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Slam Dunk Vol. #20 Manga Review

2 min read

A weary and worried Shohoku fight to keep their lead as the clock ticks down.

Creative Staff
Story: Takehiko Inoue
Art: Takehiko Inoue
Translation/Adaptation: Stan! and Joe Yamazaki

What They Say
Shohoku steadily increases their lead against Ryonan with less than ten minutes remaining in the game, but the all-out attack wears Shohoku down and fatigue is getting the better of them. Without Coach Anzai’s guidance, Shohoku struggles to hold on against Ryonan as their weaknesses are exposed one by one. Sakuragi’s inexperience is one of their biggest and the margin for error is slim with Sakuragi on the court. Is this game going to push Shohoku to the edge of total collapse?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
They say the best offense is a good defense. On the other hand, you could make a good case for the opposite point of view. The best defense is a good offense: if you score enough points, the other team’s going to have a tough time catching up–regardless of how sloppy your defense is. That’s an idea that comes into play (no pun intended) in this volume of Slam Dunk. Shohoku racks up a big lead thanks to a big offensive push. The question is whether or not it’ll hold out in the grueling final minutes of the game.

I’ve been constantly impressed with Inoue’s command of his images, the flow of his storytelling, and his knack for working real-life basketball tactics smoothly into his games. He makes it easy to follow–nobody needs to be an expert in basketball, or even know the fundamentals, to read Slam Dunk–and yet keeps a depth that would be ruined by oversimplification. He uses strategy, not because it’s there, but to keep the tension high. It’s amazing how he can weave together so many different aspects of the game. Each volume renews my respect for his abilities as a conductor–which are all the more astonishing when you consider he’s also playing all the instruments.

In Summary:
In hindsight, one of the things that makes Slam Dunk such a masterful experience is remembering just how many ways the series can entertain you. Look at those frames where the Ryonan coach gloats over Shohoku’s weaknesses. Those expressions are positively frightening. Look at the faces of the players in the final third of the book: drenched faces, hunched shoulders–you can practically hear their ragged breathing. But the exhaustion of the players is not reflected in the artist, at least not visibly. I feel like he could go another twenty volumes without breaking a sweat.

Content Grade: A+
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: February 7th, 2012
MSRP: $9.99