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Slam Dunk Vol. 5 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 21, 2009 by  



“Slam Dunk” vol. 5 continues the exhibition matchup between Shohoku and their rivals Ryonan. But with Shohoku team captain Akagi injured, can Hanamichi, Rukawa and the others do well without their center?  Find out in volume 5 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. 5

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 4, 2009

Hanamichi finally gets some game time as a substitute for the slightly injured captain Akagi and quickly goes about making a spectacle of himself. Not only does he manage to strip the ball from Ryonan’s veteran center, but he also succeeds in making several key passes that result in some much-needed baskets. With Shohoku closing in on their opponents’ lead, is Hanamichi on the verge of proving that he has what it takes to become the next captain?

He may not know all the fundamentals of basketball, but first year Shohoku High School student, Hanamichi Sakuragi has his first opportunity to play in his first exhibition game against Shohoku rival Ryonan.

But so far, Ryonan’s defense has proven to be superior thanks to their captain Uozumi and their phenom, Sendoh.  Akagi is injured and sent to the medical room leaving Hanamichi, Rukawa and the others to pick up for the defense.

But as Ryonan has prepared their game against Shohoku, knowing the weaknesses of others.  They are surprised when they come up against Hanamichi Sakuragi!

Find out how this continuing matchup goes in “Slam Dunk” Vol. 5!

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 continues as Shohoku must adjust without their team captain Takenori Akagi who was injured.

Can Hanamichi, Rukawa and the others prevent Shohoku from being blown out in this matchup?

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 5, the intensity of basketball and the strategy from the coaches is featured in volume 5 as both Hanamichi and Rukawa must try to prevent Ryonan from scoring.  As Rukawa tries to figure out how he can go against Ryonan’s phenom Sendoh, Hanamichi tries to figure out how to go against their team captain Uozumi.

But for Hanamichi, he is still learning the fundamentals and must learn the benefits of rebounding and passing to teammates.  Meanwhile, Ryonan’s coach is in awe about Hanamichi’s gameplay and tries to wonder what Shohoku’s coach is doing, with their plan of utilizing Hanamichi.

Meanwhile, an injured Akagi returns.  But with Ryonan ahead in points, can Shohoku mount a comeback?  All this and more in the latest volume 5 of “Slam Dunk”!

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 6!

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. 5 is highly recommended!

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