The Challenge of the Common Shot – For a self-proclaimed genius such as Sakuragi, executing a dazzling slam dunk is no problem at all, but what about some other basketball moves that require a bit more finesse? With the help of Haruko (and some goading from captain Akagi), Sakuragi attempts to put his pride in check and learn how to pull off a basic layup. In theory it should be easy… but sometimes the simplest shots are the toughest to master.

Now that Sakuragi has proved beyond a shadow of the doubt that he wants to play basketball for Shohoku, the fiery tempered red head is at last allowed into the team proper, training with the guys and slowly but surely upping his skills. Of course, the intense rivalry between him and Rukawa continues unabated (with pretty violent outcomes), while his never-ending quest to impress Haruko flames as strong as ever.

However, Sakuragi is still very much a beginner and in order to improve, he is going to have to learn some new shots, starting right from the beginning with the basic layup. Needless to say, something this simple but which requires a delicate touch, is still very far out of Sakuragi’s reach. However, if there is one thing this hothead has, it is determination, and with some unexpected bonus help from Haruko and Akagi himself, Hanamichi might just learn it in time.

Because the first practice match for the season has already been pencilled in. It’s Shohoku versus Ryonan – and that means facing their superstar, Sendoh!

(Not that this means Sakuragi is going to be picked for the match mind you…)

As per usual, Takehiko Inoue’s school boy basketball comedy is as enjoyable to read as ever. Hanamich Sakuragi is at his simple minded, determined best and his logic and approach to things will keep you in stitches through the book. There is plenty of character growth in terms of basketball skills in offer here, but perhaps not so much in terms of actual character deepening. Still, there is plenty of laughs and action on offering in this volume, even if we still haven’t reached an actual game of basketball by the end of the third volume yet!

Complementing this fun story is of course Inoue’s beautifully detailed pencils where his incredibly precise backgrounds meet his often super deformed characters to great effect. He captures the various basketball poses and action shots well and he just seems to make his characters work, even if they don’t always look so perfect in places.

Nevertheless, one thing you have to give this creative genius is his ability to capture the comedy moments absolutely perfectly, always ensuring that there is a smile on your face with each and every page turn!

In summary, if you are looking for a sports-related read which is guaranteed to keep you laughing while building up a decent story with some fun characters to boot, you can’t go wrong with Slam Dunk!

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