For a show that I’ve never actually watched before, SLAM DUNK’s conjuring several levels of nostalgia.
My first encounter with this franchise was way back when I was growing up in Singapore. My barber had copies of the manga right next to volumes of OLD MASTER Q in the waiting area. I remember flipping through the pages and having no idea what the story was because the text was in Mandarin (or maybe Cantonese. I wouldn’t have known the difference.) I remember wondering what the reasoning and appeal was for doing a comic about sports. Most of all, I remember all the gross hairs that were peppered on every page.
A second level of nostalgia lies in the rendering of the actual animation. I can practically smell the plastic packaging and other assorted semi-anti-septic odors that would be floating around the department stores stocking the VHS or laser disc of this in the 90s. I don’t know why anime of this era triggers such strong olfactory memories, but it does.
Finally, the subject matter of this episode just makes me think of all the time I spent in rec leagues and basketball camps throughout middle school. At the time, the experiences weren’t too pleasant, actually. I was overweight. I had trouble keeping up. I got picked on a lot. Somehow, I only think of the simplicity of those times, now, though. Back when a day could be concerned with playing knock-out, eating cheap pizza and learning my fun-damentals.
I’ve digressed so much because this is such a simple show. And it’s so fun because of that. I’ve found that these long-running shows have the best first episodes (as you’d expect) and this is no exception. It’s really one of the best high school shows I’ve watched so far, because the humor’s simply funny, the character drama’s simply relatable and the whole frame work of b-ball rivalries provides some simple conflict.
I feel like there's some pun to be found in this guy needing to use some zone defense to get out of the friend zone with that girl, though...
Watch this episode, "Birth of a Basketball Genius?!” below and decide for yourself.