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Manga / Harlem Beat

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From bottom-left to top-right: Mizuki, Naruse, Kiriko, Sawamura, Kobayashi, Kosuke, Sakurai, Umakure, and Imagawa.

Harlem Beat (ハーレム・ビート, Hāremu Biito) is a basketball manga by Nishiyama Yuriko, known in U.S as “Harlem Beat” from volume 1-9 and “Rebound” from volume 10-29. It was serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine from 1994 to 2000.

Nate Torres (Naruse “Narucho” Tohru in the Japanese version) just wanted to be someone; he tried on basketball club only to find himself ended up as a mere benchwarmer. A chance meeting with his Childhood Friends Kusuda Mizuki brought him to the world of streetball, and after his unexpected win against famous streetball player Shu, Naruse renewed his resolve to be a basketball player. Along the way he met Ozaki Kosuke and Sawamura Masahiro, and then together with Mizuki, the four of them formed a streetball team named Scratch.

Nate’s progressions as basketball player proved to be a great asset to his high school team, Johnan. With supports of Sakurai Shuuji, his senpai; Yabe Kiriko and Imagawa Kiyoshi, the team managers; Umakure Hiroaki, team captain; Kobayashi Sumisugu, and other members of the team, Nate tackled the world of high school basketball and continued to mature as a player.


Not to be confused with Harlem Beat wa Yoake Made by Kazusa Takashima.

Harlem Beat contains examples of:

  • Accidental Athlete: Nerdy Sakurai lined in a wrong queue, entered a streetball game and boom, he was hooked.
  • The Ace: Sakurai, Takagi from Kanakita.
  • Alternate Universe: There are two omake segments in the manga; Super Ultra Basketman Shu (adventure of Shu in Superman flavor with Narucho as his sidekick) and Fantasy Harlem Beat (the characters cast in RPG-like fantasy world).
  • Animal Motifs: Nate is a monkey, Sawamura is a fox, Kiriko is a shark…
  • Art Evolution: The art started in rough and realistic style before it gets softer and ‘prettier’.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Sawamura, even Kosuke fell hard for him before the reveal.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Nate and Tomomi. Kiriko and Sakurai had their moments.
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  • Bash Brothers: Sawamura with Nate, with Kai in his past and during his brief Face–Heel Turn moment in ‘J’ Invasion Arc, and he later developed similar setup with Kobayashi.
  • Berserk Button: Try to diss or hurt Imagawa in front of Kobayashi (as Hayashida and Mikami can testify for you). Or just try to hurt his teammates, and Kobayashi will be out for blood.
  • Betty and Veronica: Mizuki as the Betty and Kiriko as the Veronica to Sakurai.
  • Bishōnen: Most notably Sawamura, Sakurai, Takao, and almost every member of Tsukuba team (minus Hayashida).
  • Blackmail: Kiriko’s standard M.O to make the team (especially Naruse) to do her bidding. Sawamura sometimes.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Kyan's Zukeran Tatsuya is half-American.
  • Chick Magnet: Sawamura, complete with fangirls brigade. Sakurai is also popular among the ladies.
  • Clark Kenting: Shu of Three Men is the alter ego of Sakurai Shuuji. A darker version is Akutagawa Hideaki, a gentlemanly businessman, as the real ‘J’.
  • Combat Commentator: Usually done by Threemen’s Hoop kids, Okuda from basketball magazine, and Kuwata.
  • Cool Shades: Three Men team, Shades, Ultraman (his shades even shaped like Ultraman’s eyes!), and Kojiya twins from Kyan.
  • Cute Sports Club Manager: Johnan’s opponents usually thought that Kiriko was this. They have NO IDEA.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Oh Lord, Sawamura… Kiriko, Kobayashi and Mikami to an extent.
  • Death Glare: Kobayashi’s trademark. Akutagawa from ‘J’ Invasion Arc weaponized it as ‘The Eyes of Medusa’.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Almost all rival teams become this with Johnan.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kiriko was such a Jerkass before Sakurai and Johnan guys defrosted her, same with Sawamura before he joined Scratch and Johnan. Kobayashi also mellowed out during the story and he later smiled more. And then there’s Mikami after Johnan defeated his team.
  • Delinquents: Kiriko, Kosuke, Sawamura, the WHOLE Kyan team.
  • Determinator: Getting punched, kicked, beaten up? Nate will still play, come hell or high water. Sawamura could only use one arm? Then one arm he’ll use. Ankle injury? Don’t worry, Sakurai still storms the court like a badass.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Kiriko is a witch in plain sight.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Kosuke to Mizuki, Mizuki to Sakurai, Sakurai to Kiriko although they later became the Official Couple. What a delicious Love Triangle.
  • Dub Name Change: Initially applied, then abandoned in the TokyoPOP translation However, the initial set of characters had their Americanized names grandfathered in: Naruse and Ozami, who were introduced with their full names, remained "Nate Torres" and "Kyle Ozman" respectively, while Mizuki and Shuji, whose full names were not revealed until later, had one changed name alongside one unchanged one, making them "Mizzy Kusuda" and "Shuji Shurman". Sawamura was initially referred to as "Masa", but the manga eventually switched to using his full name. Characters introduced afterwards generally kept their original names.
  • Expy:
  • Eyes Always Shut: Imagawa, Saito and Kemp.
  • Fanservice: Most notably the summer camp’s furo scene and the Beach Episode
  • Mr. Fanservice: Sawamura, Kobayashi, and Sakurai often featured in splash-pages with fanservice-y flavors.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mizuki. Kiriko, to an extent.
  • Foreign Exchange Student: Tsukuba's Kow is one from Russia.
  • Glass Cannon: Sawamura. Prolific three-pointers, sucky stamina.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Imagawa and Kiriko in their respective backstory.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Nate and Sawamura, Kobayashi and Imagawa.
  • High-School Hustler: Kiriko and Sawamura often gambled on Johnan games.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kosuke. Higa Yuuta from Kyan; the reason his team was disqualified in previous year was because he started a fight.
  • In-Series Nickname: Mizuki calls Naruse “Narucho”. Sawamura calls Kiriko “Witch” and Kobayashi “Umbrella Guy” (based on the image of aloof umbrella maker during Jidaigeki). Takao nicknamed Kobayashi as “Musashi” for his samuraiesque attitude. Zukeran Tetsuya from Kyan was often called “Kemp” for his resemblance to Shawn Kemp. Those Three Guys from Threemen’s Hoop only known by their nicknames.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Kyan High School's main players are all yankii, although they don't wear the stereotypical look and hair style.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kosuke may be crass and Sawamura had a Heel–Face Revolving Door syndrome, but both really care for their team. Kiriko often gets on the team’s nerves, but she’s a Lovable Alpha Bitch.
  • The Lad-ette: Kiriko.
  • Love Interests: Mizuki and later Tomomi to Naruse. Kiriko to Sakurai and Sakurai to Mizuki.
  • No Social Skills: Kobayashi had a hard time being integrated to Johnan team before Imagawa befriended him.
  • Opposing Sports Team
  • Perpetual Frowner: Kobayashi, Mikami before he thawed out, Amami.
  • The Rival: As the main character almost every ace of other teams is this to Naruse, but Amami Sasuke is his main rival. Kuwata had a Friendly Rivalry version with Kobayashi and Nate.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: The first time they clashed, Sawamura versus Kobayashi was drawn this way.
  • Tsundere: Kiriko with everyone, especially Sakurai. Mizuki towards Kosuke and Sawamura.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sakurai-Umakure, Imagawa-Kobayashi, Takao-Yuuta.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Kiriko, Sawamura (before they got serious in Johnan team), Kosuke. Yuuta and Takao bonded over smoke.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Kobayashi and post-Interhigh Mikami.
  • The Stoic: Kobayashi, Amami.
  • Those Two Guys: Saito Nobuyuki and Takakura “Gan” Iwao. Heck, they even have combo move and rarely enter the court without the other! Shades, Ultraman/T-Rock and Bucky from Threemen’s Hoop are those three guys.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: Naruse often get some new moves for the next game.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Kiriko and Mizuki. Subverted appearance-wise in that Kiriko fits Yamato Nadeshiko stereotype (she always looks good in yukata or kimono) and was seen wearing skirts more often than Mizuki, but Mizuki is the one that's more caring and ladylike between the two.
  • Tournament Arc
  • Trickster Twins: Kyan's Uzumiya twins, both on and off court. Their primary gag is having one of them insult someone in English and the other deliberately mistranslate it as a compliment.
  • True Companions: Scratch and Johnan team.
  • Unknown Rival: Poor Matsudaira. Sakurai and the Johnan guys never seemed to recall him or his team.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sawamura with both Kosuke and Kobayashi. They bickered outside the court but had good chemistry during the game.

Alternative Title(s): Rebound