It wouldn’t be fair of me to say that Slam Dunk is the best Sports Anime since it’s the only sports anime that I faithfully followed. I still have others on my watch list. But I’ve never gotten tired of watching it even after reruns after reruns. Released in the early ’90s, Slam Dunk was created to promote the appreciation of the Sport and it lived up to its purpose. As someone who was never an avid fan of Basketball, I enjoyed the excitement of the tournaments and appreciated the Basketball basics of Dr.T. Viewers learn through each episode with its Genius rookie protagonist, Hinamichi Sakuragi.
Note: Images are not mine and spoilers will be mentioned. Slam Dunk was written and Illustrated by Takehiko Inoue.
The Anime was fairly loyal to the Manga, except it disappointed fans as it never showed us the Inter-High Nationals Tournament and Ending. It’s not as popular now compared before, but Slam Dunk is well kept in the hearts of those who were able to follow the series. There are no supernatural beings and fantastical powers, only skillful moves which are usually on the Basketball court. Well, maybe except for Sakuragi’s really hard head, exceptional stamina, and super hun-hun defense move.
Whether you love Basketball or not, I would recommend this anime. If you don’t mind the classic look of old Anime, the drawing style of Slam Dunk is quite unique. The story is really good and the character developments are satisfying.
Slam Dunk first introduces us to our main lead and star, Hanamichi Sakuragi. A freshman at Shohoku public High School. A hopeless romantic who lost his last love interest (also others before that) to a Basketball player. He despised Basketball. Though he is tall, strong, and has a strong presence, he is far from the perfect leading man as Sakuragi is an overconfident delinquent with low grades and a hot temper. He enters High School with his gang and a broken heart that was treaded by 50 rejections. I can’t imagine.
But Sakuragi is hopeless and will do anything for love. He then meets the kindhearted Haruko Akagi who becomes his reason to join the Basketball Team. Haruko was the first to acknowledge Sakuragi’s potential as a Basketball player and Sakuragi did his very best not to disappoint her. As someone who resolved any conflict through fighting, it was first difficult for Sakuragi to control his temper, actions, and emotions in the court. But the special thing about our protagonist is that he is a very fast learner and in less than 4 months he has become an essential part of the Shohoku Team in winning the Inter-High Basketball Tournament.
He always called himself the genius Basketball man and people laughed at him, but they eventually acknowledge it. The great thing about Sakuragi is that he is almost never fazed by people’s negative opinions about him. He was the laughing stock Foul King who became the Rebound King that owned the court. Slam Dunk highlights Sakuragi learning about Basketball and getting great at it. He literally learned about the sport from scratch and as a viewer you get to learn with him. The show gives you mini trivia and facts to help you understand whats going on. You feel like a viewer of an actual Basketball game in the series. You laugh and facepalm at Sakuragi’s antics, and also feel proud and excited when he successfully makes a shot, gets the rebound, and when he makes that high jump to block the enemy from scoring.
Slam Dunk is loved by its fans not just because its about basketball. It has a good story as it is very comedic and romantic as well. Supporting Characters also have their own personalities and inspirational backstories like the story of middle school MVP turned delinquent Hisashi Mitsui. Slam Dunk also shows us the stories of its other talented players: the hopelessly in love talented point guard Ryota Miyagi, the super rookie, and uber-popular Kaede Rukawa, determined sunglasses man Kiminobu Kogure, and Haruko’s gorilla-like brother strict Captain Takenori Akagi.
Slam Dunk is also about witnessing Kogure, Akagi, and Mitsui realizing their dream in their final year of High School. Since Middle School, they have always wanted to join the Nationals of the Japan Inter-High School Basketball Tournament. Entering their last year, they thought it would never happen until freshmen Sakuragi and Rukawa joined the team. Kogure, Akagi, and Mitsui give their all in Slam Dunk which also contributes to Shohoku’s first success in many years.
I promise you that Slam Dunk is full of light-hearted laughs and serious moments as well. You will also learn to like and respect the opponents of the Shohoku Team. The other schools in their district who were consistently top at tournaments like Ryonan, Kainan, and Shoyo have strong basketball players who were amazed by Shohoku’s strong lineup.
Slam Dunk is easy to follow with 31 Volumes of the Manga, 101 episodes of the Anime, and 4 OVAs. The ending is only seen in the Manga. Shohoku won the final game against Japan’s best Sannoh High with Sakuragi and Rukawa’s epic and rare teamwork during the last seconds. This was the part that fans really wanted to see in the anime. It was the first and only time Rukawa and Sakuragi ever did a high five together in the whole story. It makes you wonder how strong Shohoku would have been if Rukawa and Sakuragi were friends from the beginning. Fans in You Tube have made videos and sketches of this scene from the Manga.
But the end is a bit sad for Sakuragi because during that final game Sakuragi crashed to a table and caused him a spine injury. It’s an injury that may lead him to stop playing Basketball for a very long time. It’s very sad knowing how great Sakuragi has become and he has to suddenly stop. He spends his time in a rehab center for his injury at the ending. To the fan’s delight Haruko chooses to wait for Sakuragi which indicates that she finally returns his feelings and decides to give up on Rukawa, who never noticed her and is focused on becoming Japan’s no.1 Basketball player. It’s both a sad and happy ending for our dear protagonist, Hanamichi Sakuragi
Slam Dunk (nd) Wikipedia.org
Slam Dunk Wiki Fandom (nd) Slamdunk.fandom.com
Slam Dunk Manga mangelon.com