Slam Dunk 16

December 12, 2011

Takehiko Inoue – Viz – 2011 – 31 volumes

On one hand, I breezed through this volume pretty quickly, since the majority of the content is a game between two schools that are not Shohoku. I was a little surprised that the story spent so much time setting up the skills and personalities for characters that we will meet in the “future,” as if I should memorize all the members of both teams right now, since I’m going to have to watch them play Shohoku later.

Amazingly, Shohoku does play a game, but it lasts only one chapter, and Sakuragi doesn’t play in it. The tournament is a four-team tournament. By the end of the volume, one team is 0-2, two teams are 1-1, and the fourth team is 2-0. I suspect the rest of the series will be two more games for Shohoku, and it blows my mind that this will probably take all 15 of the remaining volumes.

In addition to the brief Shohoku game and the game between Kainan and Ryonan, there are a few chapters at the beginning of the volume covering a Shohoku scrimmage between upper and underclassman, and some shooting drills Gori forces on Sakuragi. The shooting drills are neat, because Sakuragi has resisted all the special training forced on him up to now, but the shooting drills are a pleasure to him compared to the running practice and other fundamental drills.

By the end of the volume, there are also hints that Shohoku’s biggest weakness is that they don’t play as a team. It’s true that all of them are definitely unique personalities that don’t work well together, and I’m curious to see how this weakness will be overcome. I just can’t see Sakuragi and Rukawa playing nice together.

On one final note, I couldn’t stop laughing at the first chapter’s title page, which was an illustration of “Slam Dunk” shaved into the back of Sakuragi’s head. That’s so early 90s it’s almost not funny, and I’m willing to bet that it wasn’t a trend that appeared anywhere outside America. The rest of the volume had a Boyz II Men accompaniment running through my head after that.

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