Posted on | May 4, 2011 | No Comments
Slam Dunk is one of the most beloved of sports anime titles and the manga is often regarded as a main influence on the increased interest in basketball among the Japanese during the period of its release. Despite being billed as a sports anime, Slam Dunk‘s greatest strength lies not in its basketball action but in its characters, who bring a lot of emotional depth to the story and some hilarious elements to engage the audience.
Like a lot of shounen series, Slam Dunk doesn’t stray too far from the basic starting template of an underdog who gains significant growth in strength through the story. The main character Sakuragi Hanamichi is introduced as a brash, young teenager with a romantic failure of a record of having been rejected 50 times. He then falls for Akagi Haruko, who unfortunately has a crush on Rukawa Kaede, already a well-known ace in basketball despite being a freshman. With hopes of winning Haruko’s heart, Sakuragi joins the Shohoku basketball team, eventually develops a genuine interest in the sport and becomes one of the main players who will lead Shohoku to the Nationals.
As mentioned earlier, Slam Dunk has excellent focus on its characters despite sporting a relatively large cast. Many of the characters are fleshed out with explorations of their relationships (mostly friendships), motivations and attitudes towards basketball. Although they are basketball players, the universal nature of their struggles makes them very human and easy to empathize with. In a way, the sport and matches serve as a canvas for character development rather than be the centerpiece of the story itself. Sakuragi, in particular, is one character whose growth in ability parallels his maturation as a person and as a basketball player.
In terms of the technical aspects, the anime doesn’t quite live up to the quality of its narrative. The style is notably dated with a lot of panning across still frames and repeated shots. Attempts to stretch the story to fit the time-frame of an episode are also quite obvious sometimes with the over-usage of panning and repeated scenes. The choice of sound effects can be a bit jarring in some places but the songs themselves are well-utilized in the anime. That said, the technical flaws don’t critically affect the entertainment value of the anime, especially with the support of an excellent seiyuu cast, and the basketball matches are choreographed well enough that they remain pretty exciting.
Overall, Slam Dunk is one series to catch with its great combination of comedy, drama and action.
Final rating: 8.0/10