Episode 49: Slam Dunk Time

My eyes and brain are still tired from Sherlock Holmes but I still wanted to do something with the semblance of productivity so I figure an extra post seemed like the right thing to do. I recently became reinterested in an anime from the 90s that was pretty cool. No I’m not talking about Dragon Ball Z, though that would be like 10 posts about its serial nature. Slam Dunk is a manga that got turned into an anime about 20 years ago (wow that makes me feel so old). THe anime lasted several years and detailed how the Shohoku highschool basketball team got to the national championship and won. The anime stops at episode 101 when they finished training and qualifying for the national tournament. There are also some OVAs which I’m not exactly sure if they are canon. Which reminds me, I wonder if OVAs tend to go in one direction or another when it comes to narrative continuity of the source material.

While the original Japanese voices work well, the Spanish dub is surprisingly good. I recently tried out a few episodes in English and wow they are horrible. Maybe it was the fact that they insisted on using everyone’s first name when they are normally known by their last names because that’s how Japan works. It hurts alot more when the cheerleaders who actually have the name Rukawa on their shirts call him Kaede, something that rarely if ever happens in the Spanish or Japanese.

The story is somewhat predictable and characters are archetypical of sports related narratives. Take a team who has always dreamed of getting to the big stage but never had the talent and fill it with your standard crew of athletes. The dedicated captain (Akagi) who has worked his whole life to achieve success and this is his last shot. The gentle hearted coach (Anzai) who once had a meanstreak. The prodigal one (Mitsui) who dismissed the sport and is bitter but gets over it, often a sixth ranger addition to the team. The short, quick one who relies on cunning (Miyagi). The slightly stoic dark haired guy who everyone recognizes as a prodigy (Rukawa) plus all the lodies love him. And of course you get the protagonist, boastful, overconfident, short tempered, constantly the butt of every joke, filled with boundless energy and potential which you end up rooting for (Basketball genius Hanamichi Sakuragi). If the last two seem familiar it’s because they bare a big resemblance to Naruto and Sasuke. So, the summary of Slam Dunk is Naruto but with basketball instead of ninjas.

As with all serial narratives, the cast of characters grows pretty quickly as more installments are published. The Shohoku team gets a few additions and other teams like Ryonan, Shoyo, and Kainan get some pretty full fledged rosters down the line. Rivalries emerge all the time and you see them all come together in the final episodes where a conglomerate of the best teams come together for a final practice game against Shohoku. Speaking of final moments, time slows down way too much during actual games. It’s not even the overly deep flashbacks during dramatic moments that take a few seconds. It took two episodes to show the last two minutes of the very first game they played. It’s not that hard to consider once you see that between the theme song, what happened in the previous episode and the epilogue/cliffhanger of what will happen next makes it so that a 22 minute show after commercials gets dropped to like 17 minutes. Also, the way that they show constant running during scenes makes it so that the basketball court has to be several times bigger than standard measurements.

I recently started watching the episodes via YouTube again and often have to stop myself before turning it into a marathon session. It’s one of those things that I’ve been arguing about webcomics and anything that has an accessible archive. When the next installment is just a click away an archive binge is way too easy. The problem with seeing a serial in this manner is that a lot of moments are repetitive and redundant because the set ups and flashbacks don’t do their job. When you have weeks in between key moments, you need some reminders to enforce their importance. but when there are only minutes or hours between them. Many times I find myself clicking the story ahead on such moments, mostly because my impatince and control over the narrative pacing goes beyond the intended form, weird huh?

Anyways, I recommend checking the show out for yourselves. Here are all the episodes in Spanish. Cool way to learn the language. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66YvdEWaurY&list=PL2F517AA89FB4B636&index=1&feature=plpp_video

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2 thoughts on “Episode 49: Slam Dunk Time

  1. I loved that anime! Used to watch it on Telecomicas! Nice post.

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