What I truly admire most about this anime is how each character deals with the challenges life throws at them—something we all can learn from, too

By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Saii Shah

Do you ever go back to one of the shows you used to watch as a kid and realize how relatable it actually is to your present life? 

I’ve been binge watching “Slam Dunk” over the past week (quarantine made me do it) and noticed how the characters’ storylines are very much applicable to what I go through on a daily basis. Yes, I may not be a basketball player like them but I picked up a thing or two from the 21 episodes I’ve binged so far.

 

For those who aren’t familiar, “Slam Dunk” is a manga turned anime by Takehiko Inoue which originally aired in Japan from 1993 to 1996. Thanks to local dubbing, the show was able to attract Filipinos (many of whom are basketball enthusiasts).

It’s a story about a basketball team trying to win a championship. Most of its episodes focus on protagonist Hanamichi Sakuragi, who was dumped by 50 girls in his first year in Shohoku High. Being the persistent red-haired jock he is, Sakuragi eventually falls in love with his dream girl Haruko Akagi, who also happens to be a huge basketball fan. Sakuragi, who had no idea how to dribble a ball, pursued the sport to charm his dream girl and eventually realized he has the potential to be the best player on the court. 

What I truly admire most about this anime is how each character deals with the challenges life throws at them. They come from different backgrounds so there’s multiple stories within the story. It also portrays how basketball or even sports in general can be such a huge metaphor for life and that’s evident by journeying with Shohoku High (an underdog basketball team). Okay, I’ll stop with the spoilers now—but here’s a thing or two that’s really worth following while watching the basketball manga turned anime. 

 

Sakuragi’s determination 

Whether on relationships or basketball, Sakuragi has always been eager to prove himself. It may have taken him time to realize that a rookie doesn’t earn veteran playing minutes right away—unless they’re really good. So, he found a way to become the superstar or what his coach calls the “secret weapon.” Throughout the first few episodes, Sakuragi’s persistent and gritty personality shows how far it can really take him—something that’s always worth doing in life. When times get hard especially with numerous rejections, Sakuragi shows that victory is always possible for those who refuse to stop fighting. 

 

Akagi Takenori’s leadership 

Akagi Takenori is the kind of leader I want, really. Serious and disciplined, Akagi’s character in “Slam Dunk” shows how exceptional leadership can go a long way. Not only does it bring out the best in everyone but it also motivates the team to go for the championship. He wasn’t pleased with Sakuragi’s potential in the first few episodes but eventually gives him credit after seeing his determination. Akagi’s leadership style is proof that empowering people to accomplish their goals instead of their own selfish intentions goes a long way.

Haruko Takenori’s love for her craft

I love Haruko for obvious reasons—yay for women in sports! Although the first few episodes didn’t show her full potential in basketball, Haruko was still a monumental part of the Shohoku High team. Although I wish the anime showed more clips of Haruko playing the sport she loves. Known also as the younger sister of Akagi, she was the one who encouraged Sakuragi to first pick up a basketball and saw the potential in him before anyone else did. Through her character, I saw how much of an impact a simple gesture can make.

Ayako’s hope despite adversity

Ayako is Shohoku’s strong-willed good-natured team manager . Her job is to sharpen the team’s abilities and serve as some sort of assistant coach. Ayako was also the reason why Sakuragi picked up the basics in basketball as she was always guiding and motivating him. She’s the voice that Shohoku High constantly needs to endure tough games and is one of the reasons why they triumph despite adversity.