The Way Of Water Was Defeated At The Japanese Box Office By A Basketball Anime

“Slam Dunk” tells the story of a high school basketball team, focusing on Hanamichi Sakuragi, a delinquent and former gang leader who joins the team to impress a girl but finds he is naturally gifted at the sport and falls in love with it.

The franchise, including the 1993 anime, became a cultural phenomenon in Japan and is often cited as the cause for basketball becoming popular among Japanese teens in the 1990s as well as bringing sneaker culture (especially Air Jordans) and hip-hop into the country in a bigger way. It’s easy to see why — the anime (and manga) take a grounded approach to sports, focusing on team dynamics and character drama over flashy moves and special abilities. Like “Haikyu,” it makes you fall in love with the sport as you fall in love with the characters. 

Four “Slam Dunk” movies were made between 1994 and 1995 to promote both the anime and manga, but there were no new films since then until “The First Slam Dunk” was released on December 3. While it is surprising that “Avatar: The Way of Water” couldn’t top the box office against a film in its third week of release, this is a hugely popular franchise filled with more nostalgia for the Japanese than James Cameron’s latest blockbuster.

It’s also interesting to note that Variety reported projection woes at Japanese cinemas screening “The Way of Water,” particularly around the High Frame Rate format, which certainly didn’t help the film and could cause bigger issues in the future for other “Avatar” installments.

Leave a Comment