Real vol. 14

Well… This took its time in arriving.  It’s still a worthwhile read, even though this volume represents what they call in the sports world a “rebuilding year.”  After a well-done epilogue/victory lap for “Scorpion” Shiratori’s story, the focus shifts back to our three protagonists.  Kiyohara is working better with his team with the hope that, after dominating their regional tournament, they’ll go all the way to the nationals.  Takahashi has also joined the same team and is learning that he needs to work on developing speed as a wheelchair basketball player before he can truly compete.  Nomiya is, well, still hanging around after failing to be picked up by the team he tried out for several volumes back.

After being ignored for a good long while, it’s just good to see Nomiya finally get some decent page-time in this manga.  His arc has always been interesting to observe as this guy is the only one of the three protagonists without any physical impairments — all of his problems are in his head.  Now he has to shake himself out of this mental funk and get his character arc back on track.  It’s a development that mirrors the meta aspect of how the character has fallen into disuse for the past few volumes.

Kiyohara and Takahashi’s arcs don’t have the same issue, even though the latter’s remains the more compelling as we see him struggle to become the player he knows he can be.  That’s not the best part about this volume, however.  After fourteen volumes, it finally feels like all three of their arcs are coming together in such a way that mangaka Takehiko Inoue isn’t telling three different stories in one series.  Of course, most of what’s done with the characters here is simply getting them into place for future stories.  Lots of setup, very little payoff, though that’s probably to be expected coming off of the excitement from vol. 13.  It does sell me on the fact that good things are coming for these characters down the line.  I’ll be sticking around for that, no matter how long I’ll have to wait.

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