The final minutes of the game plays out and honestly it’s impossible to tell just what will happen.
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)
I’ve been at the edge of my seat in feeling like this has been dragged out too far, but when you get episodes like these where you really aren’t sure if the team will make it, I can’t help but be very happy with the tension and drama that it’s provided. When the game gets down to its final minutes, it does seem like it’s stretching beyond reason and that the clock doesn’t match what’s happening on the screen, but there is so much material to process as the intensity ratchets up that you get caught up in all of it. When each episode reaches its climax before the end of the game, I can only imagine the frustration of those who were watching this one a weekly basis back in 1993 and 1994.
This particular match has had its intensity level set for an age, but made more so simply because it is Ryonan versus Shohoku. It’d be just as intense even if the second slot for the Nationals wasn’t involve, but because it is there’s just so much more at stake. The ebb and flow of this game has been all over the map with a lot of issues following some players and that’s led to some good commentary. With so many other teams watching this match now and having their own experiences either against Shohoku or Ryonan, they’re able to provide some very different insights into it. Then you have everything that’s going through the minds of the Ryonan players and that of Taoka, the coach of Ryonan. His mind is the most fun to watch and listen in on because of all that he’s put into the team and the way he’s analyzed everything and worked with his gut on it. To see them do what they do and push forward with all of his knowledge and experience is truly exhilarating.
What amused me in particular with this set of episodes is that just as soon as I comment about how underutilized Kogure is, he becomes a key figure in all of this. With so many people getting fouls as Ryonan is pushing them hard in this direction, it’s no surprise that eventually one would get fouled out entirely, or come close and other issues crop up. With Kogure in the game after working so hard with everyone else and being part of Akagi’s dream since the start, it’s great to see him finally get a chance to step up to the plate. Or the paint as the case may be. With the way Ryonan has rallied, it’s certainly a critical time for a fresh and vibrant player to step in, but there’s such a belief that only the first string players are of any merit that nobody really things of the co-captain as a threat. But as Ryonan has discovered, even an amateur like Sakuragi can provide for a huge number of surprises. Sometimes a liability for one team becomes a liability for the other team as well.
With only sixteen episodes left after this, I’m curious as to how it will all go. There’s a decent epilogue episode here that deals with the fallout from the game itself and we get a few nods towards the characters outside of a basketball environment, Rukawa in particular, that paint a different picture of the young man. While I’m curious to know more about him, I do worry that if they bring in too much character drama at this point, it could skew the course of the series in an unappealing way. While Shohoku functions as a team, and they’re so engaging to watch, dipping into the character stories may cause it to lose its energy. That’s hard to believe it could happen though when you have someone as high energy as Sakuragi around. This set of episodes is fantastic, even if drawn out for the drama, because it progresses things along. So many series idle for so long that having one that has to make progress with each game is thrilling. Great stuff and a huge turning point for everyone.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitle
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.