Life can deal people some bum cards. Some accept it and make the most of life, others blame the world and spiral into a self-loathing existence. REAL follows the life of three men and their hardships, and the possibility that basketball will see them to happiness.
Writer/Artist: Takehiko Inoue
Translation: John Worry
Adaptation: John Worry
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.
Meet Kiyohiko Togawa, a hard-edged, no nonsense wheelchair basketball athlete with a Spartan work ethic and a keen sense of competition. Long before he ever picked up a ball, Kiyohiko was just a skinny little kid in middle school barely beginning to discover his potential to become a track star.. until a vicious bout with cancer cut off his track career far too soon.
The first volume in this series successfully establishes three characters and their positions in the world of basketball. Nomiya and Takahashi play on the same high school basketball team. Nomiya is a good player, but he works for everything, even skipping lunch to practice. Takahashi is quite the opposite, he is the team’s captain and his skill just comes naturally. The final lead character is Kiyohiko, a stud among wheelchair basketball players.
This second volume finds Nomiya watching his school’s final basketball game from the sidelines after his expulsion from school earlier in the year. It is a heartbreaking loss that could have been avoided if he was still playing, or at least he thinks so. To make matters worse, his boss fired him.
On the other hand, Takahashi is no longer the captain since he is lying in a hospital bed trying to recover from a car accident. A dump truck hit him while he tried to steal a bike. It is kind of a ‘serves him right’ situation after stealing a bike and then throwing his girlfriend off the back so he could get away from the bike’s owner. Still, I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy, it is a steep price to pay for grand theft bicycle. All that natural athletic ability he took for granted has gone to waste, and no one from his team has even come to visit him in the hospital. He should feel lucky to be alive, but the fact that the accident left him paralyzed may prove to be too much for him to handle.
Kiyohiko has long since accepted his handicap. This volume flashes back to his childhood to show how he lost his leg to bone cancer. It is a touching story, and it sheds light on the origin of Kiyohiko’s friendship with his coach Azumi. I am sure she still loves him, but it seems like Kiyohiko will never allow her into his heart. Is it because he doesn’t feel good enough for her? On the other hand, maybe he holds some resentment because she knew him when he was a track star before his cancer.
I know all of this sounds tragic and probably an unmemorable read. Yes, it is tragic, but that and the believable reactions of the characters is what makes this so good. Besides, wheelchair basketball is pretty damn manly. Personally, I can’t wait to see how life unfolds for these three men.
This is a nice release from VIZ; oversized with book flaps and all the original color pages printed for this edition. My only complaint is the editor’s choice to do away with most of the honorifics. According to the editorial notes, the editor didn’t feel honorifics were necessary and removed all but a few instances. How did this guy get a job in the manga industry? I feel honorifics add to any story taking place in Japan, so I’m disappointed with VIZ on this point.
Otherwise Highly recommended.