‘The First Slam Dunk’: Great Match of Champions


Ever since ‘Nightwatch: Infinite Train’ became a worldwide phenomenon, Japanese animation has managed to have several titles become international sensations, such as ‘Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie’, ‘Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero’, ‘One Piece Film Red’ or the recent ‘Suzume’ (although this has been preceded by own hits such as ‘Your Name’ or ‘El tiempo with you’). That barrier that Japanese productions were only for a niche audience has been broken, with the classic exceptions of Studio Ghibli films or those directed by Mamoru Hosoda or Makoto Shinkai.

The First Slam Dunk

The last phenomenon was an outstanding debt that Toei had with the public, that of giving a dignified end to ‘Slam Dunk’one of the most mythical animation series of the 90s. With 101 episodes broadcast between 1993 and 1996 and four films, the factory left the adaptation of Takehiko Inoue’s manga unfinished (it adapted only 22 of the 31 volumes that the graphic novel has ). His return was not only expected, but is becoming a phenomenon that has managed to transcend its apparently target audience. It’s not just a shot of nostalgia, but an innovative proposal with its own spirit that has become one of the most innovative titles in Japanese animation by its own right.

‘The First Slam Dunk’ focuses its plot on the basketball game with which the manga closed, in which Shohoku must face Sannoh, a team that is recognized as unbeatable. Despite the fact that Hanamichi Sakuragi was the main protagonist of the series, the film chooses to focus on Ryota Miyagi, another Shohoku player, with whom he delves into his sad past and how his experiences have toughened him in life and they have made him who he is.

The First Slam Dunk

That decisive match is the central axis, although the film knows how to keep the expectation until the end, thanks to a narrative that knows how to combine the analepsis in such a way that they are introduced at key moments in which the film manages not to miss a beat. Despite being the final leg of the manga adaptation, ‘The First Slam Dunk’ is designed to captivate the viewer in general, both unconditional fans and the most profane, being one of its greatest virtues.

An extraordinary film with a unique animation

But if its plot is superbly executed, which makes ‘The First Slam Dunk’ a a masterpiece is the masterful and virtuoso combination of CGI and traditional animation. Here you can see the care with which Takehiko Inoue himself, who has taken the reins of this project both in the direction and in the script and storyboard, wanted to bring the virtuosity of the traditional to the most sophisticated of the digital and technological . Their combination is exquisite, as if the colors came to life in a way rarely seen.

The First Slam Dunk

Their innovation, being daring, It can be compared to those of the two installments of ‘Spider-Man’ by Miles Morales. It achieves that nostalgic effect, but its commitment to sequences in which the best of CGI is seen disguised as 2D animation elevates it, brings it to today’s world. Added to this is a fast-paced narrative, extraordinary care for the characters and even an exquisite soundtrack, the best composed by Satoshi Takebe since the melancholic ‘Poppy Hill’.

Inoue not only manages to take the sting out of seeing his work fully adapted, he also creates a unique feature film, in which you can see all the love and passion he has had for the original manga. A perfect balance between yesterday and today, in one of the most fascinating films of current Japanese animation, which also achieves a privileged place in that subgenre called sports cinema. ‘The First Slam Dunk’ is located in the playoffs of essential titles.


The best: An innovative animation with a unique virtuosity.

Worst: To think that it is a mere act of nostalgia or that it will not be suitable for strangers to the series.

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