just a troublemaker and big mouth.

But when Akagi gets injured during the matchup, what happens when Coach Anzai sends Hanamichi to play?

Can Shohoku, who are behind by 19 points make a comeback?

So far, what a exciting and fun series “Slam Dunk” has come to be! The characters are awesome, the story is well-written and Takehiko Inoue just knows how to capture basketball on the pages of “Slam Dunk”.

His 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. The detail of Inoue’s artwork is just wonderful and I look forward to volume 5!

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 as he tries to show his worth to the team, Haruko and his friends!

“Slam Dunk” Vol. 4 is highly recommended!

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