Shohoku High School basketball team


Shohoku High School basketball team

The Shohoku High School basketball team is a fictional Japanese high school basketball team featured in the anime and manga series "Slam Dunk" from Kanagawa Prefecture. The main characters Hanamichi Sakuragi and Kaede Rukawa as well the primary supporting characters Takenori Akagi, Ryota Miyagi, and Hisashi Mitsui are on this team. The team's colors are red and black at home and white and red when away.

Shohoku has for two years running been considered of no consequence at the prefecutural level and largely a one-man team because of the presence of team captain Takenori Akagi. It is not until Akagi's third year that things begin to turn around for Shohoku and they start to become a team to be reckoned with. They are the only non-seeded team to make it to the final four of the Kanagawa Interhigh Tournament, their sole loss in the tournament being against Kainan. Despite being the runner-up representative for Kanagawa, they are ranked as a C class team and placed into a tough tournament bracket, facing Toyotama and the reigning National Champion Sannoh. They favor a run and gun style of play and have a wide breadth of offensive capabilities. However, their major weakness is their weak bench and as a result must rely completely on their starting lineup.

Players

Takenori Akagi

(赤木剛憲 "Akagi Takenori"):Year: 3rd Year:Height/Weight: 197 cm, 90 kg:Jersey Number: #4:Position: Center :Birthday: May 10:Voice Actors: Kiyoyuki Yanada

Takenori Akagi is the captain of the Shohoku basketball team and Haruko's older brother. Despite at first not thinking too much of Sakuragi (who addresses him as "Gori" for gorilla due to his immense physical presence), he actually realizes Sakuragi's potential as a basketball player. Serious and disciplined, Akagi's dream is to lead Shohoku to the national championship. His determination is shown in the match against Kainan, where he played on despite a serious injury to his ankle. Akagi considers Uozumi of Ryonan to be his biggest rival, though their rivalry is not antagonistic; indeed, there is respect that borders on friendship.

Akagi differs from the other starters in two respects. First, he is the most academically talented out of all them and is considered a model student. After the loss to Aiwa knocks Shohoku out of the Nationals, Akagi leaves the team along with Kogure to study for the college entrance exams. In contrast, the other four had to beg their teacher to be given the chance to retake some exams they had flunked; they would otherwise have been disqualified from playing in the Nationals for having failed too many classes. Second, Akagi is the only starter not to have gotten into an actual fight, although he has used physical force against his own players (most notably Sakuragi) to keep them in line. He is the only other character besides Rukawa able to take one of Sakuragi's trademark headbutts without being knocked out and the only other character who has had Sakuragi inadvertently dunk a ball on his head (Murasame of Miuradai was the second, in the manga; in the anime, the second one to be dunked on the head is Naito, also from Miuradai).

Regarded as the best center in the Kanagawa prefecture, Akagi plays as a fairly typical center, using his height and power to score close to the basket. He also has a reputation for being a virtually unbeatable defender. As captain of the team, he keeps discipline among his players during matches. Akagi met his match during the game against Sannoh, in the form of Masashi Kawata, considered one of the best centers at the high school level. Initially intimidated when Kawata outplayed him, he regained his confidence thanks to Uozumi's encouragement and led his team to victory.

Kentaro Ishii, Kaoru Sasaoka, and Toki Kuwata

(石井健太朗 "Ishii Kentarō"), (佐々岡智 "Sasaoka Kaoru"), (桑田登紀 "Kuwata Toki"):Year: 1st Year:Height/Weight: 163 cm/50 kg (Kuwata), 170 cm, 172 cm (Ishii, Sasaoka - their weights are unspecified):Jersey Numbers: #12, #13 and #15:Positions: Forward (Ishii, Sasaoka), Guard (Kuwata):Birthdays: January 18 (Ishii), October 13 (Sasaoka), July 28 (Kuwata):Voice Actors: Toshiyuki Morikawa (Kuwata), Shinobu Satouchi/Masaya Onosaka/Hikaru Midorikawa/Yoshiyuki Kono (Sasaoka), Nobutoshi Hayashi (Ishii)None of the these players see any match time, so they largely act as a rooting section for Shohoku. Ishii is the only player other than Kogure on the team who wears glasses.

atoru Kakuta

(角田悟 "Kakuta Satoru"):Year: 2nd Year:Height: 180 cm:Jersey Number: #9:Positions: Center:Birthday: November 4:Voice Actor: Shinobu SatouchiThe tallest second year player. He has been subbed in for Sakuragi on two occasions: in the final minutes of the Shoyo match after Sakuragi fouled out, and briefly during the Sannoh match, when he was matched up against Nobe Masahiro. Nobe succeeded in blocking Kakuta out of his position and exhausting him, even though Kakuta was only on the court for a few minutes.

Kiminobu Kogure

(木暮公延 "Kogure Kiminobu"):Year: 3rd Year:Height/Weight: 178 cm, 62 kg:Jersey Number: #5:Position: Small Forward:Birthday: July 12:Voice Actors: Hideyuki Tanaka Kiminobu Kogure is Shohoku's vice-captain and a good friend to Akagi and Mitsui. He and Akagi are the only two players who have been on the team for all three years - Mitsui left during their first year, while other players quit the team because they found Akagi's training regimen to be too strenuous. Along with Miyagi and Ayako, he always tries to bring out the most of Hanamichi's talent. He is gentle, empathic, and always friendly, and is almost never seen without his glasses on (this is why Sakuragi calls him "Megane-kun" which loosely translates as "glasses-wearing guy"); however, when needed he shows notable willpower and brutal honesty, such as when he barely flinched after being slapped twice and cruelly insulted by the embittered Mitsui during the gym fight.

Despite spending a lot of time on the bench, Kogure brings experience and considerable firepower to the team when he's on the court; he is the player most likely to be subbed in to replace one of the starters. A pretty good shooter and tactician, he hit a crucial three-pointer against Ryonan.

Hisashi Mitsui

(三井寿 "Mitsui Hisashi"):Year: 3rd Year:Height/Weight: 184 cm, 70 kg:Jersey Number: #14:Position: Shooting Guard :Birthday: May 22:Voice Actors: Ryoutarou OkiayuBefore joining Shohoku, Mitsui Hisashi was an MVP for Takeishi Junior High. Despite having opportunities to join more prestigious high schools like Ryonan, he choose to go to Shohoku because of Coach Anzai; Anzai had given him the courage to win in the Junior High tournament by encouraging him during the last seconds of the match. However, an injury to his left knee in a training session interrupted his basketball career. An imprudent early return to the basketball court reinjured the knee more severely, leading to a basketball hiatus of over a year. Although he eventually healed, he was embittered by his exclusion from the court, and quit basketball to become the leader of a gang. His gang picked on Miyagi during his first year, and during a fight that ensued Miyagi beat Mitsui senseless before taking a beating himself.

Afterwards, Mitsui attempted to ruin the basketball team by instigating them into fighting with his gang, as the team would have been banned from competition for fighting. In the end, Sakuragi's own gang - Yohei, Takamiya, Ohkusu and Noma - voluntarily took the blame for the fight, and Mitsui was filled with remorse when he saw Anzai again. He rejoined the team and vowed never to fight again.

Mitsui is best known on the team as a three-point specialist, though his skills extend to other areas; during a practice match, he once managed to shut down Sakuragi, playing center. His defensive ability completely shut down Fukuda's scoring abilities. His three-pointers helped Shohoku catch up when they were 12 points down against Shoyo, and again when the team was 20 points down against Sannoh in the National Championships. His greatest weakness, though, is his lack of stamina due to his long break from playing basketball. Thus, in the latter halves of games, he has not always been as reliable - he was completely worn out in the game against Shoyo, missed a potential game-winning shot against Kainan, and collapsed on-court during the game against Ryonan.

Ryota Miyagi

(宮城リョータ "Miyagi Ryōta"):Year: 2nd Year:Height/Weight: 168 cm, 59 kg:Jersey Number: #7:Position: Point Guard :Birthday: July 31:Voice Actors: Yoku Shioya

Ryota Miyagi is Sakuragi's closest friend on the team. After an initial misunderstanding that caused conflict between them (he was fighting Mitsui when Sakuragi and Ayako came around, and he thought she was dating him), both found comradeship in the fact that they had both been unlucky in love, although Miyagi, having only been rejected 10 times, still falls short of Sakuragi's record who was rejected 50 times. Like Sakuragi, Miyagi is motivated to play by his love for a girl: his best friend and classmate Ayako, the manager of the team, whom he refers to as "Aya-chan". He has been known to pose for Ayako during matches. Off-court, Miyagi has a reputation for being a bad boy. He was hospitalized for a while after his fight against Mitsui's gang.

Miyagi is small for a basketball player, but makes up for it with incredible speed, skills, and court awareness. His skills are typical of a point guard: strong passing and dribbling, as well as an understanding of the game that allows him to be a floor leader. He also shares a similar level of arrogance with Sakuragi, claiming to be the number one point guard in the prefecture, though popular opinion among characters in the series ranks him just behind Maki of Kainan and Fujima of Shoyo. In the series he is often pitted against taller point guards (Toyotama's Daijiro Itakura, for example, spent nearly the whole match picking on his height as an attempt to sap his focus away) but he is able to beat them with his incredible speed. Miyagi becomes the captain of the team after Akagi and Kogure leave the team.

Kaede Rukawa

(流川楓 "Rukawa Kaede"):Year: 1st Year:Height/Weight: 187 cm, 75 kg:Jersey Number: #11:Position: Small Forward :Birthday: January 1:Voice Actors: Hikaru Midorikawa Rukawa Kaede is, in many ways, the opposite of Sakuragi - attractive to girls, skilled at basketball, and very cold and unfeeling. The only traits they share are that they are not academically inclined and good fighters. He regards Sakuragi as an idiot, and is not shy about calling him an idiot to his face - actually, he knows Sakuragi can put his talents to a better use, but is ashamed to see the immaturity with which he deals with things. His hobby is sleeping, and is usually seen asleep whenever he's not on the court; he can even ride his bike while asleep often crashing with objects when doing so. Waking Rukawa from a nap is considered unforgivable, since he will almost automatically beat up the culprit. Unsurprisingly, he has also been in his fair share of off-court fights, but can hold his own. Rukawa's goal is to be the best high school player in Japan, and he considers Sendoh of Ryonan to be his greatest rival.

Rukawa is extremely good at basketball, and possesses a wide range of skills to complement his height, athleticism and drive to win. Despite being merely a first-year high school player, he is the undisputed ace of Shohoku's team. In the Kanagawa Interhigh Tournament, he was named one of the top five players, the only first year player so honored. He has managed to change the course of many games, such as when he single-handedly brought Shohoku back from a double-digit deficit against Kainan. He even managed to continue in the game against Toyotama despite losing the vision in one eye due to an intentional foul and could take free throws with his eyes closed. However, his style was criticized as being too selfish, and he sometimes comes into conflict with his teammates for various reasons; this was one of the reasons why Coach Anzai refused to give him his blessing when Rukawa told him that he intended to go to the USA, and told him to become the best in Japan before he even thought of it. When he was outplayed by Sawakita during the match against Sannoh Technical, though, he realized that he had to change his style and pass the ball. It was his pass that led to Hanamichi's buzzer-beating shot, winning the match. Rukawa is subsequently named a member of the All-Japan basketball team.

Hanamichi Sakuragi

(桜木花道 "Sakuragi Hanamichi"):Year: 1st Year:Height/Weight: 189 cm, 83 kg:Jersey Number: #10:Position: Power Forward :Birthday: April 1:Voice Actors: Takeshi Kusao The protagonist. At the beginning of the series, Sakuragi was a slacker, good for nothing other than fighting. He is the leader of the feared "Sakuragi Legion", which consists of his four friends Mito, Noma, Ohkusu and Takamiya. Sakuragi's quest for love was nothing but humiliating. He was always trying to ask girls out, but was rejected constantly, the 50th rejection occurring at the start of the series. He then met Haruko Akagi, a lovely basketball fangirl, whom he fell in love with immediately. This and Haruko's encouragement led to him to join the Shohoku basketball team. However, as a complete beginner, he was not able to keep up with the rest of the team at first despite his physical attributes (great height, athleticism, stamina, speed and leaping ability). He regards himself as a genius though, with self-confidence that borders on arrogance. His most recognizable trait is his red hair, though he shaves his head as reparation for an error that led to a loss in the interhigh tournament against Kainan.

Sakuragi has a habit of making fun of other players by calling them things other than their names. He calls Akagi "gorilla" (causing other people to mimic - much to Akagi's irritation), Uozumi "Boss monkey", Kiyota "Wild monkey", Maki "old man", Mashiro "totem pole", Masashi "gori ball" and Miyamasu "alien". Despite this the only one doing the same thing to Sakuragi is Kiyota who calls him "red haired monkey".

At first, Sakuragi was known for his poor basketball skills as a beginner and in his first few official matches, he fouled out every game. However, his basketball skills advanced throughout the series. First he developed his basic skills, such as dribbling and layups. Then, trained by Akagi, he became a formidable rebounder, with his rebounding becoming his claim to fame throughout the latter half of the series. He also is seen more than once defining the match for Shohoku in the last seconds, for instance, by dunking a ball that Akagi missed in the interhigh tournament match with Ryonan. His jump shooting was then developed by Coach Anzai, who had him make 20,000 shots in a week. He hit a buzzer-beating jump shot to win the match against Sannoh. However, he also injured his back during the match against Sannoh, and underwent rehabilitation after Shohoku's subsequent loss to Aiwa Academy.

In spite of the setbacks he has had to face, Sakuragi displays a great deal of tenacity and determination that carry him through and help reciprocate for his other failings, both on and off the court. Although his love for Haruko and rivalry with Rukawa are the main driving forces motivating him to succeed in basketball, his injury during the Sannoh match makes him realize that he has actually come to love the game, leading him to give his all for his team and bring them victory.

Tetsushi Shiozaki

(潮崎哲士 "Shiozaki Tetsushi"):Year: 2nd Year:Height/Weight: 170 cm/62 kg:Jersey Number: #8:Positions: Guard:Birthdays: September 23:Voice Actors: Nobutoshi Hayashi

Was picked by Coach Anzai as a starter (with Yasuda and Kogure) in the practice match against Ryonan, as Miyagi and Mitsui had not yet returned to the team and Sakuragi was not yet a starter.

Yasuharu Yasuda

(安田靖春 "Yasuda Yasuharu"):Year: 2nd Year:Height/Weight: 165 cm/57 kg:Jersey Number: #6:Positions Point Guard:Birthdays March 28:Voice Actors: Masaya OnosakaPerhaps the most significant of the minor Shohoku players. Although Hanamichi picks on him, he is no pushover, as demonstrated when he stood up to Mitsui and Tetsuo when they were attempting to get the Shohoku team banned from competition for fighting. He is Ryota's close friend, and thanks to his mild and calm character he can manage to calm things down when the tension on the court starts to heat up. One example of this is when Anzai sent Yasuda into the match against Toyotama in the place of Sakuragi (who is recognized as the one with the shortest temper in the team), after all five starters were infuriated by Toyotama's provocative tactics.

Non-players

Mitsuyoshi Anzai

(安西光義 "Anzai Mitsuyoshi"):Voice Actors: Tomomichi Nishimura The coach of the Shohoku High basketball team, and one of the best ones in Japan. Even the coaches of other teams call him "Anzai-sensei" with respect. His calm and collected attitude contrasts with the temper he had in the past, when he was nicknameed "White-Haired Devil" as a demanding college coach.

A talented player, Ryuji Yazawa, trained under him and was eyed with high regard by Anzai. However, Yazawa was unhappy about Anzai's tough training for him (especially the repetitive and strenuous basic technique training), and against the Coach's wish, left Japan to play in the USA, where he thought he would have better opportunities to show his talent. 5 years passed without any news, other than an unaddressed video tape showing Yazawa playing in a team, whose players had virtually no concepts of teamwork. One day Anzai learned from the press that Yazawa died in a high-speed head-on car collision, reportedly under drug influence. While visiting Yazawa's grave, Yazawa's mother gave Anzai a letter written 4 years prior, which Yazawa never had the courage to post back. In the letter, Yazawa expressed profound regret about his rebellious decision to leave, and the depression from his experience in the unsupportive American college basketball career. Anzai grieved deeply for the loss of Yazawa and resigned from college basketball coaching ever since. This also changed Anzai's former strict attitude to his now mild temper, for which he is now known as the "White-Haired Buddha."

Sakuragi always calls Coach Anzai "Oyaji" (old man) and has the habit of jiggling his fat when hyped, which makes the others - Mitsui in particular - mad at him, as this is considered disrespectful. Anzai, however, appears to tolerate this and has not reprimanded Sakuragi for his behavior. However, Anzai did punish the four players (Mitsui, Miyagi, Sakuragi and Rukawa) involved in the fight against Mitsui's gang, by initially benching them during the first interhigh tournament match against Miuradai High School.

However behind such an impassible demeanor is a brilliant strategist, who always knows how to turn the tide of a match for his team. Anzai, like Haruko Akagi, realized Sakuragi's potential early on and decided to make him a starter even though some of his basketball skills were not yet par. Recognizing that shooting was Sakuragi's weakness, he made him make 20,000 baskets in a week to get ready for the national tournament. Anzai is also very charismatic and able to inspire his players to greater heights, as evidenced before the match against Sannoh, where he managed to bring down the insecurity within Miyagi, Mitsui and, to a lesser extent, Sakuragi. Although they were directly recruited by Coach Moichi Taoka of Ryonan, both Mitsui and Ryota turned him down, citing Anzai's presence at Shohoku as the primary factor. Mitsui respects Anzai the most; he once put a picture of Anzai on the bench and prayed to it when Anzai was unable to come to the inter-high Shohoku-Ryonan match due to heart attack. Akagi and Sakuragi found this irritating, as it is considered unlucky.

Ayako

(彩子):Year: 2nd Year:Voice Actors: Eriko HaraThe manager of the team and object of Ryota's affections. Strong-willed, somewhat tomboyish and good-natured, at first Ayako does not seem to reciprocate Ryota's feelings for her, which she knows of, and will not until the end of the series. She is directly responsible for sharpening Hanamichi's abilities for real matches, by training him in the basics, such as ball possession and dribbling. Her disciplinary style is midway between Akagi and Anzai - while not as soft as the latter, she is also not as hard as the former. Her last name is unknown. Curiously, Hanamichi treats her almost as respectfully as Anzai, even though she is in a lower position in the team; possibly because of her gender, since he is generally more respectful towards females. Ryota refers to her as "Aya-chan" because of his attraction to her, and she responds by calling him "Ryota" rather than by his surname. Ayako always calls Sakuragi by his full name. During the National Championships, the relationship between Ayako and Ryota has developed to the point where he can confide in her about his uncertainties about the upcoming Sannoh match when he is alone with her, and during the match Ayako motivates him by writing the words "Number 1 Guard" on his hand to keep him focused and determined.


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