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Slam Dunk volume 31 (manga review)

Slam Dunk volume 31Title: Slam Dunk volume 31
Author/Artist: Takehiko Inoue
Publisher: Viz Media
American Release Date: Dec. 3rd, 2013
Format: Manga / 192 pages
Publisher Age Rating: T+ for older teen
Genre: Shonen, sports, drama, comedy
Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

With only a minute left in the game, the players of Shohoku High have closed the gap on the scoreboard with a supreme effort that has the crowd on its feet. Sannoh, the reigning champions, are still in the lead, but the game now hangs in the balance, and it isn’t over until the last whistle blows. Both teams know this is it – time to lay everything on the line and no holding back, because only one team will leave the court victorious!

Hanamichi Sakuragi is hurt and try to leave the game, but while on the bench he realizes that this is his defining moment and ask to be substituted back into the game. The tension is running high and the team is exhausted. Deep down in their hearts they know that this game means more than anything else. Can they pull it off? Can they be the ultimate Cinderella team? There is only one way to find out and you know what that is.

Commentary:

The first thing that struct me about volume 31 was the lack of text to drive the story. It was clear from that outset that the artistry and ability to draw the action will make or break this final volume. The simple truth is that it really works. You can almost feel how tired the players are and at the same time see how they are able to get their adrenalin running to finish the game. It work to almost perfection because the movement that is drawn into the game stood out and really drove the action home. If there was anything about the drawing that detracted from the action it had to be the way the sweating of the players. There were panels that looked like everyone had some weird rash or single little droplets were just spotted all over the players. With the strength of all of the other aspects to the drawing I think Inoue went a little overboard with the sweat.

There are several other sports manga that work well with similar plots, but Slam Dunk is able to capture the fast pace of a basketball game and also bring a soul into it at the same time. With the sports manga like Cross Game the tension of baseball is easier to portray because it is a slower paced game that most often comes down to the pitcher and batter. In Slam Dunk and the basketball game the spotlight cam be on one or two people, but the others on the court factor greatly into the action. Takehiko Inoue captures the feeling of the game and still manages to let the underlying melodrama shine through.

Overall Grade: A-

All in all this is a great final volume to this series. My only complaint was the way the sweat was depicted on the player and it was enough to distract me  early on in the volume. I thought that lack of textual narrative help the reader stay with the action and really show off Inoue’s ability to tell the story through the pictures. This is a great series for any sports fan out there.