Things that hold up well about the classic sports anime

Things that hold up well about the classic sports anime

Slam Dunk is one of the most popular sports manga and anime of all time, and is extremely popular, especially in Japan. The manga has sold millions of volumes and is considered an incredibly influential series that continues to influence sports manga to this day.


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The Slam Dunk anime ran from 1993 to 1996, meaning it’s been a long time since the series premiered. While there have been many popular sports anime since it ended, Slam Dunk remains an example of sports anime. Here are some aspects of Slam Dunk which still holds up after so many years.

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5/5 The camaraderie

Slam Dunk Shohoku Team starters all together

Sports are all about teamwork, especially a sport like basketball. Without everyone working together to achieve a common goal, it would be impossible to achieve victory. Because of that, it is important for players to trust their teammates and build a relationship with each other in order to achieve success. Slam Dunk know this, so the development of the relationships within the Shohoku team gets a lot of focus.

The team at Shohoku is made up of a pretty fierce group of characters: the arrogant Hanamichi Sakuragi, the stoic Kaede Rukawa and the ex-criminal Hisashi Mitsui are just some of the bold and brash personalities that make up the team. While their personalities make them stand out, it also makes it difficult for them to work together. But as their bonds grow stronger, each member of the team begins to work better together, improving the overall performance of the team. Watching this team grow and bond is heartwarming, and watching them succeed because of it is amazing.

4/5 The rivalries

Slam Dunk Sakuragi and Rukawa fight over a ball

Rivalry is another important aspect of sports anime. Without strong teams to test the main characters and push them to their limits, most sports anime would be pretty boring. Slam Dunk‘s Shohoku is a weak, untested team, meaning they are constantly being tested by stronger basketball teams, with Kainan and Ryonan being their biggest rivals. Rivalries aren’t limited to teams, as certain players like Kainan’s Shinichi Maki and Ryonan’s Akira Sendoh also present themselves as powerful obstacles on Shohoku’s path to victory.

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However, rivalry is not limited to other teams. Competition between fellow players is also important for growth, and while Rukawa may not see Sakuragi as a rival, Sakuragi uses his antagonistic attitude towards Rukawa to fuel his own growth. Despite the vast difference in skill between the two players, Rukawa eventually comes to see Sakuragi as a valuable teammate, and vice versa. Likewise, despite the fierce rivalry between the teams, players always manage to form new friendships towards the end of the game.

3/5 The basketball action

Slam Dunk Training Match with Ryonan

As a basketball anime, a player would naturally expect the series to focus on basketball, and naturally it does. Slam Dunk is a basketball anime in the purest sense – it doesn’t have any weird supernatural powers like Kuroko no Basketand it doesn’t have special effects and images like Blue lock. Slam Dunk is pure basketball, for better or for worse, and it does not deviate or extrapolate from the game in any way.

It may seem boring to someone who has no interest in the sport, but Slam Dunk has an interesting way of making the sport look absolutely thrilling. The battles are tense, with the advantage constantly bouncing back and forth. Players gain an advantage over each other by using nothing more than basketball techniques. While fans of flashy spectacles may find it boring, the down-to-earth portrayal of basketball is enticing and holds up to this day.

2/5 The comedy

Slam Dunk Sakuragi hits Rukawa with balls

Slam Dunk may be intense and lively, but that doesn’t mean it lacks comedy. Slam Dunk is full of humor and comedic moments, and the protagonist Hanamichi Sakuragi does most of the driving. Despite his initially imposing demeanor, he has a rather clumsy personality, and his arrogance and petulance often puts him in situations that create even more comedy. Sakuragi is not the only source of comedy. Each character has their own potential for humor, especially in Shohoku, and each member of the team has an incredibly vibrant personality.

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While Slam Dunk is full of comedy, it is important that it does not intrude during serious and impactful moments. Fortunately, it never does Slam Dunk, where comic moments and serious moments are mixed together so that they don’t get in each other’s way. This makes the series a very balanced experience that never gets too drawn out or lasts too long.

1/5 Sakuragi’s Journey

Hanamichi Sakuragi with the shaved head

Hanamichi Sakuragi is a pretty unique protagonist for a sports series. While most main characters in sports manga are usually fans of the sport they participate in, Sakuragi does not initially like basketball. He’s only trying to join the basketball club because the girl he likes, Haruko Akagi, told him he’d be good at it. As a result, Sakuragi’s time at the club is spent early on deceiving himself on the field, as he struggles to learn the basics and lacks respect for the rules of the game.

As the series continues, Sakuragi not only starts to get better at basketball, but he also starts to learn to like it. That in turn comes with more respect for the series, which is starting to change his perspective on the game. As he grows, Sakuragi begins to lose some of his former arrogance and realizes his responsibility to be a member of the team. Sakuragi’s growth and progression throughout the series is one of the most compelling parts of the series Slam Dunk and one of the biggest reasons why the series is still so beloved today.

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