When we are young, we often aimlessly try to experiment doing different things. Some of us do it out of boredom, some of us do it to impress someone we want to notice us, and some of us try to find a purpose through finding new things to do. This is especially true in our late high school and university years, where we venture on a journey of self-discovery to find something of value to us. I’m not talking about existentialism here, I’m talking about finding something we love and put passion to, since ultimately we remember these days very fondly as we grow up.
Slam Dunk is one such tale. It tells a tale of a young man looking for a passion to love, and finds a girl and a sport.
How well does this work? Extremely well.
The story is largely centered around Sakuragi and his passion for playing basketball, which works very well due to the fact that we experience his growth as a person and as a player from the very beginning until the very end…in the manga. Not here, unfortuantely, since the anime ends prematurely and anime-only viewers are treated to hints of what he becomes later on, which is rather unfortunate.
His energetic and overenthusiastic yet naive and rather ignorant attitude about basketball work extremely well and helps him find a passion for the sport on his own, independent of his feeling for the girl (which is why he joined the club in the first place).
He wouldn’t work as well as a character if it weren’t for his dynamics with his teammates, all of whom are engaging and bounce off him extremely well. Rukawa is more than a generic cool guy, Akagi is more than the typical leader character and so on. The characters are fleshed out extremely well, and they all move past their cliches quickly enough. They’re interesting, complex and dynamic and all of them have different reasons for wanting to play basketball.
The artwork looks great and feels natural and consistent throughout the show, with characters being identifiable from one another and facial expressions being easy to tell apart. The character designs are very unique and different from any anime I’ve ever seen so far.
The animation quality is above average for its time, but consistent and decent looking (not even relevant for most of the show) throughout the show, which is surprising considering it’s 101 episodes long. The pacing flows naturally from scene to scene and tone changes feel consistent and natural.
The show is very entertaining and engaging, but unfortunately lacks a conclusive ending and it’s rather unfortunate that anime-only fans may need to wait for a sequel season (highly unlikely at this point) or a remake to see the full story.
This show is highly recommended for sports fans or for anime viewers wanting to watch an incredibly likeable cast of characters, but the manga is nessacary for gaining the full experience for better or for worse.
Very much a gem at this point, considering that basketball and all the attention given to it as far as anime fans are concerned is given to the entertaining but lackluster as far as realism is concerned Kuroko no Basket, which is a shame considering that the show is something a lot of anime fans would like but ignore due to age.
If you feel like watching a slow but steady, consistent and rewarding sports anime, then Slam Dunk is very much for you.