Much more than just an adaptation of a famous manga, a great animated basketball movie
One of the fascinating things about slam dunk concerns its graphic and thematic evolution, almost mental in fact: at the start, it is a shonen (manga for young boys) all the more classic, with a hero-loser who takes up basketball to flirt with girls and discovers that he is a genius at this sport. But, in six years of publication, from 1990 to 1996, the line of its creator, the great Takehiko Inoue, sailed towards something more and more realistic, more and more abstract, until becoming a draft, a sketch, in short a work entirely turned towards the search for the ideally pure artistic gesture. Inevitably, it is a quest doomed to failure (as expressed by the monumental Vagabond, Inoue’s next series recounting the life of swordsman Musashi, begun in 1998 and still unfinished), but really, what does it matter! And if The First Slam Dunk nevertheless represents a sort of culmination of Inoue’s quest (who directs the film), it absolutely does not require having read the entire comic strip (and even less having seen the four spin-off films released in 94-95) and proves to be just as much an artistic manifesto on this search for the true gesture as a truly insane basketball film. Everything is played out during a crucial high school basketball game, between teams of gifted players, each with their own style – we find the archetypes of shonen : the rebellious genius, the dark handsome, the sturdy… Thanks to (often overwhelming) flashbacks, the film shatters these archetypes, until all that remains is movement, gesture. And the emotion.
By Takehiko Inoue and Yasuyuki Ebara. Duration 2h04. Released July 26, 2023