Name: Slam Dunk
Genre: Sports, Comedy, Shounen
Author: Takehiko Inoue
Original Runtime: 1990 – 1996
Hanamichi Sakuragi is a delinquent and the leader of a gang. He is very unpopular with girls and has been rejected an astonishing fifty times. In his first year at Shohoku High School, he meets Haruko Akagi, the girl of his dreams, and is overjoyed when she is not repulsed or scared of him like all the other girls he has asked out.
Haruko, recognizing Sakuragi’s athleticism, introduces him to the Shohoku basketball team. Sakuragi is reluctant to join the team at first, as he has no prior experience in sports. Sakuragi, despite his extreme immaturity and fiery temper, proves to be a natural athlete and joins the team, mainly in the hopes of impressing and getting closer to Haruko. Later on, Sakuragi realizes that he has come to actually love the sport. Thus is the premise of Slam Dunk.
Slam dunk possess one of the best plots for a sports manga. There are only a handful of manga out there that can compete with Slam Dunk when it comes to the depth and execution of story. The story is perfectly planned and always has something up its sleeve to surprise you. The thing that I found fascinating about the story was how each match was set up. Unlike most sports manga or shounen manga in general Slam Dunk often shows defeats. It depicts how each defeat affects the team morale, how it influences the relation between teammates and how they try to recover from the impact of a defeat. In my honest opinion if I am to be brutally honest I would say only the plot of Giant Killing can actually compete with Slam Dunk. Apart from the challenge of Giant Killing, Slam Dunk is almost untouchable.
Sports manga generally have a tendency to be character driven. While Slam Dunk possesses an amazing plot but the finest point of the manga is its set of characters. The main protagonist is delinquent and an absolute slacker at the beginning. He gets rejected by multiple girls and then meets Akagi with whom he instantly falls in love. However, this slacker showed great character development and became an amazing athlete through determination, perseverance and hard work. His tenacity and willpower carried him out of a lot setbacks. He is truly a fitting protagonist of such a great plot. Ryota Miyagi is my favorite of the lot. He is on the shorter side but the fastest on the team. He is also famous for his no look passes. He is smart but extremely rude. The other characters are also appealing. I am cutting it short here because there are way too many amazing characters out there.
Here are some notable characters form the manga:
The art is the weak link of this great manga. While it gradually improved, but it was at times confusing and hazy. While this is not an issue in normal scenes but during the matches it is an impediment to the enjoyment. I actually later realized those matches were very exciting when I saw the anime cause I was a bit taken aback by the manga drawing. This probably was due to the time as the manga started publishing in 1990.
Here are some art samples from the manga:
Charismatic characters, fascinating plot and a good dose of adrenaline rush, the perfect recipe for a sports shounen. Slam Dunk offers everything you can ask for. Most importantly Slam Dunk is realistic. The main character doesn’t miraculously get power ups at dire moments and pull of an upset win. The manga is as human as it can possibly be.
Slam Dunk is the pinnacle of sports manga out there only rivaled by Giant Killing. If you are a sports enthusiast it is a must read. I loved every bit of it and I highly recommend it for all of you. So stop reading my review and start reading Slam Dunk.