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Hoop Days Review

hoop_days021
Genres: Sports Drama Romance All
Series' Year of Release: 2003
Number of Episodes: 26
Review Date: 8-4-2009
Review Language: Dub
Review DVD Region: R4 Available in Australia
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

Hoop Days centers around the Mizuho high school basketball team. The boy’s team was disbanded after an incident involving one of the players. Now with the arrival of a champion player, Kazuhiko Aikawa who unexpectedly transfers to the school, the boys have a shot at reforming and going for glory in the interschool championship.

hoop_days044Hoop Days or Dear Boys is based on the manga series Dear Boys which has been going for decades. In fact Wikipedia credits both forms of the series with popularizing basketball in Japan. That’s high praise and I can certainly see why. Hoop Days doesn’t just focus on basketball, it also delves into the relationships of its players which particularly involve the Mizuho girl’s basketball team.

hoop_days029As someone who used to play basketball I can vouch for its sport authenticity. They use a full range of basketball tactics and strategies to try and beat their opponents: full court pressure, fake outs, fade away shots, dunks, box ones etc. It comes together to make the action really fun and I got into a lot. I was cheering Mizuho and Aikawa on as they jammed the ring in their opponent’s faces. It’s definitely got that basketball smack talk going and you’ll often hear people laying down the challenge. That’s basketball, American style.

hoop_days008 The Mizuho boy’s team consists of five players: Aikawa, Fujiwara, Ishii, Miura and Dobashi. The story gravitates around Aikawa and Fujiwara as the two stars of the team; Aikawa is cheery and energetic while Fujiwara is brooding and angsty to begin with. I would have liked to have seen more of the secondary characters. The girl’s team which focuses on Mai and Mitsumi get some air time and are the love interests for Aikawa and Fujiwara. The romance side of the show is handled extremely well and has a subtlety to it. It’s done better than most romantic comedies. The story generally focuses on the team trying to improve themselves and their team work. It keeps at that until about the last third of the series where it loses focus and spends way too much time on other teams in the competition. There’s about three episodes spent on the Yokohama team who I could care less about. They play a terrible style of basketball, there’s next to no introduction as it suddenly cuts to them, and compared to everyone else they’re losers. Apart from that I highly enjoyed the series but the ending left me gutted and/or angry.

hoop_days028The series’ animation is somewhat dated and cheap at times. Instead of smoothly animating a player moving they time lapse a couple of frames. The basketball, backboard and ring are depicted using 3D CGI but this only happens when the players take a shot. The rest of the time, such as when players are dribbling, its 2D and hand drawn. The character designs are kind of pointy which I found a bit jarring coming off Le Chevalier D’Eon. I also found the green highlights in Aikawa’s hair and Fujiwara’s freaky looking shoulders to be distracting. The music is a standout feature of the series and comprises a large number of high energy eurodance songs which are great for free flowing, action orientated basketball. However, and this is strange for me to say considering I love that type of music, it’s beaten by the show’s own music. Its driving guttural guitar which sounds fantastic and Nittoku Inoue has done a brilliant job composing it. My favourites are the Dear Girl’s Theme, Dear Boy’s Theme, and Formation No. 5. The OP is Sound of Bounce by Da Pump and the ED is Baller by Chris. Both are hip-hop numbers and are alright; it’s not really my thing.

Hoop Days is a series that blends the action and tactics of basketball with the dramas of a high school basketball team. The action side of things is extremely engaging and is enhanced wonderful by brilliant music. And the story is better than your average shounen style must-get-stronger series. The characters for one thing are likeable and the romance scenes are extremely well done. While it does drift in the last third of the series I strongly recommend Hoop Days to anyone, especially if they have an interest in basketball.

   Excellent
 
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