Slam Dunk 3

March 15, 2009

This is one of the kings of Shounen Jump manga.  I believe it’s still probably around 3rd most popular of all time sales-wise and popularity-wise.  This is its second chance in English, after Raijin folded all those years ago, and I’m curious as to what makes this better than any other sports manga ever (with the possible exception of Mitsuru Adachi, who is king of baseball manga).  On another random note, it’s hard to believe that this is drawn by the same person who does Vagabond.  I’m always impressed by artists who have the ability to draw stories for different audiences like that.

It’s a pretty standard setup, with a punkish kid joining the sports team to impress a girl, but I wonder if it was standard at the time or if other series have cribbed from this one since.  For instance, apparently they have to reach the finals by the end of the year, presumably so that the graduating seniors have a shot at it.  I only read one other sports manga currently, but Eyeshield 21 also uses the very same threat throughout the series.

Sakuragi is a really interesting main character, and a reasonably funny guy.  Not having read the first two volumes, there’s a few pieces I’m filling in that I’m not quite sure of.  Did the captain of the basketball team let him win during their 1-on-1, for instance?  He seems to be bragging about it quite a bit in this volume, but also can’t do a layup and seems generally clueless when it comes to playing basketball.  The captain seems to appreciate his attitude as far as being excited about basketbal goes, which is nice.

Now, Sakuragi seems to have joined the team to impress the captain’s sister, who is in love with the team’s star player.  She’s quite nice to him, and it’s a bit unusual to see the girl the hero wants to impress giving him the time of day so early on.  If the trend in sports manga is to be believed, she may just drop off the face of the earth after a few volumes though.

This volume was dedicated to showing how much Sakuragi practices to keep up with the rest of the team, has him slowly mastering the layup technique, and then leads into their exhibition game with a local rival.  Pretty standard sports manga stuff, but again, Sakuragi’s pretty entertaining, so it’s fun to read about whatever it is that he’s doing.

Do I feel like going back for the early volumes?  Well, not really, but I probably would if I wasn’t reading Eyeshield 21.  I may read a volume or two after this though, just to see what the games are like.  I’m sure I’ll easily be won over if I read too many more volumes, but that’s just par for the course for any really good Jump series.

12 Responses to “Slam Dunk 3”


  1. […] (Read About Comics) Scott VonSchilling on Scott Pilgrim (The Anime Almanac) Connie on vol. 3 of Slam Dunk (Slightly Biased Manga) Lori Henderson on vol. 2 of Tactics (Comics Village) Patricia Beard on vol. […]

  2. Estara Says:

    The sister remains part of the series, but basketball itself does take over more. Especially the important games.

  3. Connie Says:

    Yeah, I kind of imagine the important games taking up a couple volumes each at the end of the series. I think I imagined it striking a balance between serious focus on the sport, like in Prince of Tennis, and sort of letting the characters comically run amok, like in Eyeshield 21. I prefer the latter, but I can see a balance working quite nicely.

    Wow, I didn’t realize it was so long, actually, I was thinking it was more like 17 volumes.

  4. Pirkaf Says:

    I got my hands on the december issue of Shonen Jump and of all the manga I’ve read there I liked this the most (big surprise). Especially the art was very enjoyable. For some shonen jump series, the bigger format really doesn’t look good because the art is not that detailed. I like Naruto or Bleach more in a book format.

  5. Connie Says:

    Ooh, that’s interesting, I didn’t know it ran in Shonen Jump. What else is in there currently? I can see that being a really good way to get kids to read Slam Dunk, even if they are mostly buying the magazine for Naruto.

    I’m always surprised by how larger and smaller formats can affect artwork so drastically, because it’s not something I really think about. As stylish as the art can be in Bleach, I can see it having issues at a larger size since, as you say, there isn’t a lot of detail and the style is more in the use of blacks and stuff like that. I imagine One Piece looking good larger, though.

  6. Pirkaf Says:

    Let’s see.. there’s Naruto, Yu Yu Hakusho, One Piece, Bobobo-bo whatever…, Slam Dunk, Bleach and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and that’s it. Slam Dunk really looks the best of them and I’m afraid I’m also used to the smaller format of One Piece.
    I also have one issue of Kodansha’s Shonen Weekly magazine that runs some interesting series like Tsubasa, Hajime no Ippo or Negima (there’s also the very last chapter of School Rumble) but I really can’t read it in japanese.. ;-)

  7. Connie Says:

    Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about not picking up Shonen Jump, then. I think I would only really enjoy One Piece and Slam Dunk, and I’ve already read far forward in One Piece and I’d just as soon follow Slam Dunk in graphic novels. I am surprised that Yu Yu Hakusho still runs in that magazine, though. I didn’t realize it was so popular. I’m also surprised the format has changed so little over the years, because Bobobo and Slam Dunk were the only ones that weren’t in the first issue.

    I wish Del Rey could do a compilation magazine in English that would have a few Shonen Weekly series in it. There’s plenty of really, really great series in that magazine to choose from. Maybe the appeal isn’t as wide as Shonen Jump series, though.

    I get Princess Gold magazine, even though I can’t read Japanese, but it doesn’t come out that often, so I’m not spending that much money on it. It has Apothecarius Argentum in it regularly, and had Crown until it ended last summer, and has From Eroica With Love every once in awhile. I like the look of some of the short stories and a couple of the other regular features too, though.

  8. Ricardo Says:

    Hey, thanks for the review Connie.
    By any chance, did the volume had color pages?
    I ask this because in volume 1 there were several color pages, volume 2 didn´t had any, but that´s because there were not any color pages to be included, so I was wondering if any of the following chapter had color pages?
    Chapter 20 Commoner´s Shot (This chapter should be fully colored)
    Chapter 26 Secret Weapon (The first 4 pages should be colored)

    Thanks in advance :3

  9. Connie Says:

    Hm, I know Commoner’s Shot definitely didn’t have any, because I remember thinking it was unusual that that chapter had been originally colored all the way through. And… no, Secret Weapon’s pages are also in black and white. Bummer. Viz has been doing more and more color pages lately too, it’s a shame they aren’t going to be carried all the way through this series.

  10. Pirkaf Says:

    Oh, I thought you can read japanese as you mentioned reading some original manga before.. ;-)

    That Shonen Weekly magazine sure is amazing.. so many pages and so many series.. I was surprised about the bad quality of paper, though.. it’s similar to CMX manga.. ;-)) no, it’s worse, it really is just for reading and then throwing away.. and then buying tankobons with favourite series.. ^_^

  11. Ricardo Says:

    Damn them…
    I mean, sure, its nice to see they bringin Slam Dunk to the U.S. again, but I think is kind of a cheap strategy to make the first volume come with color pages and the following volumes not in color pages…

    Screw them, I will wait for the Spanish release of the kanzenban edition of Slam Dunk…

    Thanks for the info :3

  12. Connie Says:

    Well, I do what I can with it. Princess Gold has the added benefit of furigana with the kanji, so I like to use it to teach myself and do what I can. I sort of go through and struggle with spot reading, but I’m sort of a poor student, unfortunately. I do the same thing with my Japanese volumes of Tsubasa, too. I’m sort of accumulating a collection of shoujo manga in Japanese, and while I try to do what I can with those too, in some cases it’s a lot more fun to go through and just look at the pictures without the dialogue.

    But yeah, I get a big kick out of those Japanese anthologies. I love the paper that changes color as you go through. I was totally blown away by the size when I saw a random old issue of Shounen Jump for the first time. They are described as phonebooks, but I really couldn’t imagine a weekly comic magazine like that being literally as thick as one. The economy is impressive too, where you pay the equivalent of three or four dollars for that much content, and dispose of it when you’re done.


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