25 August, 2023
10 September
30 Keisei Tominaga (JPN), 12 Yuta Watanabe (JPN)
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The inspiration continues for SLAM DUNK and AKATSUKI JAPAN

OKINAWA (Japan) -  Influence through the inspiration of imagination is powerful. A clear example of that is Japan basketball.

Without a doubt, there is an entire generation of kids in Japan who were inspired by the Japanese Manga SLAM DUNK either to play basketball or become a fan of the game. Even though the manga is already over 30 years old, the influence of the story told through the panels by Takehiko Inoue continues to be strong and is recognized worldwide.

Takehiko Inoue's SLAM DUNK story has continued to be told through anime and film as well. Most recently, the story was told in a theatrical animated film, THE FIRST SLAM DUNK, directed and written by Takehiko Inoue himself and was in theaters in Japan for 272 days since December 3 to August 31. It drew an audience of 10,882,776 viewers and the film recorded a total of 15,733,715,060 yen (approximately 107,614,800 USD) in box-office revenue, ranking 13th in the all-time box-office revenue ranking.

At the end of the theatrical run, a full-page ad spread with a new visual appeared in the morning edition of the Asahi Shimbun on September 1, the following day.


The new visual depicted the protagonist of the film, Ryota Miyagi, walking with basketball shoes in his hand, accompanied by text reading: "Let's go. The summer I never backed down. The summer I didn't want to lose. The summer we kept running. Even after the summer is over, they are still waiting for me. The court is waiting for us. Now, let's practice.”

While the ad has been well-received as a sign that the SLAM DUNK story continues to live on, basketball and SLAM DUNK fans were also quick to make a connection with AKATSUKI JAPAN'srun to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Japan clinched the spot outright in their game against Cape Verde on September 2, completing a fairy tale ending to what has been an emotional run through the World Cup that has featured two big come-from-behind wins.

"I think that this 'Let's go' is not only about the movie, but also about Paris. Please make it to Paris!" said a fan.

And make it to Paris 2024 Japan did.

Considering the nature of what is at stake, the flow of the games, and how Japan have been able to make their spirited comeback rallies in front of their home fans, connections between direct panels from the manga and moments in AKATSUKI JAPAN games have also been made.

There was celebration between Yuta Watanabe and Keisei Tominaga after the win against Finland that was tied to the iconic celebration between main characters Sakuragi Hanamichi and Rukawa Kaede.


And also the outstanding fourth quarter performance by Makoto Hiejima against Venezuela, which some connected to that of sharpshooting character Mitsui Hasashi.


Takehiko Inoue has already communicated through his visual that the SLAM DUNK story is not yet over. And the story for AKATSUKI JAPAN is far from over as well.


Wherever the two stories go from here, we can all be certain that they will both continue to inspire generations and generations of Japan basketball for the future.