Anime: Kuroko no Basket/ Kuroko’s Basketball
Studio: Production I.G
Original Run: Oct 6, 2013 to Mar 30, 2014
Genres: Sports, Drama, Comedy
[Spoilers for the first season]
The Inter-High is finally over and it’s time for Seirin to set their sights to the future, to shake off their loss and aim for the Winter Cup. But that’s easier said than done when friends and foes both old and new stand in their way. Both Kuroko and Kagami find themselves confronted by pieces of the past; pieces that will have an important impact on their present.
The Generation of Miracles are still obstacles Seirin has to conquer. Midorima who’s tasted loss and has no intention of repeating the experience, Aomine at whose hands Seirin suffered a crushing loss and Murasakibara whose stature is as great as his skill are all formidable opponents and Seirin has to work harder than ever to achieve their dream.
This will make absolutely zero sense unless you’ve watched the first season. The story directly continues from where it left off in episode 25 though some time has passed. Where season one dealt with the Inter-High competition, season 2 features the Winter Cup.
As always, the main focus is on Seirin High School, a good but fresh and formerly unexceptional team. The underdog. Other schools containing the Generation of Miracles also get a fair share of attention but Seirin is the main priority and for good reason since most of the show’s appeal depends upon their journey. We get to see Seirin and its members visibly grow and change, not just as individuals but also as a team. From captain to benchwarmer, each player has been changed by their devastating loss in season one and has used that as incentive to fuel their progress. In addition to that, each of the basketball games also expertly features the team ever-shifting dynamics.
Speaking of team dynamics, Kuroko no Basket does this great balancing act between teamwork and individual prowess. The former is an important part of it all given that basketball is a team sport. And teamwork as well as team spirit has a pertinent role to play in the narrative, not just in the case of Seirin but also for the Miracles’ schools. How the lone wolf type Miracles learn to work with their respective teams (for the most part) while learning that winning at any cost is not everything is an important area of focus for the story. Some mysterious backstory is also hinted at just as in season one but only sparse details are given. All in all, this element works very well.
The basketball games remain as the true gems of the anime since all of the aforementioned features as well as emotional character moments are best illustrated during them. Matches in season 2 last longer than in season 1 but they are very much worth the time. A great deal of skill is evident in how the matches seem to go on and on without ever getting dull, always featuring new twists and turns. The Seirin-Touou game that lasted six episodes is definitely the highlight of the season. The moves the players pull are as unrealistic as always. The main character Kuroko in particular seems prone to busting out new abilities, though not without some build-up. The embellished skillsets of the characters serve to add to the excitement of the games and make the story all the more engaging.
The only flaw I’ve noticed is how conversations work while they’re playing. Characters seem to verbally and otherwise react to what other characters are thinking or even murmuring. Even people in the stands are not exempt from this. So either the entire cast of Kuroko no Basket is telepathic or the players are shouting their thoughts across the court while running around and jumping. Of the two, the first one sounds like the better option.
As much these basketball matches make my non-sporty heart race, the characters remain as the driving force behind Kuroko no Basket. With most of the groundwork already laid in season one, this season is freer to explore the complexities of each major player more deeply.
Kuroko retains most of his mystery, mostly thanks to his reticent nature and the hinted backstory, but at the same time reveals his emotional side on and off the court. For all that he usually imitates a blank wall, Kuroko is earnest, hardworking and very much in love with basketball. But more than that, he holds a great deal of concern for his former teammates and is determined to teach them something through his style of playing with the team. And it seems to be working too if Kise and Midorima, both of whom have clearly grown closer to their teams and is playing better because of it, are any indication. Kagami continues to be as single-minded and straightforward as always. He can be a bit too brash at times but on the whole, he’s well-meaning and nice.
Two of the Seirin second-years, Kiyoshi Teppei and Hyuga Junpei, get their own spotlight this season. Hyuga is their driven captain who’s serious most of the time and absurdly dedicated (though this is true of 90% of the characters). We do get a bit of background on him, on how he almost gave up basketball but was drawn back to it anyway because of Kiyoshi, that serves to flesh out his character more. Then there’s Kiyoshi himself who looks sweet, acts sweet, is sweet and is also one of the most badass characters in a series that’s filled to the brim with them. He’s basically a big human marshmallow, always bursting with optimism and encouragement, but when push comes to show, he shows nerves of steel and a protective spirit that’s nothing short of awe-inspiring. Take my word on it – he’s awesome.
Let’s not forget the Generation of Miracles. This season prominently features Aomine Daiki and Murasakibara Atsushi. Aomine is a ridiculously talented player who firmly believes that no one can ever best him on the court. His attitude suffers severely from this belief and the end result is an unapologetic jerk. What’s odd is that he used to be Kuroko’s close friend and a few glimpses of his past self paint a drastically different picture than the one we’re presented with. The dichotomy is interesting and though Aomine has a lot of unflattering moments, it’s obvious enough that he’s ultimately just a boy who got tired of life and is now kinda lost and desperately looking for a challenge. He gets it thankfully.
Murasakibara is the last Miracle Seirin faces in this season. He’s huge enough to comfortable fit in as one of Attack on Titan’s titular titans but is also a total kid at heart. He’s lazy, obsessed with sweets, petulant and generally alternates between being irritating and endearing. He is one hell of a threat on the court though and that’s what we see most of. Murasakibara’s teammate Himuro also plays an important part as Kagami’s old friend and ‘brother’ who has a very strained but complicated relationship with him.
Other characters of importance include the duo of intelligent analysts Riko and Satsuki, Kagami and Himuro’s mentor Alex who has predilection for stripping and kissing, and many other players belonging to the myriad of schools that pop up in the course of 25 episodes.
Art and Music:
The art is the same as before. Bright and detailed, with everything from character designs to basketball courts being quite pleasing to the eye. The even more crazy matches played in the second season makes good use of the excellent animation.
The songs this season are similar to but even better than those in the first. The second opening – Hengen Jizai no Magical Star by GRANRODEO – is relatively unremarkable but the first opening –The Other Self by GRANRODEO – and both of the ending themes – Walk by OLDCODEX and Fantastic Tune by Kensho Ono – are nothing short of excellent. The lyrics, music and visuals all combine to create pieces that fit the mood of the show perfectly well.
An excellent sequel that seamlessly picks up where season one left off and improves the narrative in all the ways that matter.