Manga Review: Slam Dunk V 3 by Takehiko Inoue

May Contain Spoilers

I had a copy of a Raijin release of Slam Dunk V 3. I didn’t even remember Gustoon! Entertainment until I found this in a box of books in the basement. As a subscriber to Raijin Comics, that’s just sad. I remember how exciting it was that a Japanese comics anthology was going to be released in the US. The hey days of Tokyopop, CMX, GoComi, and all of the other publishers who once released some great content, but then shuttered for various reasons, make me nostalgic. I still haven’t forgiven DC for closing CMX, and to this day rarely, if ever, pick up any of their mainstream comics. Bleh. So much for the glory days of manga. But things are looking up with Yen Press, Kodansha Digital Firsts, and of course, Viz, the company that picked up Slam Dunk after Raijin folded. But I digress. Sorry.

The rivalry between Rukawa, Akagi, and Sakuragi is heating up. Most of their conflict is because Sakuragi is such a volatile, immature kid. He also has the attention span of a small bug, unless he is showing off for Haruko.  He burns with resentment when Rukawa is praised for his skills, because, darn it, doesn’t anyone know that Sakuragi is Basketball Man??

In this volume, Sakuragi has a dream come true. While practicing shooting lay-ups, Haruko shows up, and impressed with his dedication, offers to help him with his shooting. This was so funny, because 1 – Sakuragi is only dedicated to showing off, and 2 – Haruko is kind of clumsy, and promptly falls on her face. She may know a lot about basketball, but she isn’t really coordinated enough to actually play it, and that is too bad, because she really loves the game. Sakuragi, on the other hand, is just pretending to like the game, to attract Haruko’s interest.

Sakuragi continues to be his usual obnoxious self. He has no patience for learning the basics of the game, he wants to thrash both Rukawa and Akagi, and he can’t understand why the coach doesn’t recognize his brilliance. Yeah, this guy is a dunce, and I wonder how he ever learned to tie his shoes. Despite these character flaws, this is a fun read, though Sakuragi’s constant comparisons to other characters to primates is getting old, fast. He is a guy who only knows how to settle disagreements or slights with his fists (or head butts), and that gets tiresome.

Despite these gripes, I’m enjoying Slam Dunk, though I’m looking forward for the games to begin. Sakuragi still has no grasp of the basic mechanics of gameplay, and forget about knowing the rules – that’s beyond him right now. All he wants to do is dunk the ball, because it looks cool, but the chances of him being able to successfully pull that off right now in competition – not so likely.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy purchased from Borders (yes, I’ve had this a while)

About the book:

Premiering the story of the Shohoku Prefectural High School basketball team, and their newest star player, Sakuragi Hanmichi, who’s also the newest freshman delinquent A novice on the court, and in love, Sakuragi learns to master the game and will play to bring the national championship to Shohoku and true love to his heart.