I never really imagined that I'd get hook on a sports-anime! But this one is really good!
The plot revolves around the different competitions of the players of Shohoku and their rivals. Some add-ons during their everyday lives are also injected.
Captain Akagi always dreamed of being part of the nationals competition ever since high school. But Shohoku was a weak team...that was the case until the comeback of Ryota and Mitsui and the addition of Rukawa and Hanamichi to the team...
Akagi: Height: 197cm (4)
Akagi is the captain of Shohoku. He is a born leader. Skill-wise, he may not be as good as Sendoh and Maki but through hardwork and determination, he has reached his excellent basketball performance level.
Akagi may seem big and scary but he can be very caring at times, especially to his younger sister Haruko. The majority addresses him as GORI. After all, he has the ability to perform the extra-ordinary GORI-DUNK!
Kogure Megane: Height: 178cm (5)
Megane is Shohoku's Vice captain. Although he is an average player, he shares the same dedication as Akagi. He acts as the peacemaker of the team. He is the most gentle member of the team. I really admire his strong team spirit!
Ryota Miyagi: Height: 168cm (7)
Although not as gigantic as his fellow-team mates, Ryota is small but terrible! One of the best point guards, he is said to be Shohoku's next Captain (that's right, Ryota is the next captain, not Hanamichi).
Of all the great players of Shohoku, I feel that Ryota gets the least credit. He was often overshadowed by his other team mates due to his smaller body frame but he isn't any less better in terms of skill and performance. Miyagi blushes every time he sees Ayako (Aya Chan) smile at him....nice Ryota! –Aya-chan....
Hanamichi Sakuragi: Height: 189.2 cm (10)
The 'Tensai' Sakuragi joined Shohoku's basketball team by coincidence. He was gravely heart-broken after being consecutively dumped for 50 times. In the midst of his soberness came Haruko-chan who was a fan of basketball. In order to get Haruko's attention, Hanamichi joined the team.
Hanamichi was a total beginner but sure is a fast learner (empty brain learns fast). He never fails to amuse the audience doing spectacular unexpected movements. Though always too wordy, Hanamichi succeeds in bringing back the 'winning spirit' to the once 'weak' Shohoku team.
Is it me or does Hanamichi's character also remind you of Roger Kwok's character in Tian Xia di Yi (Cheng She Fei) - the unexpected hero...
Kaede Rukawa : Height: 187cm (11)
If I am to say my personal point of view, I must say that from all the players of the different teams, I think Rukawa is the most skillful player. Although cold and cocky, he always know what to do when in a match.
Rukawa and Sakuragi never seem to get along at all. Can't blame him actually since Hanamichi was responsible for agitating him first. (I remember how foolish Hanamichi was when he threw numerous balls at Rukawa just because he can't accept it that Rukawa plays better than him). Often times, they are found rumbling together. But on some occasions, I feel that their arguments are something that sort of keeps each other going on...they are like each other's 'awakening' pill.
Hisashi Mitsui : Height: 184cm (14)
Mitsui is an astounding transformation of a Thug to a Sportsman! His unforgettable past led him to have a personal feud with his junior, Ryota. With his long hair and the absence of his 2 front teeth (thanks to Ryota), he looked like a full-fledged gangster! But after fixing his teeth and trimming his hair, he looked like an absolute sportsman! Being a former MVP, Mitsui is an excellent shooter! Unfortunately, since he stopped playing for quite some time, his stamina became weak.
Mitsui is my personal favorite! He shoots, he defenses, he passes, he scores! He has the most personality in my honest opinion. He can be dramatic yet funny at the same time. I really enjoyed watching his 'attachment' with Coach Anzai.
Shohoku's manager. Ayako is Ryota's classmate and love interest. I actually prefer Ayako tons better than Haruko. She can be tomboyish with a cap and her whistle, oh and plus her fan to whack the team members during training but she can also be beautiful with her long curls. Geez, Ryota has better taste than Hanamichi).
Akagi's sister. She introduced Hanamichi to the team. She is Rukawa's fan, though I can't say she is his Number 1 fan since the three chorus girls were so much more die-hard!
Coach Anzai: Huhuhu...a coach like no other. He is not the typical strict type of coach. He acts as the team's emotional support. No wonder he is called the White Pig Demon...
Ryonan is my favorite team after Shohoku. Players worth mentioning in Ryonan are the marvelous Sendoh, Captain Uozomi, and the sensitive Fukuda.
The number 1 team for 17 consecutive years. Sometimes I feel that Kainan is too puffy. But then again, they really are something! Players worth mentioning are Maki and Jin. But my favorite is Miyamasu Sempai.
The first reputable team that Shohoku defeated. Players worth mentioning are Kenji Fujima (who is also the captain of the team as well) and Hanagata. I prefer Kenji as a coach than a player though.
-When Mr.Judo man was recruiting Hanamichi to the Judo Club but he refused, saying, I am a basketball player!
-When Mitsui saw Coach Anzai for the first time in years and he shed tears saying : I want to play..(plus, that song playing made it all the more dramatic!)
-When Mitsui placed coach Anzai's picture during the match because he cant perform without coach anzai...and gori got mad saying: coach is not yet dead yet.
-When Miyagi and Hanamichi became friends after empathizing with each other's experiences.
-When Hanamichi cried a river when they lost the match with Kainan and Gori told him that there is still hope for the next match.
-When Hanamichi was blaming himself for losing the match with Kainan and indirectly, Rukawa , feeling also guilty, put some sense into him.
-Tetsuo getting beaten and Youhei and the gang comes to the rescue so that Mitsui and Hanamichi can proceed to the game.
-When Megane told Mitsui to grow up and stop living in the past.
-When Shohoku won against Ryonan and they hurried back to tell Anzai and they carried and tossed him in the air!
-When hanamichi's friends were earning money 'the hard way' just to support and watch Hanamichi in Hiroshima
-When Hanamichi's pal got attracted to this hot babe who turned out to be...AYAKO!
-The Group Study review by Gori
-The final practice match
So far, the only part that bored me was when Aida Yoyoi (Hikoichi's sister) was struggling in her reporting career...it just did not seem as interesting...
**Though the ending seemed to be a cliff-hanger, it was like a recap of what all of them have been through. It was really emotional (at least for me) because you can actually feel that they have matured a lot and that they have made a unique bond with each other through the game.
The songs are awesome too! Even the instrumentals suit the scenes perfectly! My personal favourite: sekai ga oware made wa by Wands.
Interesting facts: Once, I was googling Hanamichi Sakuragi and I found out that there was a real person with the same name and the same skills in basketball. But his personality seemed colder and more alone. He would have been one of Japan's greatest players but too bad he died at an early age due to an accident when he was on his way to go to his father to the hospital.