Anime: Kuroko no Basket/ Kuroko’s Basketball
Studio: Production I.G
Original Run: Apr 8, 2012 to Sep 22, 2012
Genres: Sports, Drama, Comedy
Teiko Middle School’s basketball team is renowned for the five players that led it to victory three times in a row; five players that push human limits with their unmatched abilities on the court, earning them the name ‘Generation of Miracles.’ But high school finds the Miracles all separated, each attending a different school and bound to one day compete against each other.
At Seirin High, a relatively unknown school with a mediocre basketball team, two freshmen with notable skills show up. Kagami Taiga, a highly talented player returning from America, and Kuroko Tetsuya, a support player with an odd ability, may prove to be the backbone that Seirin’s team needs. But the path to victory is littered with obstacles in the form of the Miracles – Kuroko’s old teammates.
Kuroko and Kagami form a pact to beat them all but there may be more to Kuroko’s determination than mere ambition.
I’ve been watching a lot of sports anime recently. Not that I’m complaining because even though I’m more or less interested in sports in life, some of the anime dealing with them are my all –time favorites. Kuroko no Basket is one such title.
Kuroko no Basket’s highlights are its characters, their relationships and of course, the basketball. The latter two are often inextricably intertwined.
Looking at basketball first, be warned that if you’re expecting realistic games, you’ll be disappointed. Most of the major players have abilities that would probably rank in the supernatural but are treated as completely natural. We have near-invisibility, improbable jumping prowess, copying abilities à la sharingan, unrealistic physical fitness and flexibility, and so much more, complete with color-coded auras. Provided that you can suspend disbelief and accept all of this, the games are exhilarating with very few dull moments. And in the first season at least, they’re not predictable. There’s no guarantee that the protagonist’s team will win and even when they do, the way there is rough enough to make it a well-earned victory. The usual power of teamwork trope is a constant presence but it’s also tempered by a good dose of realism which acknowledges that team spirit, though important, is not enough on its own to let anyone win games.
This show is extremely character-focused and the actual games are more often than not a vehicle to convey the feelings of the players. That’s not to say that winning matches is unimportant or that the sport is neglected. It’s more that basketball is elevated from being just a sport to a looming entity that governs the lives of the characters. No, that’s not an exaggeration. We see middle school kids have existential crises over basketball. So most, though not all, of the matches are heavily emotional and this works very well for the story. It’s fascinating enough to see them run around on the courts flinging balls with superhero moves but everything attains a whole other level of impressiveness when that’s combined with heavy emotional stakes.
As for the characters, the eponymous Kuroko is quite an interesting figure and so is his partner Kagami. The entire Seirin team is a fun, likeable group that hosts a number of eccentric and memorable personalities. The same can be said for the important people – mostly the Miracles – from the opposite teams as well. Even though we don’t get to see much of all of them, they still give the impression of being uniquely quirky characters. And then there’s the drama they’re involved in. The majority of season one is light-hearted but there are moments where the existence of a ‘dark past’ is hinted at.
Season one ends not with a definite conclusion but with the very clear indication that the story has quite a ways to go. But it does wrap up at a point that serves as an appropriate season finale. On the whole, I’m very much taken with this anime and the only complaint I have is towards the recaps at the start of each episode which seem a bit pointless.
Kuroko no Basket season 1 features four teams of importance, each of which has five main members plus coaches and managers. The Seirin team has other peripheral members who are not as important but still show up regularly.
The central character is Kuroko Tetsuya. Though his name’s plastered on the series’ title, Kuroko is a quiet, unassuming guy who’s easily overshadowed by the louder personalities in the cast. This is more true in-universe though since Kuroko quickly makes himself immensely fascinating with his strange abilities and contradictory nature. We never get to learn what’s going on in his head and the way he behaves is quite restrained so the end result is a somewhat enigmatic boy who’s not as harmless as he seems. Then there’s Kagami Taiga who would easily pass for the show’s protagonist and who’d also make a classic sports anime hero. He’s loud, enthusiastic, talented and very driven. He may not seem like the smartest tool in the shed but it’s not that he’s an idiot, just painfully blunt and straightforward and lacking any kind of filter. Kuroko and Kagami’s partnership forms the core of the show and they definitely make an engaging pair.
Within Seirin, other characters of importance include their coach Aida Riko and their captain Hyuga Junpei. Riko is hands down one of the best characters in the entire series. An unusual sight in that she’s a high-school girl coaching the boy’s basketball team, Riko rarely lets her age hinder her team. She’s got a fiery personality and a razor-sharp mind and uses both to great effect. Hyuga is portrayed as being generally irritable but also very dedicated to his team and the game. His temper on the court is also one of the principle sources of humor.
Outside of Seirin, the Generation of Miracles are the most significant figures. We don’t learn a lot about them yet but there’s enough to garner a healthy amount of interest. There’s Kise Ryouta, the resident copycat who’s disturbingly perky most of the time but hides a shrewd mind under his good cheer. Midorima Shintarou, the second Miracle we see and a shooter with freakish accuracy, is more serious in nature but he’s too eccentric pull that off too well. The third and final Miracle to show up in season one is Aomine Daiki who’s an unapologetic jerk whenever he’s on screen but may have more to him that what meets the eye. Finally, there’s Momoi Satsuki, the Miracles’ old manager and Aomine’s perpetual babysitter who’s got an analytical mind that would put Riko to shame.
It’s this large group made up of fun individuals who easily breathe life into Kuroko no Basket.
Art and Music:
The art style is crisp and colorful with detailed backgrounds, distinctive character designs and stunning games. While the animation is good almost all the time, it really shines during the basketball matches where every movement breathes life into the game. The unrealistic powers attributed to the players are all highlighted perfectly with unique auras.
The first opening, Can Do by GRANRODEO and the first ending Start it right away by Hyadain are both great. The second OP and ED didn’t appeal to me much but on the whole, they all suit the energetic nature of the anime well.
A unique sports anime that forsakes realism for badassery and manages it extremely well. The first season is only a prologue of what’s to come.