Can a comic book help bring basketball to many generations? The answer is “Yes” to Slam Dunk’s case.
Since the series was released in 1990, in 2010, Inoue Takehiko has been awarded a compliment by the Japan Basketball Association for publicizing the sport throughout Japan. In the world, a whole generation of 8x and 9x young people must admit that they come to basketball because of Slam Dunk.
Not everyone knows Slam Dunk has a very high status in society. It is in the Top 10 best-selling manga of all time, even though it has only 31 episodes at the time of its release within 6 years. Slam Dunk’s English translation is also ranked in the Top 100 comics according to votes from prestigious American comic magazines.
After that, author Inoue Takehiko also released two more series of stories to take the theme of basketball is Buzzer Beater and Real but did not achieve much success with Slam Dunk. By 2012, Slam Dunk sold more than 120 million copies in Japan alone, becoming a phenomenon in the sports comic genre.
Inoue Takehiko began to have the idea of drawing Slam Dunk long since he loved basketball from high school. When the first pages of the series were completed, the author was surprised when he received many letters from readers saying they started playing this sport from manga. Previously, Inoue Takehiko’s editor with the old thought also told him that “basketball is a ban in this world (manga)”, because it is hard to believe that the series with such content can sell well.
In the first episode of Slam Dunk, readers can see that the main content still follows the storytelling of the school and the stories of student gangs with basketball-only jewelry as a background.
From those letters, Inoue Takehiko has more faith to decide that he will dig deeper into basketball matches. Thereby, it is possible to convey the feelings or thoughts of the players whenever they win or as they fail. With this series, Inoue wants readers to feel the zeal and increase their love for basketball.
The author’s memories also affect Slam Dunk. At first, he went to basketball just because he wanted to get married with his girlfriends, but later he became addicted. This is also the story of the main character Hanamichi Sakuragi, who plays basketball only for the girl he likes, then gradually becomes deeply attached.
This is shown in a very moving image at the end of the story. When Hanamichi was unconscious after an injury, he took the role of his girlfriend and said: “I really like it. This time I’m telling the truth”. Many people mistakenly believe this is a confession to Haruko but actually is Hanamichi’s confession to basketball.