Popular basketball manga and anime series Slam Dunk is finally made its international big-screen debut.

The Slam Dunk franchise has been on hiatus for 26 years. Instead of creating more volumes to continue the manga or a new season for the anime, the franchise’s creator, Takehiko Inoue went ahead and released The First Slam Dunk movie instead.

Despite the long wait, passionate Slam Dunk fans are lining up in cinemas around the world for the international release of the movie.

After debuting in Japan before Christmas last year, the animated movie took the top spot at the Japanese box office, grossing over US$9.5 million in its first two days in theaters.

Produced by Toei Animation and directed by Takehiko Inoue and Yasuyuki Ebara, The First Slam Dunk movie continues the story of the Shohoku basketball team as they make their inter-high tournament run.

Warning: Major spoilers if you have yet to watch The First Slam Dunk movie, read the manga, or watched the anime.

Against all odds, Ryota Miyagi’s basketball career is still going strong: The First Slam Dunk movie ending explained

Ryota Miyagi from The First Slam Dunk movie
Credit: Toei Animation

If you managed to catch the highly anticipated movie in the cinema, you know there is a lot to unpack. 

The film has an epilogue and end-credit scenes that seem self-explanatory for fans who have just watched the movie. However, these scenes skipped some pivotal events from the manga which it was adapted from.

After Shohoku’s incredible comeback win against Sannoh High during the inter-high tournament, the movie skips forward a few years later.

In the epilogue, Sannoh’s ace, Eiji Sawakita, is shown to be playing in America. It was a foregone conclusion that Eiji would continue his basketball career since he was seen as Japan’s number-one high school player at the time, and the best point guard in the inter-high tournament.

However, to the surprise of viewers, and to tie up Ryota’s character development that was explored in the film, Shohoku’s speedster also made it overseas as a college player.

Throughout the series, Ryota was always overlooked because of his short stature as a basketball player. He was often put up against rival school’s star players like Shoyo High School’s Kenji Fujima or Kainan University’s Maki Shinichi.

In the movie, various characters talk about how Ryota isn’t able to stack up even against his older brother, Sota, who was tall and exceptionally talented as a basketball player. However, Ryota’s never-give-up attitude and love for basketball earned him the respect of higher-ranked players in the tournament.

Basketball fans will know it is extremely difficult to get an athletic scholarship or to make it into a college program in America. These opportunities are reserved for top-ranked players from accomplished schools.

The final scene showed that Ryota was able to beat the odds and became a starting player for an American college team, the same way Eiji was.

The First Slam Dunk movie
Credit: Toei Animation

In the series, Ryota is best known for his quickness and incredible ball-handling skills. However, in the short sequel to the Slam Dunk manga, 10 Days After, Ryota continued to develop his skills on and off of the court.

After the inter-high tournament, Ryota took over the team captain position from Takenori Akagi after the latter graduated. Haruko Akagi, who by then had become Shohoku’s assistant manager, recounted that Ryota was even stricter than her brother as captain.

Ryota dedicated himself to becoming a good leader, which could have made him a more appealing player for college schools in America.

The end credit scene also showed the Miyagi family had come to terms with Sota’s sudden death. Throughout the movie, the loss of Sota caused a rift between Ryota and his mom, which they overcame after Shohoku defeated Sannoh. Their home now has pictures of Sota in remembrance of their late family member.

Find out The First Slam Dunk movie’s release dates in your country.

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