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The distinct storytelling mark of anime on sports

There’s a certain kind of allure to anime’s approach to sports. While, for example, basketball aficionados are used to the quick pace and blazingly fast plays of an actual NBA game, anime takes the slow route by overanalyzing every particular movement and moment in a game of b-ball.

Aside from the obvious art style, it’s this type of storytelling that makes it distinctly anime. Most Western animation films like those from studio giants Disney and DreamWorks follow the meat-and-potatoes movie template (i.e. largely linear story progression). On the other hand, anime is steeped in the grand tradition of manga, whose storytelling is characterized by the so-called “decompression” method. It’s a comic book storytelling method that requires multiple panels and pages to achieve a close, in-depth study of things that range from something as simple as the setting, to something more complex like the aforementioned sports movements. In effect, something that in real time would only take around a few seconds is “decompressed” and stretched out to take anywhere between two pages to the whole length of the comic book itself; or in anime’s case, anywhere from a few minutes to the whole runtime of an episode.

Arguably, this kind of storytelling is appreciated more so by sports enthusiasts. These are the folks who are drawn in by the kind of thoroughly detailedSlamdunk analyses in Betfair betting pages to guess game outcomes. To these people, games are more than just highlight plays, final scores, and MVPs. Games are about how team chemistry affects overall performance; how one player’s particular skills contribute to the team effort despite him not being a marquee player; and even how the weather in a particular city affects the efficiency of a visiting team.

For many anime fans, the show that probably exemplifies this the most is the ‘90s classic Slam Dunk. The show was marked by a lot of these decompressed moments. Miyagi throwing an awesome assist? Let Ayako explain the intricacies of the move. Kogure building up his confidence in a finals game? Pause that moment to delve into how his relationship with Kawata boosted his morale over the years. Sakuragi taking his first successful jump shot? Cue long flashback sequence of how his game improved over the course of the series.

Decompressed moments are part and parcel of manga and anime narrative; an extension of the highly detail-oriented nature of the Japanese people. As far as storytelling goes, it definitely enriches the texture significantly.