Manga: Harlem Beat

The news I was too excited about that made me miss alighting at the stop to get home: KOE NO KATACHI IS GETTING AN ANIME. WOOHOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I haven’t written about this manga yet, but I’ll do it the day the last chapter is serialised in Japan. Not long now.

So on today’s manga. I had this sudden inspiration to write about this series while glancing at the manga on my bookshelf after just getting home 10 minutes ago. I now have less than an hour to do this. GRAH.

Manga: Harlem Beat 「ハーレム・ビート」 a.k.a Rebound

Harlme Beat vol 1

Harlem Beat vol 1

Harlem Beat is a Shonen, sports manga featuring basketball. Written and illustrated by Nishiyama Yuriko, the series was serialised from 1994 t0 2000 and is complete with a total of 247 chapters. The series contains 29 volumes in Japan. In the U.S., however, the manga goes up to 9 volumes under the name Harlem Beat, while volumes 12+ are published under the title, Rebound. The names of some of the characters are westernised in the English volumes published by Tokyopop.

Naruse Toru has always wanted to be the hero — the centre of attention — but whenever he tried something new, he would always give up, thinking he wasn’t good enough. In high school, he enters the basketball team and as usual, ends up on the bench. His childhood friend, Kusuda Mizuki, introduces him to street basketball. When Toru manages to throw the ball into the hoop in a match against Shu, member of “Three Men” and streetball champion, he realises that he needs the guts to carry through without giving up. Harlem Beat details the struggles of hardworking, devoted Toru, who goes from a benchwarmer to a prominent force to be reckoned with whether in official matches or streetball, along with his friends.

WARNINGNothing. At least not that I remember. Maybe a few panty shots and a little cleavage and bare skin, but that’s it.

This might not be my favourite sports series of all time, that position belongs to Rookies, but this is probably my favourite basketball manga. Although I’ve only read like… 4… I think?

Actually read Harlem Beat when I was 12… that was… many years ago… holy shit! THAT WAS 9 YEARS AGO… Oh wow. This was actually the first basketball manga I was introduced to, even before I started on Slam Dunk. A group of us in the same year were crazy over basketball and would play every day during recess for 30 minutes, instead of getting food. Harlem Beat and Slam Dunk were 2 mangas that brought about this fad.

Harlem Beat is the kind of manga that feeds your spirit and speaks to your enthusiasm. There definitely are some technicalities to basketball and the sport is portrayed quite realistically, but not very often. Most of the focus is on its Shounen spirit and camaraderie of the characters.

Besides basketball, a big part of the story is the character drama that happens behind-the-scenes. You really see a lot of development and relationships being expanded throughout the series. One thing I was a little bit let down about was that most of the story focuses on the main team plus Naruse’s friends, but I don’t actually remember many opposing teams’ backstories and characters having such fleshed out personalities. There were definitely a few who were introduced and expanded on really well, but not many… Although, it’s been such a long time since I’ve read the series, I could be wrong.

I DON'T RMR WHAT VOLUME COVER, but I rmr its a volume cover.

I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT NUMBER VOLUME COVER IT IS, but its definitely a volume cover.

The art of Harlem Beat has a pretty soothing old style to it. I especially like Nishiyama’s chibis and her use of them throughout the course of the manga. Also distinctly remember her panelling making the manga have a really fun feel to it, with panels where sound effects and characters ‘pop’ and don’t stick within the restricted panel lines. She really knew how to rile up a reader and get them into the exciting atmosphere of the story.

5726212823700m

I really love this series, but there really isn’t much I can say when all I can be sure about is how much I love it and not the specific reasons on why. It’s been so long since I’ve read this manga. It hasn’t been scanlated online, I haven’t found it in Book Off in Japan, and the English Tokyopop versions are out of print. What’s a fan to do with an obscure love like this.

I wish you guys could read Harlem Beat too, because all the people I know who read it with me 9 years ago aren’t actually manga fans anymore and I’d love to have someone I could reminisce with on this awesome series. But I guess that’s a pretty tall order. Please tell me if you’ve read it 🙂 That’ll be so amazing.

Maybe one day I’ll find and be able to collect the full series in either English or Japanese. One day.

 

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