Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Slam Dunk

Genre: Sports / Comedy
General Audience
1993-1996 Takehiko Inoue / Toei Animation / TV Asahi

Slam Dunk DVDs
Slam Dunk Manga and Art Books
Everything Else

Skysenshi's Description:
Hanamichi Sakuragi is a high school freshman who is used to fisticuffs and street fights. He falls head over heels in love with his classmate Haruko, who unfortunately has an uncurable crush on the basketball club's popular small forward Kaede Rukawa. So what does our tall redhead do? He joins the basketball team of course -- even though he doesn't know a thing about the sport. And so the fun begins...

(101 Episodes)

One great sports anime! >>> by skysenshi (08.28.2001)
I was an avid fan of this anime back in 1997 when I was still in college. At that time it aired every Saturday at ABC-5 channel, and the torture of waiting for the weekend was utterly unbearable. It has been re-released recently by AXN channel and thank goodness AXN had the decency to air it on a daily basis. Although that isn't even enough, since SD has this Dragon Ball-like habit of keeping one in suspense up to the last minute. My only gripe with AXN is that ABC-5's Filipino dubbing seems to be more accurate and funnier than their simplified subtitling.

So why did I like this anime? Jeez, the artwork could certainly use some improvement, but I guess that aspect of Slam Dunk is all part of its appeal. It makes all the humorous situations all the more wacky and unique. The lead guy, Hanamichi, is so lovestruck he can't seem to do anything right - at least at first. Oh, I forgot, he's naturally like that. He definitely looks as attractive as a lab experiment gone wrong (so is his little team mate Ryota) but he can really make you suffer the worst gas attack due to excessive laughter. He certainly isn't your regular knight-in-shining armor type of hero, but is actually more human than you can ever imagine. The same thing is true about every other character in Slam Dunk. Nobody's perfect, not even the cold silent type Rukawa, who has his comedic moments.

Let me warn you guys a little about a pet peeve of mine, though - Hanamichi's unbelievably dense love interest whose name is Haruko. I can't even, for the life of me, figure out why he's so hung up over her when she's one of the homeliest anime characters I have ever seen. Perhaps it's because there are next to zero pretty girls in this anime? Well, there's still the coach's assistant Ayako, but that babe is meant for other things. On the bright side, without Haruko, Hanamichi wouldn't be making a fool of himself in front of my TV screen and I wouldn't have his crazy antics to watch out for everyday!

And there's my Mitsui...

Do high school guys really look like that? >>> by icesenshi (10.16.2001)
Whoa, I wish! Even my beefiest high school guy friends won't even look like Akagi Takenori for another ten years! But kidding aside, Slam Dunk can get any hot-blooded female neophyte into basketball in the most enjoyable way ever - the basics served up with so many bishounen! I can't stop squealing over it! It seems that there are hunks on every team in the show... if you ever get sick of Shohoku's Rukawa, Mitsui and Ryota (*swoons*), then you can always go over to Ryonan, Shoyo and Kainandai to satisfy your bishounen cravings.

Anyway, I will now stop being the giggly girl that I am and dissect Slam Dunk as an anime. Despite the fact that the it's full of bishounen, it makes excellent viewing for guys who will probably watch it for the excitement of sports television with the added dimension of soap operatic drama. Watching an NBA game, you're probably going to know who scored how many points and who got fouled out how many times... but watching Shohoku take on another high school team, you get all this plus the chance to delve into the players' lives and what inspires them to just dazzle us on the court. Slam Dunk has excellent characterization that makes it likeable by all - you are drawn into the workings of each character's mind during the game that makes for a spell-binding, heart-stopping viewing experience. You're sure to have a favorite: whether it's the brash and cheeky Sakuragi, the silently lethal Rukawa, the extremely driven Akagi, the small and swift Miyagi, the ace sharp-shooter Mitsui or even the quiet, unassuming Kogure. (If not, there are dozens of guys from the other teams who are equally skilled and just as interesting.) Why, even the supporting characters are loveable - watch out for spunky manager Ayako (whose mere acknowledgement of Ryota turns the poor guy into jelly) and Sakuragi's pals who are always good for a funny courtside comment or two.

What I also like about Slam Dunk is the periodic appearances of commentator Dr. T, who jumps in to explain certain basketball terms and rules just so you don't get lost in all the b-ball jargon everyone's throwing around. Boy, is it educational! This, added to the characters' comments within the scenes, makes for a highly conducive learning environment even for the most basketball-ignorant viewer. Another plus for Slam Dunk is the presence of main character Sakuragi Hanamichi, self-proclaimed basketball genius who gets into basketball to impress the newfound love of his life, Akagi Haruko. Unfortunately for our hero, Haruko is little sister to Akagi Takenori, the tough-as-nails captain of the basketball team who doesn't take too kindly to Hanamichi's loud impudence. And much to his chagrin, Haruko is in love with his teammate Rukawa - a fellow freshman rookie whose cool moves on court and self-assured nonchalance he finds incredibly irritating. As the series progresses, we see the evolution of Hanamichi from a loud braggart with no skills to show for it whatsoever to a more mature player whose abilities in rebounding and running are forces to be reckoned with... as well as the changes in his relationships with the other characters as brought on by these developments.

The art style aims for a more realistic rendition of the characters. On the other hand, I have to admit that the animation's a bit choppy... I suppose it's hard to smoothly capture the athletic movements that this show involves, and the art is at times substandard. However, the SD scenes are a total riot! And the music sticks to your head for the longest time, and sets the mood for the high-tension games perfectly.

NOTE: Time in Slam Dunk is a lot like time in DBZ... three minutes may equal one episode. As warped as it is, it keeps you watching...

Don’t let the rather stiff-looking animation deter you. >>> by Shunichi Sakurai (01.14.2002)

Hanamichi Sakuragi of Shohoku High is the quintessential loser, having just been dumped by 50 girls back in junior high. He stumbles upon their school’s basketball team, led by captain Takenori “Gorilla” Akagi, and decides to give it a shot to reclaim his shattered pride and win the affections of Akagi’s sister Haruko. However, Haruko has her eyes on talented rookie Kaede Rukawa, whom Hanamichi hates. Can Sakuragi and the scrappy Shohoku team make it to the finals of the league and beat long-reigning champion Kainan High?

I was one of many who scorned this series’ Philippine release back in 1994, dismissing it as a dismal attempt at a sports anime. Who would’ve thought basketball and anime would mix?

Then I sat down these past few days and watched the thing.

“Slam Dunk” is great sports anime fare. Don’t let the rather stiff-looking animation deter you: the sketches are very consistent and the action gets intense. It takes a cue from Dragon Ball Z when illustrating action sequences though—the last three minutes of a crucial game may take the entire 22-minute episode. This is understandable for anime however. Sakuragi’s frequently deformed face—a longstanding joke—may turn off some people as well.

The key to most sports anime is characterization and “Slam Dunk” delivers well. Sakuragi is the bumbling, gloating “genius” who unexpectedly grows in ability; Rukawa is the lone wolf super-rookie; Mitsui is a sharpshooter salvaged from a troubled past; and team coach Mr. Anzai is the most mysterious figure on the team. Shohoku’s rivals are given equal emphasis too, most especially the Shoyo and Ryonan squads.

Bad points? The crowd’s cheering is pathetic. Early in the series some of the “moves” seem silly, and Sakuragi gets too egotistic for his own good. But these are all remedied by not taking the anime too seriously and enjoying this under-appreciated gem as it is. It’s a lot like the comedic “Kareshi Kanojo no Jijyo” in a way: it gets better the longer you stay with it. Overall this is an enjoyable title not to be missed.


  • I still don’t quite understand why they call Takenori Akagi the Shohoku “gorilla.” He doesn’t really look like one.
  • There were at least two “Slam Dunk” video games for the Super NES/Famicom. Keep in mind they weren’t anything like NBA Live; they were similar to the Yu Yu Hakusho cinematic fighting games.
  • The schools featured in “Slam Dunk” — Shohoku and Ryonan, most evidently — are real. Yes, this is a big reason why it was a big hit in Japan.
  • Hanamichi Sakuragi’s hair looks a lot like Kazuma Kawabara’s of “Yu Yu Hakusho".

Combined Rating: Art/Animation 7; Story 8; Characters 10; Sounds 9

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright 1997 - 2010. The Kraiders Otaku Fridge. All content, except screenshots, belong to the webmaster.