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Slam Dunk (スラムダンク Suramu Danku?) is a sports-themed manga series written by Takehiko Inoue about a basketball team from Shōhoku High School. It was first serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump in Japan from 1990 to 1996 and had also been adapted into an anime series by Toei Animation which had been broadcast worldwide, enjoying much popularity particularly in Japan, several other Asian countries and Europe.[1][2] Inoue later used basketball as a central theme in two subsequent manga titles: Buzzer Beater and Real. In 2010, Inoue received special commendations from the Japan Basketball Association for helping popularize basketball in Japan.[2]


Slam Dunk centers around Hanamichi Sakuragi, who starts as a delinquent outcast, becoming the leader of a gang. Hanamichi, being very unpopular with girls, has been rejected by them fifty times. Yet, he finds out that Haruko Akagi is the girl of his dreams, and is happy when she's not scared of him like all the other girls he has asked out.

Haruko Akagi, who recognizes Hanamichi's athleticism, introduces him to the Shohoku basketball team. Hanamichi was reluctant to join the team at first because he had no previous background in any sports and thought that basketball was a game for losers (also because the fiftieth girl rejected him for a basketball player). Sakuragi, despite his immaturity and hot temper, proves to be a natural athlete with potential and joins the team in order to impress Haruko and prove that he is worthy of her. Kaede Rukawa — Sakuragi's bitter rival (both on the basketball court and love, even when Rukawa doesn't acknowledge Haruko's crush on him), the star rookie and a "girl magnet" - joins the team at the same time. Hisashi Mitsui, an ex-junior high school MVP, and Ryota Miyagi , a short but fast player, both also rejoin the team and together these four struggle to complete team captain Takenori Akagi's dream of making Shohoku the national champion. Together, these misfits gain publicity and the once little known Shohoku basketball team becomes an all-star contender in Japan.


Inoue became inspired to make Slam Dunk as he liked basketball since High School. After Inoue started Slam Dunk, he became surprised while receiving letters from readers that they started playing the sport due to the manga. His editor even told him "basketball was a taboo in this world." Due to these letters, Inoue decided he wanted to draw better basketball games in the series.[3] With the series, Inoue wants to demonstrate the feelings from an athlete such as their thoughts when they win, lose or improve at their sport. When he started making Vagabond, he noted that when he was doing Slam Dunk he had a simpler perspective on life as he focused more in victories and success.[4]

With the series, Inoue wants the readers to feel achievements as well as love for the sport.[5] Believing his success as a manga artist being largely due to basketball, Inoue started a Slam Dunk Scholarship for Japanese students as he wanted to give back to the sport by increasing its popularity in Japan.[6] However, when asked about the response from readers to basketball, Inoue commented that although Slam Dunk is technically a basketball manga, its story could have been done with other sports such as soccer.[7] He also added that the artwork for the manga was very typical and mangalike in comparison to his newer works such as Real. His experiences with basketball also influenced the story from Slam Dunk: as a youth Inoue started playing basketball to be popular with the girls, but later became obsessed with the sport in and of itself. This was mirrored in the character of Hanamichi Sakuragi, who starts playing basketball to impress the girl he likes, to later become truly fond of the game.[8]



The series was originally published in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump since the issue 40 from 1990 until the issue 27 from 1996.[9][10] The 276 individual chapters were originally collected in 31 tankōbon editions under Shueisha's Jump Comics imprint, with the first volume being published on February 8, 1991 and volume 31 on October 3, 1996.[11][12] It was later reassembled in 24 kanzenban volumes under Shogakukan's Big Comics Selection imprint from March 19, 2001 to February 2, 2002.[13][14]

In North America, an English version of Slam Dunk was published by the now-defunct Gutsoon! Entertainment, which serialized the title in their manga anthology Raijin Comics from 2002 to 2004.[15] Five collected volumes were published under Gutsoon's Raijin Graphic Novels imprint. They were released from July 2, 2003 until May 5, 2004.[16][17] After Gutsoon! went out of business, the license for the Slam Dunk was purchased by Viz Media, which published a preview of the series in the December 2007 issue of the North American edition of Shonen Jump.[18][19][20] Slam Dunk began serialization in the magazine, starting with the May 2008 issue, as well as in tankōbon format with the first being published on September 2, 2008.[21][22][23] As of February 2, 2010, Viz has published eight volumes of their translated edition.[24]

In 2004, Inoue produced an epilogue titled Slam Dunk: 10 Days After, which was drawn on 23 chalkboards in the former campus of the now-defunct Misaki High School located in the Kanagawa Prefecture, which was held for public exhibition from December 3 to December 5. The epilogue, along with coverage of the event, was reprinted in the February 2005 issue of Switch magazine.[9]


File:Slam dunk dvd.jpg

Cover of the first DVD from Slam Dunk published by Geneon and Toei Animation.

The anime series, consisting of 101 episodes, was produced by the TV Asahi terrestrial television network and Toei Animation and directed by Nobutaka Nishizawa.[25] It was first aired on TV Asahi from October 16, 1993 to March 23, 1996. It was later aired on the anime satellite television network, Animax, in addition to four animated movies produced. The anime series follows the manga storyline, but leaves out the National Tournament games. Toei compiled the episodes into a series of seventeen DVDs which were released in Japan from December 10, 2004 to May 21, 2005.[26][27] Toei once again collected the series in three DVD boxes during 2008. All the three boxes have a total of seventeen discs.[28][29][30]

Toei and Geneon briefly chose to release the anime on DVD after the manga was discontinued, though the anime was also discontinued after only a few volumes.[31][32] The first DVD was released on March 15, 2005 and the volume 4 was the last one released on June 14, 2005 before they were cancelled.[33][34] Various episodes from the series were also downloadable in IGN's Direct2Drive service.[35] Toei is currently streaming episodes of the series on-line for a fee and for free through Crunchyroll. Joost also started airing all the 101 as of May 2009 on their website.[36] Each episode is in Japanese, with English subtitles.[37]

The music was composed by Takanobu Masuda. Three CD soundtracks were published during the airing of the series in Japan.[38][39] The openings, ending and other two themes were collected into the CD soundtrack The Best of TV Animation Slam Dunk, released on July 21, 2003.[40]


Four movies were produced by Toei Animation from 1994-1995 while the manga and TV series were still running. They contain largely new material that is either only hinted at or is not presented in the manga. From August 1-4, 2006, NHK broadcasted all 4 movies as part of its satellite networks NHK BS-2's Summer Anime Choice line-up, and TV Osaka aired the last three movies from January 3-8, 2007.[41] All the films were collected into a DVD box named Slam Dunk The Movie which was released on December 10, 2004.[42]

The first film was titled 'Slam Dunk', and premiered on March 12, 1994. Set after Shohoku's practice game against Ryonan, the film focuses on a practice game against Takezono High. Before the game, Sakuragi runs into Yoko Shimura, the girl who rejects him in the very first scene of the series, and Oda, the basketball player she rejected him for. Conquer the Nation, Hanamichi Sakuragi! (全国制覇だ! 桜木花道 Zenkoku Seiha da! Sakuragi Hanamichi?), released on July 20, 1994, is the second film from the series. It happens during Shohoku's 4th Round Qualifying game against Tsukubu High. The film features original characters including Godai, an old friend of Akagi and Kogure's, Rango, a wild show-off who is in love with Haruko and quarrels with Sakuragi, and Coach Kawasaki, a former pupil of Anzai-sensei. Shohoku's Greatest Challenge! Burning Hanamichi Sakuragi (湘北最大の危機! 燃えろ桜木花道 Shohoku Saidai no Kiki! Moero Sakuragi Hanamichi?) was released on March 12, 1995. Set after Shohoku's loss to Kainan, and during a practice match against Ryokufu High. Howling Basketman Spirit!! Hanamichi and Rukawa's Hot Summer (吠えろバスケットマン魂!! 花道と流川の熱き夏 Hoero Basukettoman Tamashii!! Hanamichi to Rukawa no Atsuki Natsu?), which was released one June 15, 1995, tells that Rukawa's middle school kouhai Ichiro Mizusawa will be paralyzed soon and wishes to have one last game against Rukawa.[41]

Video games

Numerous video games based on the series, mostly developed by Banpresto and produced by Bandai, have been published for the Japanese market. Two basketball sims titled Slam Dunk and Slam Dunk 2 were released for the Game Boy.[43] The Super Famicom had three games, Slam Dunk, Slam Dunk 2, and SD Heat Up!!.[44][45] Slam Dunk games have also been released for the Game Gear, Mega Drive, and Sega Saturn. A Slam Dunk coin-operated arcade game by Banpresto was released in 1995.


Slam Dunk has sold over 120 million copies in Japan as of May 2007.[46] In 1995, it received the 40th Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen.[47] The success of Slam Dunk is cited as an influence in the increased popularity of basketball among the Japanese youth during 1990s.[48] In a poll of over 79,000 Japanese fans for the 10th Japan Media Arts Festival, Slam Dunk was voted the #1 manga of all time.[49] The English translation of Slam Dunk was listed one of the best comics of 2008 by Publishers Weekly.[50] In a survey from Oricon in 2009, Slam Dunk ranked first as the manga that fans wanted to be turned into a live-action film.[51] In the Japanese government's Media Arts 100 Poll of the public's favorite works of art of all time, Slam Dunk took first place in the manga division.[52] The imprint version of Slam Dunk: 10 Days After has been highly popular in Japan, having initially ranked 6th and then 15th in a ranking of Japanese comics.[53][54]

The anime adaptation has also been very popular in Japan. In TV Asahi's Top 100 Anime show, Slam Dunk ranked as the 10th most popular anime.[55] In another poll from TV Asashi but developed by a website, the series ranked 8th.[56] The DVD boxes from the anime also had a good sale in Japan, having appeared in rankings from Japanese Animation DVD Ranking.[57][58]

See also

  • J. R. Sakuragi — Japanese-American basketball player who named himself after Hanamichi Sakuragi[59]
  • Kung Fu Dunk


  1. {{cite web|url= profile: Manga artist Takehiko Inoue has hoop dreams|author=Charles Solomon|work=[[Los Angeles Times|date=2010-06-12|accessdate=2010-06-14}}
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  3. Inoue, Takehiko (1996). "Afterword". Slam Dunk, Volume 31. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-871839-9. 
  4. Deb, Aoki. "Interview: Takehiko Inoue". Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
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  8. Cha, Kai-Ming; MacDonald, Heidi (2007-11-26). "Takehiko Inoue Unveils Mural at New Kinokuniya". Publisher Weekly. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
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  30. "SLAM DUNK DVD-Collection Vol.2" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
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  32. "Toei DVDs Cancelled". Anime News Network. 2006-09-18. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
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  34. "Slam Dunk, Vol. 4". Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
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  58. "Japanese Animation DVD Ranking, October 21-28". Anime News Network. 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2005-09-23. 
  59. Former Bruin is now Japan’s J.R. Sakuragi, Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2008.

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