REAL Vol. #04 (Mania.com)

By:Matthew Alexander
Review Date: Thursday, July 09, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Togawa may have come to terms with his disability, but it wasn’t always that way.  The reliving of his past is painful and powerful, well-written stuff.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Takehiko Inoue
Translation: John Werry
Adaptation: John Werry

What They Say
A motorcycle accident, bone cancer, a speeding truck crashing into a boy on a stolen bicycle--tragic, life-changing events turn the worlds of three young men upside down. Three very different personalities have only one thing in common--their passion for basketball. Critically acclaimed, award-winning manga artist Takehiko Inoue doesn't pull any punches in this stunning portrayal of people struggling with serious life issues. Masterfully combining rich character development with beautifully detailed line art, Inoue, the creator of mega-hit masterpieces Slam Dunk and Vagabond, brings the medium of manga to a completely new level of storytelling.

Kiyoharu Togawa is selected to compete for a coveted spot on Japan's National Wheelchair Basketball Team. But with the prospects of this upcoming challenge weighing heavy on his mind, he reflects upon the demons of his past--his battle with cancer and rehabilitation as well as his bitter conflicts with his father. Togawa's passion for his sport is just about the only thing in life that can give him the strength to pull through.

The Review!
Togawa has finally been accepted back to his old basketball team, the Tigers.  He works his teammates relentlessly in practice and it finally shows as they begin to win some games.  It has been a long time since the team has won at all, much less multiple games in a row.  Nonetheless, will winning make the hard work worth it for the whole team, or will they revert to whining little punks?

Nomiya is still trying to find his role in society.  Things continue to go poorly for the big guy until he gets a chance to act in a live action play for kids.  The actor needs to be big, athletic, and energetic, all perfectly describing Nomiya’s character.  Even better, Nomiya loves it.  Only problem he is fired on the first day of work.  Seems the producer wasn’t impressed by Nomiya’s portrayal of the bad guy beating all the heroes to a pulp.  I found it hilarious, but I guess it would upset little kids.

Most of this volume examines Togawa’s past.  It seems he was quite the track stud in high school before his leg blew out from bone cancer.  From here, the story examines how hard it is for someone to accept a disability, even more difficult when your family can’t deal with it.  Togawa’s mother has been dead for a while, and his father makes it easy for Togawa to withdraw from school and society.

Luckily, Azumi always tries to visit Togawa and he eventually meets a guy that helps him put life in perspective.  Hitoshi is a cheery outgoing guy, even though he has a disease that will cause his body to deteriorate until he dies.  Even though he will probably die by 20, he feels there is no reason to dwell on something you can’t stop.  He is right, and his attitude really helps Togawa for the first time since he became disabled.  However, it is his introduction to a guy named Tora that truly helps Togawa return to life.

Tora is a big guy, a tattoo artist, and a wheelchair basketball athlete.  He puts Togawa in his first sports chair and introduces him to a bunch of competitive guys that show him he can still be an athlete.  All this is really well done by the author, and VIZ has done a great job with this release.  The book is oversized and it has color pages in the front and later in the book.  With all those things, I just can’t say enough good things about this series.

Highly recommended.



Mania Grade: A+
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 12.99
Pages: 216
ISBN: 978-1421519920
Size: A5
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: REAL