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Slam Dunk Vol. 9 by Takehiko Inoue (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 13, 2013 by  



“Slam Dunk” vol. 9 showcases the beginning of the prefectural tournament and who gets to advance to the national tournament.  Will Shohoku High School do well in their first round of competition? Find out in volume 9 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. 9

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: April 6, 2010

He tried to slam her with love, but she dunked his heart. As luck would have it, the basketball team narrowly avoids suspension over the all-out-brawl incident when Yohei and Mitsui’s friends take responsibility. Now, with Mitsui back in the lineup for the first time in two years, Shohoku quickly resumes practice in preparation for their upcoming tournament.

As punishment for the lack of discipline they displayed in the fight, though, Coach Anzai decides on a starting lineup for Shohoku’s game without Hanamichi, Rukawa, Ryota and Mitsui. Can Anzai’s squad hold their own when their best players (and perpetual problem children) ride the bench?

With Sakuragi, Rukawa, Mitsui and Miyagi getting involved in a fight with athletes from another school, the last thing these troublemakers of Shohoku High School need is to get in trouble before the Prefectural Tournament which is to start on May 19th.

Fortunately, Sakuragi’s buddies are there to take the blame but Coach Anzai knows that he needs to show his team that fighting is not a solution and holds them back from starting in the first game of the tournament.

With the first game of the Prefectural Tournament about to begin, will Shohoku High be ready?  Meanwhile, Sakuragi finds himself in a predicament of being fouled out of games, can he find a way to minimize his fouls, so he’s not taken out of the game?

Find out in “Slam Dunk” Vol. 9!

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 9, it’s the time of the year that all basketball players for various high school teams have been waiting for and that is to compete in the Prefectural Tournament.  And for Shohoku High School, they need to win each game to make it to the national tournament.  But are they ready for the big game?  And how will Sakuragi do?

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 9, the intensity of basketball and the strategy is the main focal point for “Slam Dunk” as the Prefectural Tournament is now here and for Shohoku High School to advance to the nationals, they must win!

For this volume, we get to see Shohoku High School playing in three matches and to see how each player does in competition but as Hanamichi Sakuragi, he has one major problem and that is his defense is good but he gives to many fouls, in fact, he fouls out in every game.  But can he keep his fouls to a minimum?

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.  But what I enjoyed about this latest volume is showing Hanamichi’s progression as a player.  While he has learned the game quickly, he is still learning the fundamentals and finds himself worried because he fouls out of a game too quickly.  So, it’ll be interesting to see how he improves from this latest challenge.

As for the manga, the detail of Inoue’s artwork is just wonderful, the action, the sweat, the emotions are captured amazingly well on each page.

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!

Takehiko Inoue’s “Slam Dunk” vol. 9 is highly recommended!

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