Sakuragi gets closer to really being a bastketball man as he's able to finally get on the court and try to prove himself.
What They Say
Hanamichi Sakuragi, an entering Shohoku high school freshman holds a record for being rejected by 50 girls during middle school. His nearly 2 meters height and bright red hair causes most students to write him off as a delinquent. One day, a girl named Haruko Akagi approaches Hanamichi without any fear. When she asks Hanamichi: "do you like basketball?" Hanamichi falls head over heels for the girl of his dreams. Without missing a beat, Hanamichi tells her he loves basketball, and the two head to the gymnasium where Hanamichi learns about the slam dunk. He also learns of Rukawa, one of the country's top basketball prospects, also a freshman at Shohoku.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Slam Dunk goes for another five episodes here that really brings us to some more neat points in the show and sets up more of the larger picture of the game and the relations. A couple of key areas are really hit on these episodes and in looking back at it you realize just how much ground they've covered. With the practices being hard and constant, Sakuragi has been kept to doing the basics and just messing around there with things that he needs to get hand on first. One thing that potentially works in his favor, though not at first, is the arrival of the teams actual coach, an old rotund gentleman who used to be one of the greats in his day with the game but has become mostly just a really great coach. His style is amusing since he lets Akagi basically handle things and watches from the side before making his judgments on how to proceed.
With a practice game going on, Sakuragi gets to be really jealous since it's freshmen versus the seniors and he's not able to participate and instead has to watch as Rukawa really shows his stuff and practically outdoes Akagi at every turn. Everyone's starting to get the idea that a couple of these rookies, Sakuragi included, could be real powerhouses if they can get into the right mindset and team mentality. Watching Rukawa play and then Sakuragi getting into things after the coach approves it, you can see the raw talent in one and the refined in the other and exactly how they're going to play off of each other. Sakuragi is such a child at times with this but it's just damn funny watching him be like that with everyone at one time or another.
Another change that comes into play with these episodes is a new rivalry. A long time rivalry that Akagi barely recognizes, Aota of the Judo club has decided that he can acquire Sakuragi for his club and take their club to the nationals as the first one from the school. Aota and Akagi have a rivalry that goes back many years from when they'd compete on things like height and the like. Akagi's sort of ignored him for the most part but any time he starts talking about taking the team to the nationals, Aota shows up and proclaims that he's going to do it. And now that he has his eye on Sakuragi, he's intent on stealing him from Akagi. Amusingly, Akagi doesn't seem to mind the idea but you can't be sure if it's because he knows Sakuragi won't go or that he's hoping Aota will get him off the team. Akagi doesn't reveal his feelings there at all.
Aota's attempts at getting Sakuragi are priceless on their own, especially after he realizes that Sakuragi is interested in Haruko. Even better, Aota and Haruko are pretty friendly with each other and even use some endearing names and honorifics with each other, something that completely sets Sakuragi off and gives him the motivation to meet with Aota in the judo room. Sakuragi has zero intention of joining the club but Aota has an ace up his sleeve in the form of several pictures of Haruko over the years from her younger cute self to how she is now. With Akagi and others watching from the window, this is a great laugh out loud sequence as two immobile forces collide but still want what the other has.
There's still a lot of ground to cover in this series but the first ten episodes are quite good and this set of episodes in particular does a great job of expanding what Sakuragi is actually capable of both in the game and in his regular life. The cast expands nicely and we're starting to know more of the team itself which will help flesh things out nicely. Rukawa gets a chance to shine but takes a back seat after that to allow for the judo club to try and stake its claim and to show just where Sakuragi really stands. The fans of this show and the manga should be extolling it from the hilltops and encouraging everyone to check it out.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.