Astro Boy, Black Jack, Doraemon, Dragonball, Slam Dunk, Touch, Fist of the North Star, Detective Conan, One Piece, Golgo 13, Oishinbo & Kochikame – the twelve 100 million manga sellers. Comi Press has a translated article from ACGTalk about these landmark titles.
Based on the similarly insanely popular manga by Takehiko Inoue, the series follows Hanamachi Sakuragi, a hoodlum who finds himself in his school baseketball team. A team of misfits aiming for the national championship.
Sakuragi in some ways feels like the prototype of Onizuka from GTO. An arrogant hoodlum, bristling with unwarranted confidence, he still manages to be a charming lead character. At the start of the series he hates baseketball, as the fiftieth girl he asked out turned him down for a baseketball player. However he falls for Haruko Akagi, a girl with an “interest” in tall boys. Various miscommunication leads him to clash with the actual focus of Haruko’s crush, Rukawa, a cold loner who is basically Sakuragi’s opposite (Sakuragi runs with a gang of similarly loud losers like himself). As Rukawa has joined the basketball team, Sakuragi decides to join the team himself, without realising the team captain is Haruko’s brother. That’s roughly the starting arc.
Now, of course discussing Slam Dunk and it’s success, it would be remiss of me not to mention one factor in it’s success.
Remember when we were talking about Prince of Tennis and Shonen Jump’s deliberate courting of a female audience with an overactive (dirty) imagination? Well, Slam Dunk got there first. But arguably not deliberately. Anyway, try and find a Slam Dunk fansite out there that isn’t yaoi or slash fanfic based. For a show that has only had a brief, incomplete, english language release, it sure has created a lot hormone fueled low art.
Toei tried to release Slam Dunk on DVD in the states. But they fucked it up. Apparantly the transfer was fine, but the actual effort made on the production on the DVDs was poor. Dubtitles with closed caption titles included, no chapter breaks, missing next episode previews and the inability to “play all”. Alongside Air Master, these series were supposed to be Toei’s big entrance into the US market and they blew it big time.