Ryota Miagi (Shugo Nakamura) idolises his older brother Sota, who is Okinawa’s basketball prodigy. He’s devoted to helping his brother practice and train, until one day Sota disappears on a fishing trip and is presumed dead.
Ryota tries to fill his brother’s shoes, even wearing the same number on his basketball jersey, but it seems he’ll always live in Sota’s shadow.
When his barely functioning family move from Okinawa, Ryota continues to train and eventually finds himself playing for the Shohoku High School basketball team. The team has made it to the final of the National Championship where they are playing against the undefeated champions, Sannoh. The team his brother dreamed one day of beating.
Down by over 20 points, Ryota’s team must muster every ounce of courage and resilience and draw on the strength and endurance they don’t even know they have to achieve the impossible and show the world that despite everything that’s been thrown their way, they still have the will to win.
Grief; the loss of a family member; bullying; family breakdown and dysfunction
The First Slam Dunk has some violence. For example:
- Two brothers shove and elbow each other while playing basketball on the court.
- A ball slams into a player’s face.
- Ryota shoves his mother away as she tries to pack up Sota’s things.
- Ryota’s mother slaps him roughly and wrestles him to the ground.
- School bullies punch Ryota behind the school building and tell him that he’s nothing.
- One man says to another in a threatening manner that they want to, ‘take someone out’. The man then rubs his knuckles in a menacing way.
- One character punches another in the head.
- Two players slam down onto the floor, one jumping, soaring and landing on the other.
- One player punches another in the buttocks.
- A man shoves a boy to the ground.
- A character punches a guy in the face.
- A child is punched and beaten on a roof.
- One character head-butts another and then body slams him.
- Four men beat up another character, repeatedly hitting and punching him. Snow begins to fall as he lays, battered and bruised, on the ground.
- Ryota is in a scooter accident and winds up regaining consciousness in a hospital bed, lucky to be alive.
- A player crashes into a table, scattering spectators as he lands. He injures his back in the crash and tries to push past the pain to finish the game despite the debilitating pain.
- A character is punched in the head and nearly cut with a blade.
- A player disrespectfully grabs the chin of an older coach.
There are no sexual references in The First Slam Dunk.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There’s no substance use in The First Slam Dunk.
Nudity and sexual activity
The First Slam Dunk has some nudity and sexual activity – for example, one player grabs the backside of another and it looks like he is going to pull his pants down.
The First Slam Dunk has some product placement – for example, Nike shoes and Bank West.
The First Slam Dunk has some coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The First Slam Dunk is a 3D anime movie by writer-director Takahiko Inoue, based on his popular basketball-themed manga series, Slam Dunk. The movie features frequent flashbacks and moves between different time periods in an effort to paint a more detailed picture of the players, especially Ryota. This might be confusing for some children; and the Japanese language and fast-paced English subtitles are also likely to be challenging for some viewers. The movie is therefore best suited to older teens and Japanese speakers, in particular fans of Manga and basketball.
These are the main messages from The First Slam Dunk:
- The experience of losing can eventually become an asset.
- No matter what happens, what challenges life throws your way or how hopeless things may seem, never give up.
Values in The First Slam Dunk that you could reinforce with your children include persistence, determination, teamwork, perseverance and hard work.
The First Slam Dunk could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like these:
- Fighting or using violence as a way to solve conflict.
- Bottling up emotion and trying to push your pain away.
- Holding on to grief and sadness and refusing to allow others in.