May Contain Spoilers
And finally, it’s time for Nationals! On the train to the tournament, the Shohoku players have a little run-in with their first opponents – Toyotama. The tension is immediate and fierce. Power forward Kishimoto and Hanamichi almost come to blows. They are like a couple of roosters about to do battle in the chicken coop, and things quickly get out of hand. Until Toyotama points out Shohoku’s ranking in a basketball magazine. The entire Shohoku team’s morale is sucked away, in an instant.
Toyotama is ranked A, while Shohoku is ranked C. Talk about a confidence killer. Coach Anzai is pleased with the ranking. His players should feel no pressure. They know how well they play, and they will prove that the ranking isn’t correct. I really like Anzai, and I think he’s under-utilized in the story, but when he has something to say, it’s usually pretty significant.
With the bad blood between the teams, the game with Toyotama is like a war. Tempers flare, emotions run high, and fouls are called. Hanamichi is pulled from the game, much to my disappointment, and Yasuda is subbed in, with the instructions to slow the pace of the game. Anzai realizes quickly that if Toyotama is allowed to play their run-and-gun style, Shohoku doesn’t have a chance of winning. With Hanamichi fuming on the bench, Yasuda, cool as a cumber, hits the court, taking his instructions very seriously. The team didn’t work as hard as they did and travel all this way to get washed out in the first round!
This was another great installment of the series, and I know I say that a lot. It’s true. The games are so exciting, and Inoue quickly establishes so much conflict between the teams that it’s hard to put these down. The art is so action-packed and dramatic, and I love Slam Dunk to pieces.
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?
Now that they’ve made it to the Nationals, Shohoku learns exactly where they rank in the overall standings compared to some of the other teams, and they don’t like it! Shocked to learn that they’re only a C-ranked team, they’ve got to get their game on to beat their A-ranked first round opponent, Toyotama. Even if they beat Toyotama, Shohoku’s opponent in the second round is last year’s champion, Sanno Kogyo. For Sakuragi, Akagi, Rukawa and the boys of Shohoku High, the real game begins now!