By Leroy Douresseaux
August 21, 2008 - 15:29
VOL. 1: Sakuragi
Rated “T” for “Teen”
Hanamichi Sakuragi’s got no game with girls. Maybe, they won’t go out with him because he’s so intimidating; he’ll let his fist do the talking at a moment’s notice. Even though he’s a first year student at Shohoku Prefecture High School, he doesn’t look like he’s going to change his ways – picking fights with third years on the first day of school.
But change is coming. Hanamichi experiences love at first sight when he spies Haruko Akagi. He thinks she’s also in love with him, but she thinks he’d be a quick cure for Shohoku High’s ailing basketball team, although Hanamichi has never before played basketball. Haruko’s loving gaze is actually for another first year student – basketball prodigy Kaide Rukawa, but Hanamichi is determined to get her attention, even if he has to prove himself on the round ball court.
THE LOWDOWN: The beloved basketball manga, Slam Dunk, finally hits American bookshelves in an official English edition. Slam Dunk, Vol. 1 makes a spiffy debut – complete with 30 color pages and sweet bonus content (stickers, b-ball how-to’s, a LeBron James mini-biography).
As for the narrative: Slam Dunk is a romantic, sports comedy, and there’s lots of slapstick and situational comedy. It’s a gentle version of such high school comedies as Pretty Face and Strawberry 100%, but absent of sexual innuendo. The art is pretty good, and manga-ka (creator) Takehiko Inoue is quite good at drawing scenes of basketball action. Inoue’s quirky sense of character design (especially on character faces) makes Slam Dunk stand out as something funny, but also something entirely different.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Although it’s part of VIZ Media’s “Shonen Jump” line of manga (as well as being part of monthly Shonen Jump), Slam Dunk is for those who want shounen manga (boys’ comics) that is utterly different from the usual action/fantasy fare.