SMAC! Web Magazine

mangacracker #9

 

Slam Dunk

Takehiko Inoue

Original run: October 1, 1990 – June 17, 1996

 

“A misfit reluctantly takes up basketball to grab the attention of his High School crush”

 

Sakuragi Hanamichi is a rebellious delinquent, determined to get a date in his first year of high school. After being rejected for the 50th time, Sakuragi is enraged to discover his latest rebuff was a result of loosing out to a member of the School basketball club. As a result, Sakuragi develops a deep hatred for the sport, to the point where he can’t even hear the word “Basketball”.

With his intimidating appearance and brooding nature, he is surprised by the nonchalant reaction from Akagi Haruko, a cute fellow student. A huge fan of basketball, Haruko suggests he try the sport after admiring his strength and height.

Eager to impress Haruko, Sakuragi readily signs up for the team where, despite his childish behavior and hot temper he proves to have an exceptional talent for basketball.

However, Haruko has eyes for another excellent basketball player, Kaede Rukawa. A rival both and off the court, Rukawa proves the catalyst for Sakuragi’s transformation into basketball star and a valuable member of the team.

Though his career as a high school basketball player was rooted in impressing a girl, Sakuragi begins to learn the value of friendship, teamwork and camaraderie, earning himself a respected place in a sport he once hated.

 

 

NUTCRACKING TIME!

Although Slam Dunk is widely considered a “Sports Manga”, the story is, at it’s heart a love tale. Sakuragi falls for Haruko, who in turn gives herself to Rukawa, albeit unrequitedly. This scene immediately creates the time honored, drama laden literary vehicle that is the “Love Triangle”.

Packed with amazing visuals and action scenes, Slam Dunk often and expertly diverts into ridiculous tragicomedy, providing a soothing respite from the intense action on the court.

Sakuragi is a classic example of a “Rebel without a Cause”. The brash, brooding and misunderstood hero of Slam Dunk grows through a series of trial and tribulations into a well respected and responsible team player. A thoroughly enjoyable transformation to witness, Sakuragi Hanamichi will almost certainly “Slam Dunk” his enigmatic charisma into your hearts!

 

 

Where is the WASAMON?

The fact Takehiko Inoue spent a portion of his life in Kumamoto does not go unnoticed in the making of Slam Dunk. Debuting in 1990, Basketball was notably absent among the preferred sports in Japan, where baseball, sumo, karate and judo reigned supreme. This fact was not lost on the bigwigs at Shueisha, where they balked at the idea of making a manga about this almost unknown sport. But having played, and loved Basketball, Inoue sensei saw an almost limitless potential in this high pressured, action packed environment. To figure out the solution, Inoue sensei create “Purple Kaede” and “Aka ga Suki”, two one shots featuring the Rukawa and Sakuragi, previously to Slam Dunk’s release. These works allowed him to know the readers reaction to these characters, creating the a concrete base for Slam Dunk. Inouese sensei learn from these two one shots how to please the readers, saying that ” Drawing manga for yourself won’t create an exciting manga for the readers”. Luckily for us, Inoue sensei took into considerations the readers opinions, gaining him Shueisha’s approval,  giving this now hugely successful manga a chance and rest, as they say is history.

 

 

“…So I have to play basketball to find a girl?!..cof cof
Mangakas really work hard to please the readers!”

 

 

 

 

Did you find another Wasamon trait  in Slam Dunk?

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