10 Things You Didn’t Know About Takehiko Inoue, The Creator Of Slam Dunk

Fans of manga and anime can certainly enjoy a good story without knowing the background of how the series was made or the creative methods of the author. Still, for the most devoted fans, it is always worth knowing more about the people who crafted a particular story, which can add some context about how a story is written. Some manga/anime stories may feel deeper and more nuanced if a fan knows more about the author behind it all.

Fans love knowing the finer details of famed manga/anime creators like Akira Toriyama, Masashi Kishimoto, and Rumiko Takahashi, while plenty of other authors like Takehiko Inoue are worth learning about, too. Even if Takehiko Inoue isn’t “big three” material and didn’t redefine manga, he is still a highly skilled and passionate author who put a lot of thought and effort into his works. Anyone who loves his most famed works such as Slam Dunk and Vagabond is encouraged to meet the man behind the story and see how he works as an artist.


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10 Takehiko Inoue Played Basketball in High School


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Slam Dunk is a franchise that spans over 30 years and had an indelible impact on Japan. The most recent movie goes beyond the anime genre.

Author Takehiko Inoue is best known for his shonen sports manga Slam Dunk, which was a personal project for him. Mr. Inoue didn’t draw a basketball story out of sheer curiosity or to follow any trends about sports – he drew upon his personal experiences of playing that sport in high school.

Takehiko Inoue absolutely loved playing basketball as a teen, which fueled a lifelong passion for that sport. That inspired him to draw a variety of basketball stories, including Slam Dunk, and his personal experiences with that sport allowed him to create a compelling, realistic depiction of shonen characters playing on the court.

9 A Baseball Manga Series Helped Inspire Takehiko Inoue to Draw About Sports


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Sports manga is a popular subgenre with many incredible titles, including Ping Pong and Eyeshield 21.

Takehiko Inoue’s personal experiences with sports played a major role in shaping him as a manga author, but he needed more than time on the court to become an excellent sports manga author. Like many manga artists, Mr. Inoue was inspired by the manga series he read in his youth, such as the baseball manga Dokaben.

The Dokaben series launched when Mr. Inoue was just 5 years old, and concluded when he was 14, meaning he was reading that serialized series during some of his most formative years. Dokaben was and still is one of Japan’s favorite sports manga/anime series, and if fans include its sequel releases, the entire franchise spans an incredible 205 volumes. That makes Dokuben one of the longest manga series ever released, alongside other juggernauts like One Piece and Golgo 13.

8 Takehiko Inoue Design Characters For the Lost Odyssey Video Game


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Sometimes, manga artists get involved in video games, usually Japanese ones. An example is the famed author Akira Toriyama, who contributed to the JRPG title Blue Dragon. Meanwhile, Takehiko Inoue helped design characters for the 2007 JRPG title Lost Odyssey, a popular game with a turn-based combat system.

Takehiko Inoue was asked to design characters for Lost Odyssey since he was known for drawing expressive characters, and the Lost Odyssey game was meant to clearly express exactly who its main characters were. Another notable contributor to that game was Nobuo Uematsu, who composed the game’s score. He is best known for his work composing scores for the Final Fantasy games.

7 Takehiko Inoue Uses Fine Details to Make His Characters Expressive

Plenty of manga artists make a serious effort to make their characters highly expressive. Some manga series use more streamlined, cartoony visuals where actions and dialogue do the talking, but Takehiko Inoue is an artist who makes sure no detail, no matter how small, is missed. That allows him to draw some of the industry’s most expressive characters of all.

No doubt it takes serious work and practice for artists like Mr. Inoue to draw like that, but the results speak for themselves. Even when seinen manga series like Vagabond are light on dialogue, the characters’ finely drawn expressions speak volumes. Mr. Inoue’s manga series are the perfect example of a picture being worth a thousand words.

6 Takehiko Inoue Spent Little Time In Art School

Takehiko Inoue, mangaka behind Vagabond, Slam Dunk, and REAL

Plenty of manga artists received remarkably little education in the arts, showing that learning on the job has a lot of merit. One example is Hiro Mashima, author of Fairy Tail, who didn’t attend art school for long before launching his manga career. Takehiko Inoue was like that too.

At one point, Mr. Inoue intended to attend a fine arts university, but he only went to a prep school for one and a half months before dropping out. For that reason, Mr. Inoue ended up attending college to get a literature degree instead. Clearly, Mr. Inoue learned all he needed to know on the job, and it paid off enormously.

5 Takehiko Inoue Focuses on Nature In His Manga

Takehiko Inoue is known to emphasize the natural world in his manga series, most of all Vabagond, a historical series starring samurai and other characters. Mr. Inoue’s works didn’t necessarily have an environmental theme, but he clearly respected the natural world and saw creative ways to use it in his stories.

Mr. Inoue used photographs of nature, such as plants and clouds, to draw ultra-realistic natural scenes in his manga, which paid off greatly. But it’s not just window dressing for the likes of Vagabond — Takehiko Inoue made nature thematic, showing how his characters are in the middle of vast nature, trying to find their place in the world. It almost has a meditative feel in some cases, such as Vagabond‘s double-page spreads.

4 Takehiko Inoue Used an Ink Brush When Drawing Vagabond

two swordsmen fighting in vagabond

Manga artists are known for using a variety of art supplies in their work, such as particular pen types, certain kinds of paper, and more. One of Takehiko Inoue’s most remarkable artistic tools is an ink brush, which he used fo good reasons when drawing his Vagabond manga.

Mr. Inoue said that an ink brush’s lines were a bit chaotic, and that raw feel felt appropriate for the chaotic and natural feel of Vagabond. Even if that made the series a bit difficult to draw at times and he didn’t have full control over the ink brush’s results, Mr. Inoue knew what he was doing, and his fine work with an ink brush helped produce some of manga’s most exquisite, authentic work of all.

3 Takehiko Inoue Drew Real Basketball Players in 2018

takehiko inoue drew real basketball players

Manga artists are usually known for drawing their most popular fictional characters, from author Kentaro Miura‘s character Guts the mercenary to Hiromu Arakawa drawing Edward Elric of Fullmetal Alchemist fame. Takehiko Inoue has drawn fictional basketball players like Hanamichi Sakuragi in Slam Dunk, but he has drawn some real players, too.

In 2018, Takehiko Inoue collaborated with a Japanese basketball league called B. League, and he both interviewed and drew 13 of their players in a newspaper. For that project, Mr. Inoue did his best to stay true to his own art style while also capturing the real expressions and personalities of the people whom he drew. It was likely a challenge even for a famed manga artist like Takehiko Inoue, but many fans may agree that he pulled it off.

2 Takehiko Inoue Explored New Artistic Ideas in Spain

takehiko inoue in a suit

Some manga artists draw inspiration from the artists or classic artworks in other nations, such as Hirohiko Araki, author of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. He visited Italy and got some ideas from the statues he saw there, which led to the beloved “JoJo poses” seen in his works. Takehiko Inoue also got some new ideas from a foreign land — in his case, Spain.

Takehiko Inoue visited Spain and learned more about the autonomous region Catalonia in 1992, and he focused on the modernist architect Antoni Gaudí. About 20 years later, Mr. Inoue went back to learn even more, and his experiences gave him new ideas on how to draw characters and expressions in his manga. Clearly, it was an enriching experience, and Takehiko Inoue even wrote a book about it titled Pepita: Takehiko Inoue Meets Gaudí.

1 Takehiko Inoue Painted Shinran in a Kyoto Temple

takehiko inoue illustration foir shinran

Takehiko Inoue dabbled in classical Japanese art and religious history in 2011, when he made some illustrations of the Japanese Buddhist leader Shinran on a series of 12 folding screens, which were displayed in Kyoto’s East Hontan Temple. The illustrations included Shinran and Honen with a group of followers, and a scene of Shinran with a bird.

Fans of Japanese history may recognize Shinran as a figure from the late Heian period, who was a student of Honen’s and the founder of Japanese Buddhism’s Jodo Shinshu sect. Today, people can see a statue of him in Kyoto, and for a time, they could also see Takehiko Inoue’s masterful illustrations of Shinran and his associates as well.

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