Slam Dunk 17

April 19, 2012

Takehiko Inoue – Viz – 2011 – 31 volumes

Ahhh… again, I’m not sure why I love this series so much. Inoue certainly knows how to draw addictive action, because I love all three of the series that are currently running in the US, and I started all of them ready to hate them or completely uninterested. I don’t like basketball at all, but man, I really have to know if Shohoku can do it.

This volume contains the dreaded rival game, where we continue to watch Ryonan and Kainan play in order to see who will play Shohoku next. I hate when sports manga do this, because they usually make an effort to make me care about the characters and what they can do, and I just can’t bring myself to remember them or their skills, or who they’d be matched up against on the hero team. I know they will simply be beaten later. Eyeshield 21 is also majorly guilty of this, though the over-the-top characters in that series made it easier to remember that the cowboy was the quarterback, or whatever.

Having said that, the rival game was still pretty fun to read. I may not have cared about any of the characters, or bothered to commit their strengths to memory, but I did flip every page waiting to see if the basket would go in, whether the team would score before the time would run out, what happens after a technical foul, et cetera. That the game was a complete thrill really is a testament to how good Takehiko Inoue is.

After the game, there’s a rather serious plot involving Coach Anzai. I’ve wondered about him, since he’s clearly a respected figure, but he has so little input in the games themselves. What happens here also leads to a little flashback about Sakuragi, which was also much appreciated.

Afterwards, the Kainan/Takezato game is covered in a few pages, and then the Ryonan/Shohoku game gets under way. Surprisingly, there’s only two chapters of actual gameplay, and in those two chapters, I think only two baskets are scored. But they’re two important baskets. And it doesn’t feel like so little game was covered. The story does a good job of getting you seriously pumped, and I still can’t get enough of Sakuragi’s hilarious boasts. I suspect this game will go on for a few volumes at least. By necessity. The way the bracket is laid out, there’s only one more game to play after this for the championship, and I can’t imagine they play another bracket after that. So I suspect these two games will probably take up most of the rest of the 14 volumes, with serious breaks for training, and maybe one or two small games tucked in somewhere for good measure. So buckle up, because this game is going to be a wild ride.

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