Simpsonized me!!

19 01 2008
Oh well… meet the Simpsonized me… Johnny…


26 10 2007

Hi guys, if you are familiar with this cartoon series I’m sure, kahit di ka mahilig sa basketball mahu-hook ka sa story nya… A while ago, papunta ko work I’ve seen another episode of this heart pounding basketball toon series… The episode wherein Shohoku fights team Kainan… The ending score is 88-90… They almost win… unfortunately, they ran out of time… I felt sad about that… Sakuragi cried a lot… sa kanya kasi yung last na bola… nagkamali sya ng pinasahan… he accidentally passed the ball to their opponent… 

— by Eugene Cheng

       Sports manga are often an overlooked genre, and there has not been an attempt yet to introduce this genre to the American comic market. The peoples of other countries, predominantly in the East, have long been following such stories.
  High school basketball? Who would have thought that manga dealing with high school basketball could be so riveting? Well, Inoue Takehiko proves that it indeed makes a great topic for storytelling with his popular SLAM DUNK series, which has given way to both a TV series, and a couple of theatrical movies. Just what makes this series so popular among basketball fans and non-basketball fans alike?
  One of the main reasons for the popularity of SLAM DUNK among basketball fans is the detail in his artwork. Inoue renders the basketball court and motion with surprising accuracy. It is obvious that Inoue is an avid fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA). But he does not lose those fans, who are not familiar with the rules of basketball either. He periodically supplies readers with explanations of certain terms or aspects of the game with a super-deformed version of himself (Dr. T). Of course, it helps to have familiarity with the game, but it is not a prerequisite for enjoying the series.

The Story

The main character of the story is Sakuragi Hanamichi, a first-year high school student who was unsuccessful in his endeavors to find agirlfriend in junior high school. Or more to the fact, he was dumped fifty times over the three years of junior high school. The fiftieth girl who rejected him admitted to him that she liked someone on the basketball team. So coming into Shohoku High School, Hanamichi had a bit of a bias against basketball. At the mere mention of the word, he would give a resounding head-butt to the unwitting speaker.
  But on the first day of school, he runs into a cute girl who asks our red-headed protagonist if he plays basketball. Sakuragi is rather tall for his age and is a fairly burly fellow because of the fights he and his friends tend to engage in. Naturally, Sakuragi falls head over heels for this girl, Haruko, and responds that he is indeed a “sportsman”. One thing leads to another, and Sakuragi ends up joining the basketball team.

The Starting Lineup

Sakuragi Hanamichi is a first year student. He plays the power forward position, is 188 centimeters tall, and weighs 83 kilograms. He eventually becomes a decent player after several issues. His most notable features are his red hair, his tenacity when playing, his ability to take massive amounts of punishment, and his rebounding skills. He often refers to himself as the “Rebound King”. He likes Akagi Haruko, but has not told her yet. He is at first disliked by Akagi Takenori, but eventually, he earns his grudging respect. Sakuragi has a penchant for giving people strange nicknames.
  Akagi Takenori is a third year student, the captain of the Shohoku Team, and Haruko’s older brother. He plays at the center position, is 197 centimeters tall, and weighs 90 kilograms. It is later revealed in the series that he, like Sakuragi, was a horrible basketball player at first. He has a flat-top haircut and looks a lot like New York Knicks co-captain Patrick Ewing. Sakuragi gives him the nickname of “Gori” which is short for “Gorilla”. Akagi is not too fond of this nickname, but it is appropriate because of his slam dunks, which the whole school refers to as the “Gorilla Dunk”. Akagi eventually tries to help Sakuragi become a better player and teaches him the skills he needs, despite their embarrassing first one-on-one game.
  Rukawa Kaede is another first year student. On most teams, it is unusual to have rookies on the starting roster, yet the current Shohoku team has two starting rookies. Rukawa was a superstar in junior high school and maintains his high level of play in high school. He plays at the small forward position, is 187 centimeters tall, and weighs 75 kilograms. His good looks and superior game play have made him the object of infatuation of many girls in the school, including Akagi Haruko. But Rukawa has no interest in women, and is always looking to elevate his game to the next level. When he plays, he is very selfish, and very rarely passes the ball. He has earned the nickname “Fox” from Sakuragi because of his sly attitude. He and Sakuragi become natural enemies.
  Miyagi Ryota is a second year student. He plays at the point guard position, is 168 centimeters tall, and weighs 59 kilograms. His dribbling and passing skills are excellent, but his height often becomes a disadvantage when playing against taller players. Nevertheless, Miyagi often steps up his game play up when this occurs. He is also somewhat of a delinquent, and gets into fights. He is in love with Ayako, the manager of the basketball team. At first, he and Sakuragi become enemies because of their natural antagonistic tendencies, but when they learn of each other’s unrequited love for another girl, they become fast friends. Sakuragi henceforth refers to Miyagi affectionately as “Ryo-san”.
  Mitsui Hisashi is a third year student who rejoins the team after a year of absence around the same time Miyagi joins. He plays at the shooting guard position, is 184 centimeters tall, and weighs 70 kilograms. In junior high school, he was declared Most Valuable Player because of his great shooting ability, in particular, for his ability to consistently make three point shots. Mitsui twisted his ankle in his first year and was forced to leave the team for a year. During that year he became quite a delinquent and joined a gang. All the while, he secretly wanted to return to the basketball team. With his appearance, Shohoku finally has the consistent back court scorer that it needed.

Give it a Shot

Even though I am an avid basketball fan, I found myself avoiding this series. Perhaps I was afraid of the injustices and inaccuracies that such a book might contain. Eventually, however, my curiosity got the better of me, and I picked up the first issue. Since then, I have been following the series with a near-fanatic fervor. Sakuragi’s antics amuse me, and I always look forward to seeing what the future brings. This is indeed quite an addicting series.
  SLAM DUNK has since ended its run in Shonen Jump, and Inoue Takehiko has moved on to start another basketball-related manga series.