May Contain Spoilers
This is going to be more like a mini review, because the entire volume focuses on the first half of the game against Sanno. And while there have been previous volumes that are strictly confined to the arena of a game, the stakes seem so much higher here. One loss and Shohoku goes home. The season is over, and the seniors’ high school careers are over. I want so much more than that for Akagi; he’s worked hard his entire school career, and he deserves to have his dream of winning the Nationals come true. Even if Hanamichi inadvertently does everything to mess that up.
Mitsui finds his groove, and he starts sinking 3 pointers all day long. He begins to think that he is better than he’s given himself credit for. Even with his prolonged absence from the game, he can feel himself getting back into the rhythm of play, and while his stamina isn’t what it was, his getting his shooting muscle memory back.
Rukawa has been stymied so far, leaving the pressure to fall on Hanamichi. Only Hanamichi the Phenom, doesn’t feel any pressure at all, because he has such an overinflated sense of self-worth. When he’s matched up with a really, really big freshman, who is taller and outweighs him, he struggles. He can’t move the guy, he can’t hold his position under the net, and he feels like he’s battling the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man. A little humble pie will do him well in the end.
This was a fun volume, with lots and lots of dramatic action illustrations. Anzai is the anchor his team needs to keep their heads in the game, and I almost feel bad for Domoto. The two coaches are playing a no-holds-barred game of chess, using their players as the pieces they maneuver around the board. Which will have the better strategy and score the win?
Grade: 4 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? With a slight lead thanks to Mitsui, Shohoku has their hands full as the game against Sanno heats up. Sanno’s coach Domoto sends in Mikio, a player whose strength and size make up for his lack of experience. Coach Anzai counters by telling Shohoku to run their offense through Sakuragi, and the game becomes a battle between the two inexperienced power players. What Sanno thought would be an easy win for them is turning out to be a lot more than they bargained for—Shohoku’s here and they mean to go all the way to the top!