Shohoku’s problem child situation doubles when Ryota Miyagi returns to the team and brings nothing but trouble.
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)
With the practice game done and over with – and very close at that – and Sakuragi now having a pair of proper basketball sneakers, Slam Dunk has to start setting its real goals for moving forward. This batch of episodes moves us past what Toei managed to release on DVD before they realized they didn’t have a clue as to what they were doing and why their sales were so abysmally low. I’ve waited years in hopes of someone else picking up this show and giving it a proper release but have finally caved to moving on to watching it via streaming. I did watch the previous twenty streamed as well, reworking previous reviews, but now it’s on to completely fresh material that I haven’t seen in either manga or anime form before. Which is really a big positive.
Across the five episodes here we deal with a transitional state for the team and some of the characters. Sakuragi is obviously feeling much better about things considering how the game went when they put him, but also because of his self-image where he feels he saved the day overall. With new shoes in hand, he’s going to practices now with renewed enthusiasm and a sense of strength when it comes to his position within the team. He’s managed to do a fairly decent job of bonding with everyone, even Akagi, through the time at Ryonan and he’s moving forward in a way that he hasn’t with others before outside of his group of ruffians. Though he’s obviously a bit cocky as well, he’s doing things pretty well here and is finding himself feeling more confident. He is still oblivious to a lot of things though, including a friend of Haruko’s that’s so obviously hitting on him.
What’s very new to this set of episodes is the introduction of Ryota Miyagi. Ryota’s apparently quite the problem child himself as he’s of similar mold to Sakuragi and the two of them nearly clash right from the start through a misunderstanding with a group of punks who want to punish Ryota for the issues that landed him and others in the hospital previously. This sets up a fairly length series of fights during a few episodes here, but it’s the material before that which is the best. When the two guys realize that they’re actually on the same team after their initial clash, it’s like oil and water with them. They’re going up against each other and both have big egos only to be smacked around by Akagi and the others. Where their relationship goes is actually quite amusing as they’re very similar in other areas which in turn makes them very sympathetic and understanding of each other. Rival problem children that in turn inspire and help each other out is an interesting and very fun take on the situation.
A good deal of these episodes do revolve around fights of various sorts, whether it’s the initial one with Ryota being attacked and Sakuragi getting involved or the later one when Mitsui comes back to the school with more of his friends for a very serious fight. Mitsui’s need for revenge does slowly get explored partially towards the end of episode twenty-five, but before that the entire intent is to cause a ruckus that will bloody up the team and get them disqualified because they ended up in a fight at all. It’s certainly easy for an outsider to cause trouble here in this regard but things aren’t like what Mitsui expected due to people like Rukawa and Sakuragi being involved. Unfortunately, Akagi is mostly missing from this because he’s off in an extracurricular physics class because it turns out that he’s actually quite gifted in this area.
Slam Dunk continues to be that kind of really fun sports show that really appeals highly to me. Sakuragi’s range of emotions is amusing to watch as he goes from deadly serious to confident and cocky and then to almost bashful innocence at times. These episodes move the story forward more an interesting way as we get a new problem child on the team but one that doesn’t play out like you’d expect. It’s not clear how he’ll really fit in the dynamic yet, but he’s brought a lot of tension and challenges to the team in his short time since returning to school after his hospital time. Slam Dunk is just good sports fun, but one that definitely needs to be watched in chunks.
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.