It’s an all star line-up as the series draws to a close and sets the stage for the Nationals.
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).
What a ride. Few series seem to be able to manage and muster enough energy to hold through twenty-six episodes, never mind the one hundred and one episodes that comprise Slam Dunk. At the series end, there are moments of reflection and you realize just how much has come before and the growth of all the main players since the start. By the end of the series, I find myself sitting here already terribly missing this team, their energy and their enthusiasm.
The last six episodes here are quite appropriate as a piece of closure, bringing to an end of everything that has occurred so far. Before it kicks off, we get a return to a fun setting as Sakuragi has accomplished his 20,000 shots and is realizing his power and place in the scheme of things now. The visual aid for all of this is that the basketball shows he acquired a few months ago are now literally falling apart at the seams with holes. This is a great thing for him since he knows he can get them cheap through a little intimidation at the same place, but he gets to do that with Haruko and go out for tea afterwards. He’s still doing his simple best to try and woo her with his charms but she remains oblivious. Beyond that, the shopkeep is a whole lot of fun once again and actually imparts some really neat little things with what he talks about.
The bulk of the end run here however revolves around a special game that’s being played. While Akagi wants to keep to the basics and not overexert anyone since the Nationals begin in just two days, Hikoichi is still smarting over what happened to Ryonan and actually manages to push the idea of a game when a couple of Shoyo players visit Shohoku to wish them good luck. Calling in some Ryonan folks, it eventually turns into a really engaging all-star game of sorts with the best of the best of each team rotating in and out and going against Shohoku, often without Sakuragi since he drew the short end of the stick. The kind of power that’s brought in, especially when Sendo arrives, really provides a fantastic challenge for Shohoku and is a great send off to the series. It allows the core players to shine and brings in a series of guest stars in a sense that have helped shape the show while also laying the narrative down for how the Nationals may go.
Slam Dunk was a series that I really enjoyed when I first saw part of it on DVD and really lamented that Toei dropped the ball on it. I resisted for awhile in checking out a streaming version of it but I gave in and did the whole series this way. I would have once long preferred to own it, but now having seen it, I don’t imagine that I’d watch it again. That said, it was an amazing experience to see because these characters and the situations they’re put through are exhilarating, heart wrenching and inspiring. There are so many wonderful things about the show, such as its dedicated focus on the sport itself and not silly pointless outside drama. The way it made you really unsure about what could happen in any match and the sheer intensity of those who played. But it also had a whole lot of fun along the way, often because of Sakruagi, but generally as a whole group. There’s a reason why Slam Dunk is so well known and popular even all these years later. It was an influential piece of work at its time and it hasn’t really been matched in scope since then. I hope this eventually get a home video release that it deserves, but I’m glad Toei at least managed to provide the fans it tantalized the series with a way of seeing it after all this time. Very recommended.
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.