Hanamichi Sakuragi, infamous for this temper, massive height, and fire-red hair, enrolls in Shohoku High, hoping to finally get a girlfriend and break his record of being rejected 50 consecutive times in middle school. His notoriety precedes him, however, leading to him being avoided by most students. Soon, after certain events, Hanamichi is left with two unwavering thoughts: "I hate basketball," and "I desperately need a girlfriend."
One day, a girl named Haruko Akagi approaches him without any knowledge of his troublemaking and asks him if he likes basketball. Hanamichi immediately falls head over heels in love with her, blurting out a fervent affirmative. She then leads him to the gymnasium, where she asks him if he can do a slam dunk. In an attempt to impress Haruko, he makes the leap, but overshoots, instead slamming his head straight into the blackboard. When Haruko informs the basketball team's captain of Hanamichi's near-inhuman physical capabilities, he slowly finds himself drawn into the camaraderie and competition of the sport he had previously held resentment for.
#1: "Kimi ga Suki da to Sakebitai" by BAAD (eps 1-61) #2: "Zettai ni Daremo" by ZYYG (eps 62-101)
#1: "Anata Dake Mitsumete'ru (あなただけ見つめてる)" by Ooguro Maki (eps 1-24) #2: "Sekai ga Owaru Made Wa (世界が終るまでは...)" by WANDS (eps 25-49) #3: "Kirameku Toki ni Torawarete (煌めく瞬間に捕らわれて)" by MANISH (eps 50-81) #4: "My Friend (マイフレンド)" by Zard (eps 82-101)
You know that feeling when you don't really want to watch something but when you start doing it, amazingly, you have lots of fun? Well I do because that is what Slam Dunk is doing to me. It is about this basketball team in Shohoku highschool and its main character, Sakuragi, who tries to complete himself as a basketball player and gain the love of a girl, named Haruko. Sounds cheesy but, believe me, it is nothing you have experienced before.
Now, from the first few episodes, you can obviously see that this anime, which received huge acclaim at its time, has a clear goal to
spread the popularity of basketball in a country where basketball was almost non existent. For true fans of this game, who are hoping to see some great moves in this series, a disappointment awaits. The problem is that Japanese studio emphasized areas of basketball which aren't necessarily the most important and beautiful. For those true fans, it would be like watching a "learn-how-to-read" video when you're 20 years old. From this side, the anime looks really outdated.
However, what amazed me the most, was that the jokes were not outdated at all. If you don't like the basketball scenes, watch it as a comedy and, trust me, you won't be disappointed. Through time, you get used to the characters and even start enjoy their stories. We've all movies about American high school teams who MADE it. This was something new for me and I did not give up on it. Love, basketball, friendship, competition and lots of laughs - this is what you can expect (and should receive) from Slam Dunk.
I can say this easily: there will be basketball fans who will hate Slam Dunk and there will be non-basketball fans who will love this anime. Just give it a try and if you'll have fun a few times - it was already worth it.
Slam Dunk is one of those classics of sports anime. You always hear about it and wonder if it actually is the best thing since sliced bread. Well, it isn't. But it is funny and entertaining and worthwhile if you have the patience for it.
Imagine GTO in high school and determined to learn how to play basketball to get closer to the girl he has a crush on -- tah-dah, Slam Dunk! The story has the expected sort of "learn a skill, show a skill" repetitive story line common to a lot of sports and shounen animes, but it's punched up
by a little delinquency, a little reformation, and a tiny bit of one-sided romance. The one real downside to the story is the occasional trips into a DBZ/Naruto-esque timefreeze: sometimes one basketball game takes, like, 3 episodes and you wonder how it's possible that only 2 minutes anime-time have gone by in the last 20 real-time. ;)
The art is a little rough sometimes, kind of typical for the time period. There's a lot of panning across stills and repetitive looks at the same image. It can be a little annoying, but I kept on reminding myself when it was made (1993-1996!) and I got over it. The one thing that I noticed the most was probably the fact that the key on their court looks different from a real key in a NBA or Olympic court, but I decided to stop thinking about it a few episodes in.
The character of the main character is what makes the whole thing entertaining, I think. He is brash, tactless, rough and stupid -- and, for some odd reason, really funny. Even when he gets on my nerves, he does something random and ridiculous and retarded, and it just ends up cracking me up. He's always calling himself a genius (when he doesn't know how to do anything) and laughing in this obnoxious, cocky manner and making awful mistakes, but he's somehow loveable anyway and you end up rooting for him because he's just that charismatic. The thing that's really nice about him is just how flawed he is... he's got natural athleticism, but he's far from being a natural on the basketball court and he's loyal, strong, and dedicated, but he's also impatient and hot-tempered and loud. And he's really nicely backed up by a team of interesting, diverse guys who each (eventually) get their time in the limelight and each have their own personal struggles to overcome while striving to work together as a team.
Overall, I enjoyed watching Slam Dunk -- despite the really slow pacing of some of the actual games. It's funny in that rough, delinquent way that will be familiar to people who've seen Hajime no Ippo and Great Teacher Onizuka. If you're an American basketball-purist, you might have some issues with the show, but if you're just looking for a fun, classic shounen about some rough-and-tumble guys... you've found what you're looking for.
This anime has almost everything. Action, comedy, tragedy, romantic tensions, manly moments, etc. The cast is pretty huge and when possible, each character or group gets their chance to shine. A great percentage of the characters each contribute something to the advancement of the story and/or get their moment in the sun so. It doesn’t have to be Sakuragi, or the rest of the Shohoku team. Even Sakuragi’s gang gets their chance to do something every now and then.
But what really touches me about this story is how strong the relationships develop. Especially the loyalty of Sakuragi’s gang and how far they go in
their support that he gets to be part of the basketball team. Even though Sakuragi and his friends may not have the best brains, they make up for it with their hearts and this anime has a big amount of it. I know a lot of people are put off by the concept of sports anime, but I think people need to give this one a chance. The story moves at a very moderate pace and I found the characters to be very relatable and realistically portrays the culture of high school sports in Japan.
Even though Sakuragi starts basketball to impress a girl, it is fun to see how he progresses and you really start to cheer for him like he was your friend that started something. Even though he was gifted with the perfect genetics for the sport, he still has to learn from the beginning and some of his struggles are just juvenile to those that at least know the basics of basketball, but you really feel his passion at the right moments and hope that he lives up to his fullest potential.
Then you get to see the other characters not just on Shokou, but on the other team as well and how they also have their dreams and work just as hard to make them come true. There are no bad guys and everybody is relatable in their own way and each have something to prove.
Earlier I mentioned the realistic aspects of Japanese school sports culture. In Japan, many high schools are known for their sports team and some kids are recruited to a school based on their athletic ability. This is most especially true in baseball where the Koushien, the high school world series, is a very big deal in Japan. I liked how they touched this from the coach of Ryonan High School. It is true that some students join a school to join a team that is coached by this particular person and I really like how they touch that.
I really like the character design in this. Though it is a little difficult to transition from how Inoue-sensei did it in the manga, the anime works in its own that it just has this artistic distinction that still carries on today. I found the design to be very diverse and expresses many atmospheres within the story and between the characters. It can be very realistic looking, or very cartoony. Some characters have the generic anime design like Haruko, or look more realistic like her brother, nick named Gori, Gorilla for short.
In a way, Sendo’s design in the anime kind of bothered me. He didn’t really look like a high school student by making his eyes more rectangular. In the original manga, his eyes were more circular and I thought the design there he looked more appropriately like a teenager and I will sort of address this issue coming across as older as he looks a bit later. However, the anime addresses at times about characters who look older than they look at times like Maki and at times Akagi.
I really like how the anatomy of the players accurately reflect what a basketball player looks like. A slim-muscular like build meant for speed and high cardio. Of course naturally bigger players play center and very early, it shows that a certain percentage of centers and taller players like Shaq, Dwight Howard, and Wilt Chamberlain aren’t the best at free throws.
The basketball games may bring the intensity of lets say a 1990s NBA game, but it is pretty fun to watch and in certain moments, the anime will explain the fundamentals of basketball for people who have no familiarity with the sport. At least the games are not anything like the games in Prince of Tennis where their abilities equate to killing the dinosaurs. So don’t expect any silly shit like that. Inoue-sensei referenced a lot of NBA pictures from magazines and the form that the characters show in their lay ups and slam dunks is just at that high level.
Rukawa feels like Michael Jordan to me while Sakuragi is a lot like Rodman and Miyagi is like Mogsuy Bouggues.
But I heard that some time ago, Inoue-sensei got in trouble for referencing very specific pictures and was in some copyright dispute over that which I think is stupid. Anybody who does art knows that artists reference al the time.
The resolution and contrast will look a little grainy and rough, but I don’t mind it. I think it suits the delinquent and manliness of this series very well as opposed to looking it as outdated.
The first opening theme alone, Kimi Ga Suki Da To Sakebitai just qualifies for a 10/10 in the sound department. It just brings this energy and intensity that accurately reflects the nature of the series about wanting to impress a girl and also doing your best. You can feel you’re one with the flow with the drum beats and the guitar licks. It’s a song we can all relate to. I feel if people make a list of top anime songs and does not list Kimi Ga Suki da to Sakebitai, they are not a true anime fan (and the only other songs I can say this for are Pegasus Fantasy from Saint Seiya and Heart of the Sword from Rurouni Kenshin). It is just so wonderful to listen to.
Whenever you watch a high school basketball game in Japan, you are most likely to hear this song in the opening ceremony. Most times I have went to one, I would always hear this song and it shows how much Slam Dunk has had on basketball in Japan. The other theme songs also bring the same qualities that reflect the nature of the series.
Another reason for my 10/10 is just for Midorikawa Hikaru alone as the voice of Rukawa. He’s one of the best seiyuus of all time for crying out loud. He is very good at playing all kinds of characters from the enthusiastic Michael from Marmalade Boy, the romantic Tamahome from Fushigi Yuugi, the dark killer of Heero Yuy from Gundam Wing, and this time the anti-social Rukawa. He can play just about anybody. Sakuragi is played by another top name from the 90s, Kusao Takashi, the voice of Trunks from Dragon Ball Z. His voice is really more rough and scratchy. Even though as Future Trunks he sounded aggressive, he still had something of a soft voice. Along with the rough and scratchniess, at times it is appropriately comedic. In a way, it works in a well-rounded sense when necessary.
Another seiyuu I happened to enjoy was the voice of Tanaka Hideyuki as Kogure, or Megane-kun to Sakuragi. In case you don’t know, he’s the Japanese voice of Otacon and Huey from Metal Gear Solid. The design of the character has a physicality and look just like the Emmerich’s and I thought the voice just fit perfectly and I feel it was this performance paved the way for such a legendary role.
As previously stated, I sort of had an issue with Sendo coming across feeling older than a teenager, I feel that also had to do with Ohtsuka Hochuu, the voice of Jiraiya from Naruto as his seiyuu. His voice is really easy to recognize if you are familiar with that particular role, but I guess his jokey and relaxed nature does bring a youthfulness to it in some ways. Sendo does have a sense of humor and I feel in some ways, his voice does reflect that. Then again, it doesn’t go into the extremes like in his performance as Chibodee in G Gundam where he calls Domon Japanese and Saisaishi Chinese and I just like the way he pronunciates it. The cast and music just go on and on and I feel for music lovers and seiyuu buffs, that alone makes Slam Dunk worth watching.
Well, I know a good number of people on the internet are not fond of sports anime, but there is a reason why it has appeal, at least in Japan. Joining a sports club while still a student is really a big deal while it really isn’t too much of a big deal in America where us American tend to feel that sports if for douche bag jocks or whatever. Japanese schools, especially at the jr high level, encourage it more often because they feel it prepares people for society in some ways such as learning about team work, understanding senpai/kouhai relations, having a goal and working for it, having fun and hard work. To Japanese people, seeing that, they can relate to their own youth or what is going on in their lives if they are still students.
To me, the opening song was just enough and it brought me back to the days of the 90s and how I loved the players of that era.
But when watching, you will see Sakuragi grow. At times you will laugh at his stupidity and at times you will feel sorry for him. The series shows every aspect of what he goes through and you will see him grow. You will also see how his relationships with his teammates grow. He may be full of himself, but when the going gets tough, he will work hard and pull through. It’s an anime that shows that everybody has the potential at something. Some may be natural, some may need to work harder than others, but when you put your mind to it, all things are possible.
Anyway, my big issue was that it ends where it only had 2 games left from the manga. The anime already introduced characters and yet it ends without solving those issues. It is as big as a travesty as the jinchu arc from Rurouni Kenshin not being animated. But the anime ending works in a way where you see Sakuragi grow individually but the manga shows how Sakuragi develops to the point on why the team needs him. I say after watching the anime, read the remaining manga.
Slam Dunk is considered a pioneer of sports anime. All from its witty jokes to its inspiring speeches, it’s a masterpiece from the 90s. It teaches many valuable morals of life such as establishing strong bonds with each other, and to never give up. It’s an anime that’s been a part of my childhood, and I knew from its first episode that it would be hilarious.
The plot was centered on our self-centered protagonist Sakuragi Hanamichi, a 189cm tall, 16 year old, delinquent who hates basketball. And in order to impress a girl, he attempts to play the sport, fails miserably at it, and even
managed to pants the opponent who was the captain of the basketball team as well as the girl’s older brother. But even after all that, he still somehow managed to get on the basketball team.
The anime itself is mainly set in the Shohoku High School. It’s the home to the Shohoku basketball team, a team that isn’t considered a threat in the Kanagawa prefecture of Japan. Mainly due to its lack of skilled players, the team is really a one man team, consisting of the team captain Akagi Takenori, or Gorilla as Sakuragi likes to call him. But with the new year rolling in several new players joined the team including the superstar first year Rukawa Kaede, and our protagonist the self-proclaimed genius Sakuragi Hanamichi. The entire story pretty much revolves around the idea of making it to the nationals, since it’s been the dream of the 3rd years on the team.
Now that I mention it, dreams, and goals of all the characters really play a huge role in the anime. It’s been the major reason for a lot of the determination, passion, and character development in the show. I love this aspect because I find it relatable since in real life we all have dreams of our own, and it inspires us to work hard to achieve them. It’s also this aspect of the show that makes it one of the best slices of life animes ever.
The anime focuses in on a huge cast of characters, not only the Shohoku basketball team but also players from other teams as well as Sakuragi’s troupe of nutjobs. Now having a large cast of characters can be a definite problem if not done right, but Slam Dunk takes its characters and uses them to its full potential. All the characters possess intricate, diverse, and likeable personalities. But the most important reason I love this anime was the immense amount of character development the characters portrayed. When the Sakuragi first debuted, I can’t say I enjoyed his character a lot because he seemed like a really arrogant, and selfish person, but by the end of the anime, he learned how to rely on his teammates, and treat them with respect, and because of that he became one of my all-time favorite characters in anime.
Something I realized after doing some research was that the characters in the anime were actually based on real life basketball players in the 90s. Which is really cool because if you know basketball players, and watch the anime, you'll begin to figure out which character is which player in real life.
Now for the biggest gripe people would probably have about this anime, I’m not sure about others, but I tend to hate outdated art styles, and if I hadn’t seen it when I was younger I probably would’ve never watched the show. The show was made in the mid-90s, so it’s typical 90’s art style, if you’ve watched other shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion you would probably be familiar with it. It’s usually a bit rugged, and rough since the art was hand drawn. And the character designs aren’t what we’re used to today, they actually look more lifelike. But it turned out to be not as much of a problem as it seems when I rewatched it, because you get used to the art after a couple of episodes. But if you seriously have major problems with watching animes with old art this might be a problem for you.
This show has the most amazing OP and EDs ever, they're old school Japanese pop music. They are absolutely excellent, they go along with the show so well, and complements the feel of sports. I've read some of the other Slam Dunk reviews and I think they deserve a lot more recognition that they're given. The BGM were pretty compatible with the anime, I'd really like to comment more about it but to be honest there wasn't much of it. Compared to modern sports animes Slam Dunk pretty much has a very little amount of BGM, but you'd hardly notice it since it has tons of sound effects.
Overall though, Slam Dunk is amazing, no matter if you're watching it back in the 90s or right now. The art style might be a bit rusty but the amazing story and characters definitely make up for it. And if the thought of watching a sports anime turns you off, then watch it for the comedy, I'm sure you'd enjoy it anyways. I'd throughly enjoyed re watching the series recently and it seems just as amazing as it was 10 years ago, it's truly a masterpiece, a masterpiece that inspires people for decades to go out and play some basketball.