Slam Dunk (スラムダンク ,Suramu Danku?, officially romanized SLAM DUNK in Japan) is a sports-themed manga series written by Takehiko Inoue about a basketball team from Shōhoku High School. It was first serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump in Japan from 1990 to 1996. Inoue later used basketball as a central theme in two subsequent manga titles: Buzzer Beater and Real.
Slam Dunk centers around Hanamichi Sakuragi, who starts as a deliquent outcast, becoming the leader of a gang. Hanamichi, being very unpopular with girls, has been rejected by them fifty times. Yet, he finds out that Haruko Akagi is the girl of his dreams, and is happy when she’s not scared of him like all the other girls he has asked out.
Haruko Akagi, who recognizes Hanamichi’s athleticism, introduces him to the Shohoku basketball team. Hanamichi was reluctant to join the team at first because he had no previous background in any sports and thought that basketball was a game for losers (also because the fiftieth girl rejected him for a basketball player). Sakuragi, despite his immaturity and hot temper, proves to be a natural athlete with potential and joins the team in order to impress Haruko and prove that he is worthy of her. Kaede Rukawa — Sakuragi’s bitter rival (both on the basketball court and love, even when Rukawa doesn’t acknowledge Haruko’s crush on him), the star rookie and a “girl magnet” – joins the team at the same time. Hisashi Mitsui, an ex-junior high school MVP, and Ryota Miyagi , a short but fast player, both also rejoin the team and together these four struggle to complete team captain Takenori Akagi’s dream of making Shohoku the national champion. Together, these misfits gain publicity and the once little known Shohoku basketball team becomes an all-star contender in Japan.
 Aiwa High School
Aiwa is ranked 4th in Japan and was favored to win the Aichi Interhigh Tournament, but was upset by Meihou. Shohoku faces them in the third round of the National Championship and loses to them because they were exhausted from the Sannoh match. The team’s captain, shooting guard Dai Moroboshi, is known as the “Star of Aichi”. He was injured by Meihou’s Hiroshi Morishige during the Aichi Interhigh finals, and despite returning to the game later, could not push Aiwa over the top because of Meihou’s insurmountable lead. Some consider Moroboshi as the only one who can beat Sannoh’s Eiji Sawakita in a one-on-one, though Moroboshi himself does not think so.
 Daiei High School
Daiei (Daiei Gakuen) is the lead representative for Osaka in the National Championship, having beaten Toyotama. Their captain, point forward Atsushi Tsuchiya, is also the top player for the team, and proved key in their victory.
 Jousei High School
Jousei is ranked 8th in Japan, and the main representative for the Shizuoka Prefecture. Their coach is a former pupil of Coach Anzai’s, and prior to the start of the National Championship, Shohoku (minus Sakuragi, who undergoes a weeklong training on how to shoot from Coach Anzai) visits them for a weeklong training camp that includes three matches, resulting in a win, loss, and tie for Shohoku. They are knocked out of the National Championship in the second round by Meihou, in a match where Morishige alone eclipses the whole opposite team, leaving the team captain, Mikoshiba, greatly depressed.
 Kainan University Affiliated High School
Main article: Kainan University Affiliated High School basketball team
 Meihou High School
Meihou is a surprise newcomer to the National Championship, knocking off the favorite Aiwa to qualify as the lead representative for Aichi. They are spearheaded by a massive first year student, Hiroshi Morishige (so massive, he can take Sakuragi down with a mere nudge – given by Sakuragi himself). This gives Sakuragi the impression that Hiroshi is perhaps the strongest player he has ever met. Meihou beat Jousei in the second round of the National Championship. Hiroshi is actually a newcomer (like Sakuragi) in the game of basketball. He only started playing the second summer of middle school (which is less than a year). After a match many reporters interviewed him and asked his opinion about Sannoh’s strength, but he simply answers “Sannoh? What’s that?” Many were shocked and thought he was looking down on Sannoh but actually he really has no idea who they really are.
While watching the match between Shohoku and Sannoh, his coach (who he usually refers to as “uncle”) tells him that if Sannoh continues to develop Mikio Kawata’s skills in basketball, after a year or so he may rival Hiroshi. But Hiroshi shows more interest in Sakuragi.
 Miuradai High School
Miuradai faces Shohoku in the first round of the Interhigh Tournament. They do well at first, because Takenori Akagi is the only one of the five starters to actually start the game, the other four being temporarily benched by Coach Anzai for fighting. The tide turns against Miuradai once the other four starters enter the court and Shohoku is restored to full strength. Miuradai is quite a self-confident team, whose members – particularly their captain, Kengo Murasame – only respect Kainan as an opponent.
One character who only appears in the anime, Tetsuya Naito, is enrolled in the ranks of Miuradai as a substitute Power forward and a brute physical force – he used to play for the Miuradai rugby team, but he was dissatisfied with the lack of challenge and dropped out after Murasame approached him. Naito’s inexperience as a basketball player is quickly exposed by Rukawa though, and Shohoku go on to win decisively. In the end, Naito ends up knocked out after Sakuragi (who was pissed off after Naito blocked him several times successfully) tries to use a slam dunk, yet ends up bashing him on the head by mistake.
 Ryonan High School
Main article: Ryonan High School basketball team
 Ryokofu High School
Ryokofu appears in the third OVA, inviting Shohoku for a friendly match right after their defeat from Kainan. They are a relatively new team, but were a force to be feared as their ranks included star players from junior high. Their half-American captain and ace Michael Okita was sponsored by their school to train in America, where he was also scouted by the NBA. Also in their ranks is Katsumi Ichiro, who also went to Takishi Junior High with Shohoku’s Mitsui. He eventually became captain after Mitsui left.
 Sannoh Industry Affiliated High School
Main article: Sannoh Industry Affiliated High School basketball team
 Shohoku High School
Main article: Shohoku High School basketball team
 Shoyo High School
Main article: Shoyo High School basketball team
 Takezato High School
Takezato was seeded first in its respective bracket in the Kanagawa Interhigh Tournament and makes the final four. However, they prove to be the weakest team present, losing to Shohoku, Ryonan, and Kainan and finishing fourth.
 Takezono High School
Takezono is the team for which Tatsumasa Oda, the boy for whom Sakuragi suffered his 50th rejection, plays. Unluckily, their last match in the Kanagawa Tournament is against the reigning champion Kainan, who beats them handily with a reserve team, the only starters to play being Jin and Muto.
Sakuragi, who at first mistakenly thought that Oda was mistreating his girlfriend Yoko Shimamura, wanted Takezono to win so he could face Oda again (Shohoku and Takezono face each other in the first Slam Dunk OVA, in a friendly match). Oda was injured, but played all the same. However, none of these events are mentioned in the manga. That Oda is playing in Takezono or that Shohoku played them are also not mentioned.
 Toyotama High School
Toyotama is the runner-up team from Osaka in the National Championship, having lost to Daiei. They are an A ranked team and almost all of their starters are third years.
Shohoku faces them in the first round of the National Championship, where Toyotama show a talent for getting away with violent, flagrant fouls, not to mention the constant teasing from the crowd, that constantly yells, swears and threatens the opposite team. They have mastered the run and gun style of play and divide their effort between 80% offense and 20% defense. Their main weakness was the replacement of their coach,’Kitano , who nurtured the team’s offensive philosophy and is widely respected by the players. His replacement, on the other hand, Jiei’, emphasizes defensive basketball, which the players have difficulty adjusting to. Because of this, they prefer to play their own way than listening to their new coach.
The Toyotama match only appears in the manga. One of the reserve players, Teruo Okawa, is a friend of Hikoichi Aida’s from junior high. Toyotama has an ace in the form of Minori Kishimoto, who earns not only Hikoichi’s enmity for Toyotama after he dismisses Sendoh’s abilities as a player (Hikoichi in retribution gives Shohoku information on Toyotama), but also from Sakuragi, who spent the first half under intense pressure and could not perform well enough, being substituted for by Yasuda early in the match. Their other ace and captain is Tsuyoshi Minami (who Sakuragi calls “chick-face” after the bird), who is the most aggressive of the players. He is known as the “Ace Killer”, and lives up to this nickname by hitting Rukawa in the face with his elbow as he once did to Kenji Fujima from Shoyo, leaving him with a black eye for the whole second half of the game. Minami however makes up for it later, as the night before the match against Sannoh, he gives Rukawa an ointment to help his eye heal and warns him about Sawakita. The other players include Mitsuaki Iwata (center), Kyohei Yajima (shooting guard) and Daijiro Itakura (point guard).
 Tsukubu High School
Tsukubu used to be a high-leaguer team before the rise of Shohoku. They were the fourth team Shohoku faced in the Prefectural Tournament and, after a good start, they let their defense be breached by Miyagi’s fast play and lost concentration, leading to a rather shameful loss.
Tsukubu is featured prominently in the second OVA (which portrays the tournament match), where their star rookie, Koichiro Nango (who is actually a center player despite his youth, something quite uncommon in local basketball), falls in love with Haruko and becomes a bitter rival to Sakuragi, to the point of betting with him: whoever wins the game will have the right to ask Haruko out. Their coach, Kazuma Kawasaki, was a former pupil of Anzai, while their captain, Tomokazu Godai, attended Kogure and Akagi’s former junior high and is on friendly terms with them, but is kicked out of the game after losing his temper.
 Other characters
 Haruko Akagi
(赤木晴子 Akagi Haruko)
Year: 1st Year
Voice Actors: Akiko Hiramatsu (Japan) Martha McIsaac (USA)
Haruko is Takenori’s younger sister and Sakuragi’s love interest. Sweet and with a captivating personality, she is always around to cheer on the players, especially her brother Takenori, who is extremely protective of her and taught her the basics of basketball, and Sakuragi, whom she considers her best friend. Haruko often appears at matches together with Sakuragi’s cohorts and her two best friends, Fujii and Matsui. She, like most girls in Shohoku, only has eyes for Rukawa, although he never reciprocates her feelings and, later in the anime, she acknowledges that he will not love her the way she wants him to and tries to let go of her crush, however unsuccessfully.
Haruko was responsible for uncovering Sakuragi’s athletic talent after seeing him try to dunk a ball at her request – she was impressed by the height of his jump and considered him good enough to join the team. Sakuragi always listens to her due to his deep affection for her. They have gone on some (what Sakuragi considers) non-official dates and have occasionally trained together.
Despite her emotional denseness and sweetness, Haruko is a pretty good student, helping Akagi tutor Sakuragi and the other three starters when they had to retake some tests they had failed or be disqualified from the National Tournament, and is not afraid to stand up for others when needed. She confronted Sakuragi when she mistakenly thought that he had attacked Rukawa, and she also defended him many times from his most rabid fangirls (one of them even knocked her to the ground in the anime series).
At the end of the manga series, Haruko becomes the second manager of basketball team.
 Sakuragi’s Gang
(a.k.a The Sakuragi Legion 桜木軍団 Sakuragi Gundan)
Yohei Mito (水戸洋平 Mito Yōhei) Chuichirou Noma
(野間忠一郎 Noma Chūichirō) Yuji Ohkusu
(大楠雄二 Ōkusu Yūji) Nozomi Takamiya
(高宮望 Takamiya Nozomi)
Year: 1st Year Year: 1st Year Year: 1st Year Year: 1st Year
Voice Actor: Toshiyuki Morikawa Voice Actor: Yūji Mikimoto Voice Actor: Nobutoshi Canna Voice Actor: Kōzō Shioya
Sakuragi’s best friend from childhood. He and the rest of his gang are always there to help him in whatever he needs, although Yohei is the only one able to help with actual advice. He also appears to be the best fighter out of the four aside from Sakuragi himself, having beat Mitsui badly all on his own during the gym fight. Three other students who often hang around Sakuragi and Yohei, who they also attended Wakoh Junior High with. Despite their loyalty and willingness at offering a hand whenever convenient, they often tease Sakuragi, for which they receive headbutts on their foreheads. They also take advantage of him by frequently placing bets on whether his endeavors will succeed, and even charge admission to see Sakuragi’s new hairstyle. In spite of all this, along with Yohei they are among Sakuragi’s most loyal supporters, going to all his games to cheer him on, and helping him out when he had to make 20,000 shots in one week to prepare for the National Championships. According to Yohei, they are known as “The Three Stooges of Wakoh Junior High”.
 Tatsuhiko Aota
(青田龍彦 Aota Tatsuhiko)
Year: 3rd Year
Voice Actors: Hideyuki Umezu
The captain of the Shohoku judo team, Tatsuhiko is a childhood friend of the Akagi siblings, having argued with Takenori over which sport was better, judo or basketball, since their youth. This grudge continued until their present age, where their feud is over which team will be National Champion first. He once tried to make Sakuragi join the judo team because he considered his fighting skills exceptional, and to achieve this, “bribed” him with some photos of Haruko when she was younger. Still, Sakuragi refused, saying simply, “because I’m a basketball player” (actually because he knew he would actually be closer to Haruko if he stayed with the basketball team). But Tatsuhiko does not give up on trying once in a while. He is rather loyal to Takenori when the need arises, cheering him on when he is outplayed and hard-pressed during the second Ryonan match.
Despite his inability to physically coerce Sakuragi into joining the judo team, Tatsuhiko has proven that he is skilled, as he is the sole member of the judo team to qualify for the National Championships in judo. However unlike Takenori, he has to beg for the chance to retake the exams that he failed or else face academic disqualification – much like the other four starters of the basketball team. It is also worth noting that Tatsuhiko has had a crush on Haruko since they were young. She calls him “Ta-chan” instead of by his last name, which irritates Sakuragi immensely.
 Norio Hotta
Year: 3rd Year
Voice Actors: Hōchū Ōtsuka
Hotta is the leader of a gang of fellow Third Year students who are the reigning delinquents at Shohoku. Sakuragi catches his attention on the first day of school when he gets into an altercation with two of his cronies, resulting in his issuing a direct challenge to Sakuragi by interrupting one of his classes. Before Sakuragi and his Gang arrive, Hotta and his cronies run into Rukawa on the school roof, who singlehandedly knocks out all four of them.
Hotta is a good friend of Mitsui, and backed him up when he challenged Miyagi to a fight a year ago. He and his friends provide the muscle again after Miyagi returns, and they join Mitsui in his attack on the basketball team. From Kogure’s revelation of Mitsui’s prior history with basketball, Hotta realizes that Mitsui deep down wants to play again, and is persuaded by Sakuragi’s Gang to share the blame with them for attacking the team, getting the team off the hook for fighting. It should be noted that though Hotta and his friends failed to win in fights against Sakuragi’s Gang or even Rukawa, they are portrayed as among the best fighters in Shohoku. Hotta and his cronies later become supporters of the basketball team during the National Championship Tournament (though even they get scared by the aggressiveness of the Toyotama crowd), largely because of their friendship with Mitsui, who they give the epithet Honoo no Otoko (lit. “Flaming Man”).
Voice Actor: Masaharu Sato
Tetsuo is a biker and the only adult member of Mitsui’s gang, which included Norio Hotta and his cronies, in addition to some other delinquent high school students. It would appear that he is the gang leader, although he largely defers to Mitsui when they launch their attack on the Shohoku basketball team. He appears to be in his late 20’s/30s, and is the gang’s most experienced and capable fighter. Tetsuo succeeds in knocking out five Shohoku players, among them Rukawa and Miyagi, but meets his match in Sakuragi.
After Mitsui leaves the gang and rejoins the team, Tetsuo later runs into him after the former is heading home after getting his knee checked. He accepts Mitsui as an athlete, reaffirming the latter’s decision to rejoin the team. Because he refuses to wear a helmet when riding, Tetsuo has to constantly watch out for the police. Tetsuo makes an additional appearance in the anime when on the morning of Shohoku’s match with Shoyo, he is chased and cornered by the non-Shohoku members of his gang, who beat him up in a bid to challenge his leadership. Mitsui comes upon them, but refuses to fight because of the promise he made to Coach Anzai not to fight again. Tetsuo stands up for him, but gets knocked out. However the timely intervention of Sakuragi and his Gang enables the two basketball players to leave the scene, resulting in Tetsuo teaming up with Sakuragi’s Gang to take out Ryu and his cronies.
 Yayoi Aida
(相田弥生 Aida Yayoi)
Voice Actor: Yuko Nagashima
Hikoichi’s older sister, she is a reporter for a weekly basketball magazine. Even though her brother plays for Ryonan, she is mostly designated to cover Shohoku matches, in which she is always impressesed about Shohoku players’ performances, as they mostly play stronger opponents like Kainan or Sannoh. In the National Championship though, she gets to watch Sannoh’s exercise training routines. She is almost always accompanied by a bubbly trainee called Nakamura, who does the driving when they need to go from gym to gym even though he drives slowly, as he had just gotten his driving license.She also has a huge crush on Ryonan ace Sendoh.
 Fujii and Matsui
(藤井) and (松井)
Year: 1st Year
Voice Actor: Etsuko Nishimoto, Tomomi Sugimoto and Machiko Toyoshima (Fujii), Hiromi Nishikawa (Matsui)
Haruko’s classmates and friends from Junior High. They often appear together with or without her. They do not trust Sakuragi too much at first, but try their best to deal with him for Haruko’s sake, and gradually become more fond of him. Fujii is shy, soft-spoken and has short hair, while Matsui has her hair tied in pigtails, has thick lips and is rather sassy at times. Their first names are not known.
Voice Actor: Nobuhiko Kazama
Ryu is one of the non-Shohoku members of Mitsui’s gang and the only other non-Shohoku member besides Tetsuo given the most depth. During Mitsui’s attack on the basketball team, he is matched up with Rukawa, giving him a bloody head wound with a broken mop head, but in turn gets knocked out by Rukawa.
In the anime, Ryu challenges Tetsuo’s leadership by recruiting new members and targeting him after Mitsui rejoins the basketball team. He takes advantage of Mitsui’s reluctance to fight to attempt to break his hands, but is interrupted by Sakuragi’s appearance. To his surprise, Sakuragi thanks him for beating up Rukawa. The arrival of Sakuragi’s Gang enables Mitsui and Sakuragi to break away and head to the 3rd round match (which they are late for), and results in the trouncing of Ryu and all his gang members.
 Dr. T
Voiced by: Yoku Shioya
Dr. T is the avatar of Takehiko Inoue in the story. Every once in a while he appears in a short segment called Dr. T no Basukettobooru no Nyuumon (“Dr. T’s Introduction to Basketball” or, more loosely speaking, “Basketball for Dummies”), where he breaks the fourth wall by explaining to the reader (or the viewer in the case of the anime) the rules of basketball, usually when Sakuragi makes a mistake for not knowing the rules, or a new basketball concept is introduced. He appears once in the manga as an unnamed “manga artist” outside the Kanagawa Interhigh Tournament arena just before Shohoku faces Ryonan in the league round.
 Kawai Mari
Year: 2nd Year
Voice Actor: Nanae Sumitomo (Japan)
A good friend of Ayako, Mari is a member of the Shohoku school newspaper and a skilled reporter, always followed by two of her clubmates. Sassy and outspoken, she likes to tease Ayako off-court, and like other girls from the school she has a huge crush on Rukawa, even when she considered him a rude brat at first.
 The owner of Chieko Sports
Voice Actor: Hideyuki Umezu (when Sakuragi buys the Air Jordan Series VI), Hirohiko Kakegawa (when Sakuragi is offered the Air Jordan Series I)
The unnamed owner of Chieko Sports also runs the store, which specializes in basketball gear. He collects Air Jordan basketball shoes, which he doesn’t mind wearing himself. Haruko takes Sakuragi here to buy his first pair of basketball shoes. Sakuragi intimidates the owner into selling him a pair of his Air Jordan Series VI shoes that he’s wearing (because they are both currently the same shoe size) for 30 yen, justifying the discount on the grounds that they’re used.
Sakuragi and Haruko return to Chieko Sports a second time when Sakuragi wears out this pair of shoes following Shohoku’s defeat of Ryonan in the Kanagawa National Championship Qualifying Tournament and Sakuragi’s 20,000-shot training. The owner reveals that he was a member of the Minowa basketball team, which Kainan defeated in the Tournament 17 years ago to start their championship run. Every morning he wakes up regretting not being able to bring his team to victory, and has since then followed the League Round of the tournament closely. This is how he discovers that Sakuragi is on the Shohoku team, which he claims has been the only team since Minowa that made Kainan struggle for their win. He also remembers Akagi because of a run-in he had with him during the tournament matches two years prior because he couldn’t get Shohoku’s name straight. This time around, he willingly gives Sakuragi a pair of his Air Jordan Series I shoes that are black and red (Shohoku’s colors), in return receiving 100 yen for them, after having turned down a diehard shoe collector’s offer to buy them.
 Rukawa’s Fan Club
Voice Actors: Nanae Sumitomo, Hiromi Nishikawa, Tomomi Sugimoto, Sara Nakayama et al.
Rukawa’s Fan Club originally starts out as a trio of unnamed female Shohoku students who watch the team practice and go nuts whenever Rukawa scores a basket. They then start to attend Shohoku’s matches, during which they dress up as cheerleaders and act as Rukawa’s very loud rooting section. The fan club later grows in numbers during the League Round of the Kanagawa Interhigh Tournament (though, in the anime, the three original members pictured on the left appear isolated from the other girls). Although Rukawa is aware of them, he only acknowledges their presence a few times, which does not seem to bother the members of his fan club one bit.