Story: Takehiko Inoue
Art: Takehiko Inoue
Translation/Adaptation: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
Thanks to an impressive showing during a scrimmage between Shohoku’s rookie and veteran players, Coach Anzai decides to give Sakuragi a crack at playing center. Though the game reveals several of Sakuragi’s weaknesses, it also highlights just how far his technique has come in a very short amount of time. With but three days until the game against rival school Takezato, Sakuragi is placed on a new and grueling training regimen: he must make 500 shots each and every day!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The previous game in the tournament shook things up for Shohoku. A loss at this stage puts the team into crisis mode. One more loss will mean elimination. The team has got to find a way to take things to the next level. For Hanamichi that means level 1, at least where shooting is concerned. Time to add a new skill.
Hanamichi has already proven himself a hard worker, and if anything, his recent performance has spurred him on to work harder still. It’s shooting drills for him, starting from square one: form, grip, release; standing still and from the dribble, or even off of a pass. Repetition, repetition, repetition. He sinks all his spare time into his new efforts, and he does it without cutting class. (He can’t afford to–he needs the sleep.) Considering that Hanamichi’s drills take up about a third of the book, you might think that you’d start to get tired of it. But in Inoue’s hands it’s anything but boring. You come away with a new respect for Hanamichi when you see that he can put as much effort into running the court as he does into running his mouth. He’s really turned over a new leaf, and the rest of the team responds to it. So did I.
Inoue has been so good with the basketball action and drama lately that I’d almost forgotten just how good he is as a comedian. Take a look at Hanamichi’s first spectacular airball, or the scene where he accidentally bawls out Haruko. The guy’s timing is unreal. But there’s something else that impressed me about this volume, and it was something new. The second half of the book introduces a new basketball game. It’s good of course. ALL of the basketball in Slam Dunk is good. Here’s the kicker: it’s not a game that Shohoku’s playing in. It’s the game between Kainan and Ryonan: Shohoku plays the winner in the final game of the tournament. The neat thing about this is that it reverses the perspectives. The guys we’re used to rooting for and seeing on the court are now the characters in the stands, observing. We get to watch a game from a different point of view, and what’s more, we get to watch the characters watch the game. They’re going to play the winner, so take advantage of the opportunity to do a little scouting and size up their opponents. What they see will be crucial later on. It’ll determine what kind of defense they play and what kind of offense they’ll run. It gives us a new window looking into the mental game.
This is a transitional volume for the series, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining to read. Slam Dunk keeps coming up with fresh things to show us and insights into characters. It doesn’t show any signs of slowing up; and as good as it’s been, I just see it getting better. From characterization to art to action to storyline, this is the complete package. You can’t ask for a better read.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A+
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: June 7th 2011