May Contain Spoilers
This volume is a nice mix of showing how little Sakuragi knows about basketball, and how much of a tough guy he is. We all know that he has a marshmallow center, mainly where Haruko is concerned, but he’s got his rep to think about, too. When the captain of the judo team makes a play for Sakuragi to join his team, things don’t go exactly the way he expects.
The first half of the book shows Sakuragi’s frustration being stuck on the sidelines, learning the basics of basketball. He longs to be the Basketball Man he envisions in his head, but the reality is a long, long way off. As he seethes with jealousy watching Rukawa tear up the court, he doesn’t understand why he isn’t given the opportunity to get out there and play. When he is finally given the chance, he makes a muck of it, earning even more animosity from Akagi. Sakuragi just can’t do anything right when Akagi is around, and the competition between them is hilarious.
When Akagi learns that his lifelong rival, judo team captain Aota, plans on wooing Sakuragi away from the basketball team, he suddenly feels possessive of the guy who can’t play ball. Sakuragi is enticed, creepily, with photographs of Haruko, who seems to have most of the males at school in love with her. Sakuragi turns out to be made of sterner stuff, however, and the bribe to switch teams is ineffective. Much to Aota’s painful dismay. Sakuragi is a big, strong guy, so it’s completely understandable that Aota would want him on the team. He wants to win Nationals before Akagi does, and he thinks that with Sakuragi on the team it will be in the bag.
This was a fun volume, though I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first. Sakuragi is a lug, and his size earns him a lot of animosity from other tough guys. It’s a good thing that he is a decent guy at his core, because he would be a monster otherwise. The whole picture thing was stalkerish and made me a bit uncomfortable, and that type of humor just doesn’t work for me. It’s gross.
Grade: 4 stars
Review copy borrowed from my local library
About the book:
One of the most popular manga in the history of manga! Winning isn’t everything in basketball, but who wants to come in second? 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!
He may be a pain in the butt, but Hanamichi’s athletic prowess and monstrous strength have not gone unnoticed by the captain of Shohoku’s judo team. Hoping to take his troupe to a national title, the judo captain is willing to go to great lengths to lure Hanamichi away from the court and get him on the sparring mat. Will out-and-out bribery convince Hanamichi that judo’s the way to go, or will he stay a basketball man to the very end