Real, Volume 8

Real may be seinen manga, but it definitely requires a mature readership. As mentioned above, and unlike Inoue’s widely successful Slam Dunk, the drama of moving forward in life colors the frames of every page.

Story and Art by Takehiko Inoue. $12.99. Distributor: Viz Media

Much like its title, Real is about just that: the gravity of reality. Here, Takehiko Inoue returns to his well-known court of basketball. But instead of the usual hype and trash talkin’ that follows effortless skill, we find the challenges behind wheelchair basketball. Turning away from pure court-action, Inoue narrows in on three developing characters: Nomiya Tomomi, the high school dropout; Togawa Kiyoharu, the now disabled ex-sprinter; and Takahashi Hisanobu, a recent paraplegic who was once the captain of his high school’s basketball team.

Real 8

In volume 8, we continue to witness Inoue’s play with writing and character development. Hisanobu must now deal with both relating to his family and the painful task of physical therapy, even though he can’t feel himself from the waist down. And Nomiya, though he has full control of his arms and legs, can’t find any over his life. Employment is bleak for a high school dropout. Under the weight of such heavy reality, one must seek out and lean upon the pleasure of life. For these two men, it’s basketball.

Real

Real

Real

may be seinen manga, but it definitely requires a mature readership. As mentioned above, and unlike Inoue’s widely successful Slam Dunk, the drama of moving forward in life colors the frames of every page. Believable, painful, real: these are the proper adjectives to describe this work. Now don’t get me wrong when I say it’s not for everyone. I like Real. And my enjoyment stems not from simply Inoue’s courage to step away from obvious repetition, but even more from his experiment with pure writing and character design. After all, it doesn’t require brilliance to recognize that lots of recent manga, like film, revel in the visual alone. Real is indeed manga, but it also leans toward the novel itself.

If you like Inoue’s previous work, as well as sport’s series and drama in general, pick up a copy and have a read. You’ll happily find a story to get lost in.      

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