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Slam Dunk Vol. 8 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 2, 2010 by  



What led former all-star Junior High player Hisashi Mitsui from awesome basketball player to street thug?  Find out in volume 8 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. 8

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 2, 2010

The fists continue to fly as Hanamichi and Ryota refuse to back down from their full-court rumble with a group of angry thugs. Luckily, the fight comes to an abrupt halt when Kogure – one of the more sensible members of the Shohoku squad – begins reminiscing about one of the combatant’s pasts. He may be a punk now, but a little while ago, Hisashi Mitsui was a star player with almost limitless potential. Though a nasty injury cut his ambitions short, is Mitsui truly ready to give up on basketball forever?

After Hisashi Mitsui and his gang of thugs start fighting with players from Shohoku High School, this time Sakuragi and his gang friends  who have shown up now intend to fight back.

But it appears Kogure and Akagi know Mitsui and it is revealed that he was an all-star basketball player from Takeishi Junior High.  But why is he starting trouble and how did he come from being a star player to a thug?

Find out in “Slam Dunk” Vol. 8!

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 8 of “Slam Dunk”, after Mitsui and his thug friends started beating up players in the team, Sakuragi starts to show that he’s not a guy to mess around with, including his friends who come to back him up!

But when Akagi and Kogure tell the team that Mitsui was a former basketball player, everyone starts to wonder how this all-star became a thug.

A continuing story after the brawl featured in volume 7 of “Slam Dunk”.  This time Sakuragi gets to show why he’s not a guy to be messed with as he takes on the the brute, Tetsuo.

Meanwhile, Akagi has arrived and Kogure reveals to everyone that they know Mitsui and that he was once an all-star player that lost his way, but how far he has fallen and what he has become.

The volume is a flashback of how Mitsui, Akagi and Kogure were teammates and how Hisashi Mitsui and Coach Anzai were close at one time.

But what happened to Hisashi Mitsui, a revered player in Junior High.  What led him stray away from basketball?

Of all “Slam Dunk” volumes I have read, this is the volume that is not about basketball competitions but about a team working together and backing up each other like brothers against a group of dangerous thugs.  But also how ego can lead to one straying from the sport they once loved.

Overall, “Slam Dunk” is an enjoyable manga series and while this volume is not about basketball competition but about Hisashi Mitsui, Akagi and Kogure as former teammats, there is a lot of fight action that people will see in this volume. So, if you have warmed up to the characters of the series, you’ll definitely dig this volume!  Also, an important volume as Mitsui will become one of the key players of the team!

“Slam Dunk” vol. 8 is recommended!

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