In Japan, it’s a legend. Everywhere in the world, a master in his field. Takehiko Inoue, born in 1967 in Okuchi, passionate about drawing and basketball (high school student, he was captain of his team) from his adolescence, was only 23 years old when he created slam dunk, a manga that follows the loves, rivalries, friendships – the daily life in short – of a group of young basketball players during their high school years. Pre-published in 1990 in the weekly magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump (known for his series like dragonball, Bleach, Demon Slayer), Inoue’s comic strip met with immediate success.
From then on, the adventures of the students gave rise to other episodes that the magazine continued to publish until 1996. They were then compiled into 31 volumes which sold 120 million copies in Japan. Then will be quickly adapted and broadcast as an animated series for television from 1993 to 1996. In Japan, a country where baseball is a national sport, slam dunk exploded the number of registrations in basketball clubs. The manga will continue to be read and watched from generation to generation, becoming a real social phenomenon.
Twenty-six years after the end of his series, Takehiko Inoue has finally been convinced to release a version for the cinema. Better, he agreed to be the director, thus signing his first feature film, The First Slam Dunkreleased in Japan in December 2020 (where it is still in theaters), soon to be screened in France (July 26), and in around a hundred countries.
Presented out of competition, in an Event session, at the Annecy Animation Festival, the film stages a thrilling basketball game for almost two hours in which each gesture, each movement and each impact of the ball on the body is transformed, through the animation, into a physical and sensory experience. While in the background the life, the weaknesses, the motivations of his young hero, Ryota and other players. As well as the way in which they will acquire the sense of the collective, despite their difference in background and character.
No need to enjoy The First Slam Dunk to be passionate about sport or even manga. The bet is therefore successful since it is the author’s will. As the producer, Toshiyuki Matsui, explains to us. “From the start, Inoue felt it was important not to make a film just for fans of Slam Dunk. He was 20 years old when he created his manga. He was very young. He has since taken a step back and wanted to add to the film elements that he himself has experienced since, such as the sentimental evolution of his heroes, their relationship to the family, to other players. The film thus takes on another dimension. »
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