Manga Review: Slam Dunk V 21 by Takehiko Inoue @shonenjump @vizmedia

May Contain Spoilers

OMG, this was an incredible installment of Slam Dunk. Those final eight minutes of the match against Ryonan managed to last for over one hundred glorious pages. The drive, the determination, and the heart displayed by Shohoku were all there, in fantastic spreads and action packed panels. I don’t know how to cover this volume without giving away big spoilers, so I will try to be as vague as possible.

Mitsui gets clobbered during the last play of the previous volume, and he has to be substituted from the game. He is dehydrated and exhausted, and is also suffering from a split lip. He, of course, feels that he’s let everyone down, as the score is still so close, Ryonan has most of the momentum, and Kogure has to enter the game instead. Maybe some things were just not meant to be?

Hanamichi is a fiend during the final minutes. He is everywhere at once. Coach Taoka, who completely dismissed him as Shohoku’s weakness because he’s a newbie, started having major regrets. He also underestimated Kogure, and we all know that when the chips are down, he manages to land a few baskets.

I enjoyed Kogure’s backstory. He joined the team to get stronger, not because he has any love for the game. Together, he and Akagi practiced, trained, and played games, building both their friendship and their love for the game. Kogure isn’t as athletic as some of the other players, but he can keep his head when things get crazy, making him a solid contributor to the team. And his ability to score points doesn’t hurt, either.

My favorite chapter so far, I think, is Ch 184 Win/Loss. There are several pages with no dialog, just heartstopping, intense art. The action is so easy to follow, and there is so much drama taking place, as every player on the court gives his all to winning the game. I loved it! The art throughout this series is superb.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Winning isn’t everything in the game of 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. They have one last year to make their captain’s dream of reaching the finals come true–will they do it?
It’s do or die for the Shohoku High School Basketball Team! If they want a spot in the Nationals, they need to win this game. As the second half winds down, Shohoku hangs on to a one-point lead over Ryonan despite Mitsui’s collapse. Ryonan keeps the pressure on with their best players, Uozumi, Fukuda and Sendoh, giving it all they’ve got. Sakuragi steps up defensively, and now he’s Shohoku’s last hope of staying alive in the tournament, but is he up to the challenge?