Manga Review: Slam Dunk V 1 by Takehiko Inoue

May Contain Spoilers

I read the first five volumes of Slam Dunk, but for some reason, I never blogged about them. I read them eight years ago, and while I remember enjoying them, I don’t remember much plot wise. Since a local library has most of the volumes in their collection, I decided to start running through them again, given that I have almost caught up on Kuroko’s Basketball, and I am caught up on Haikyu!! How I love these sports manga. Which is mystifying, because I don’t really like sports.

Hanamichi Sakuragi has been rejected by 50 girls by the time he reaches high school. Could it be that thug-like attitude, and his propensity for fighting? This guy is a legit gang leader, more content to do his talking with his fists. When he meets Haruko, he knows he’s in love (again). She is a huge basketball fan, and because of Sakuragi’s immense height, she tries to talk him into joining the basketball team.

This was a fun read. The first chapter is all in color, and while the pages are just paperstock and not glossy pages, it was so novel to see color pages in a manga that the cost cutting only mildly registered. The art is rather old school, but given the age of this series, which originally ran in Shonen Jump in 1991, that’s to be expected. Inoue’s art is still expressive, bursting with action, and boasting intense basketball and fighting sequences.

Sakuragi is a bit of a dope, but he’s a lovable guy. Too bad about that temper. His bursts of rage are so counter-productive, and set him back constantly. Because of his bad rep, his female classmates steer far, far away from him, making his dream of walking a special lady to school just that – a dream that looks like it will never come true. Then a chance encounter with Haruko shows him the glory of a slam dunk, even if he did royally muck it up, and slam his head instead of the ball. I guess everyone has to start somewhere.

Sakuragi immediately alienates the team captain, Takenori Akagi, Haruko’s older brother. He refuses to have a loser and thug on his team, so he rejects Sakuragi’s attempts to join the team, which are only to impress Haruko, anyway. Sakuragi refuses to give up because this kid is like a dog with a bone. Once he has an idea, he just does not let it go, regardless of how shortsighted it may be. Through hard work and perseverance, he finally convinces Akagi to give him a chance. Only Sakuragi knows absolutely jack about basketball. Nothing. Nada. How is he going to learn enough, and practice enough, to ever play in a game? He can’t even dribble the ball. And rules? He knows nothing of the rules of the game.

I really enjoyed this first book in this classic sports manga series, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Basketball. The court, the ball, the hoop. The hopes, the dreams, the sweat. It takes dedication and discipline to be the best, and the Shohoku High hoops team wants to be just that–the best. They have one last year to make their captain’s dream of reaching the finals come true–will they do it? Takehiko Inoue’s legendary basketball manga is finally here, and the tale of a lifetime is in your hands!
Sakuragi Hanamichi’s got no game with girls–none at all! It doesn’t help that he’s known for throwing down at a moment’s notice and always coming out on top. A hopeless bruiser, he’s been rejected by 50 girls in a row! All that changes when he meets the girl of his dreams, Haruko, and she’s actually not afraid of him! When she introduces him to the game of basketball, his life is changed forever..