© Plaion Pictures

The First Slam Dunk
Japan 2022

Opening 7 Dec 2023

Directed by: Takehiko Inoue
Writing credits: Takehiko Inoue
Principal actors: Shugo Nakamura, Jun Kasama, Shinichiro Kamio

Ryota, Hanamichi, Rukawa, Akagi, and Mitsui form a basketball team from Shohoku Industry High School. Wearing the numbers 4, 7, 10, 11, and 14, they are playing against Sannon Kogyo High School basketball players who make up the current top school team. During the game, we have short interruptions when the film flashes back to share history. We learn that Ryota is a new kid at the school, coming from Okinawa. His older brother Sota was already a masterful basketball player, but sadly, he died. Ryota wishes to follow Sota’s lead. He wears Sota’s red basketball armband during games (as well as his own black band), and sorts Sota’s T-shirts, shoes, and other memorabilia. His mother mourns not only the death of her oldest son, but also the death of her husband.

This animated film is so amazing, simply because it could have not been easy for Takehiko Inoue to animate the game of basketball. Luckily, he could call upon his experience with his animated manga series, 1990-1996 of the same story. About 80% of the film's 124 minutes is the one game eventually presenting a winner; the rest shows former events. The team’s coach does not have an easy job. Also, Hanamichi is the only Japanese player with red hair. The term “slam dunk” describes a player jumping up level to the basket and placing the ball into it by hand, contrary to throwing the ball into the basket from below. The First Slam Dunk won several prizes including the 2023 Best Animated Film Award of the Japanese Academy. (Becky Tan)

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