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The First Slam Dunk film image; anime basketball team

The First Slam Dunk

Beyond Ghibli

© I.T. PLANNING, INC. | © 2022 THE FIRST SLAM DUNK Film Partners

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Taking place entirely during a high school national championship basketball game, interrupted by flashbacks which give us the background to the players, Takehiko Inoue’s film is a dazzling sports movie, and another demonstration of just how versatile and accomplished the anime scene can be. Employing “3DCG”, which uses CG animation to approximate the look of traditional 2D, the film takes you onto and into the court with such dexterity and insight, you’ll wish all basketball games were captured this way. The action is effectively modulated by the surprisingly subtle flashback scenes, which is probably why the film is rated 100% Fresh on reviews aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

A great basketball movie because it understands what is great about basketball… Bringing all of the kinetic, over-the-top style of Japanese anime to bear on the granular, technical athleticism of high school ball, The First Slam Dunk is a one-of-a-kind sports drama… You’d expect a movie with that title to have some pretty spectacular jams, and you’d be right. What surprised and delighted this N.B.A. obsessive is that it dazzles just as much with passes and rebounding. This feels like real basketball… Expertly staged and beautifully rendered using a combination of computer-generated imagery and traditional hand-drawn animation, it’s often so spectacular that I am eager to watch it again.

Calum Marsh, New York Times

Like the title says: a total slam dunk. The on-court activity is choreographed so thrillingly (and with such clarity) that even basketball neophytes will get caught up in the action. Inoue captures the way a ball or player on their way to the hoop can seem to defy gravity and hang briefly in the air with ecstatic, indulgent slow motion. He also focuses on little details which would be invisible in a real game, like the way mountainous center Akagi positions his foot so he can spin around the player guarding him for a layup. I found myself wishing I could watch a real game directed by Inoue, with such careful attention to detail and an acute sense of drama.

Esther Rosenfield, Little White Lies


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Takehiko Inoue

Country of Origin





In Japanese with English subtitles


Open to youth!

124 min

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Takehiko Inoue


Shunsuke Nakamura


Ryûichi Takita

Original Music

Satoshi Takebe

Art Director

Kazuo Ogura

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