Anime: Kuroko no Basket/ Kuroko’s Basketball
Studio: Production I.G
Original Run: Jan 11, 2015 to Jun 30, 2015
Genres: Sports, Drama, Comedy
[Warning: Spoilers for the previous seasons]
Seirin has reached the semi-finals of the Winter Cup along with Kaijou, Rakuzan, and Shuutoku but two of the five Miracles have to be beaten before victory can be within their grasp.
For Kuroko Tetsuya, victory is more than just a shiny trophy. It’s his chance to show his former teammates that there’s more to basketball than just winning, that teamwork and tight bonds are as important as dunks and dribbles on the court. And this conviction finally paves the way to the tale of Teiko Middle School’s dark past; a tale of squandered principles and friendship gone sour.
But Kuroko and his team won’t have an easy time of it, not when a perfect copy and absolute authority stand in their way.
Season two ended with Seirin winning against Yosen High, one of the schools that had a Generation of Miracles member in their team. That leaves only one Miracle for them to face – Akashi Seijuurou, the captain of the Miracles. But before that final confrontation, there are a few other matches to get through.
This season has quite a few games in it, but only two involves Seirin while the others feature the other Miracles’ teams facing off against their opponents or even against each other. None of them really measure up to the Seirin-Touou game that dominated the second season but Kuroko no Basket’s staples of teamwork complementing individual skill and vice versa, and the connections between various players are prominent in each and every one of these matches. It works as well as it always did, not feeling redundant since the story evolves enough to make the delivery distinct. Basketball superpowers still rule the court with explanations that are only half-believable. New additions include the ability to steal moves and the power to predict the future. Never a dull moment in this show.
Season three also stands out because four episodes around its middle are dedicated to Kuroko’s flashback about his time with the Generation of Miracles and Momoi in Teiko Middle School. Both of the prior seasons have loudly hinted at something significant in the Miracles’ past that drove them apart and also made Kuroko want to defeat them all, and we finally get to see it firsthand. It’s a story of kids who got too good too fast and everything went to hell as a result, especially since there was no one around to keep them in check. What starts as a power team formed by close friends ends with bonds getting shattered and personalities becoming twisted. It adds an emotional depth to the whole story and to each of the Miracles as well as Kuroko and Momoi. It’s also placed right before the final match against Akashi’s team Rakuzan and is integral to understanding the last Miracle’s abilities and behavior.
That brings us to the final match, Seirin vs Rakuzan, which shoulders the burden of needing to be good enough to cap off a series that’s filled with exciting, emotional basketball games. It delivers splendidly thanks to the efforts of not only the players but also certain outside parties. The tides turn more times than can be counted during this match that spans across nine episodes and the final outcome while not unexpected is no less rewarding for it. It’s as much about emotions as basketball by the end, though the two have always been intertwined in Kuroko no Basket.
Everyone who’s showed up in the first two seasons show up in this as well along with a handful of fresh faces, most of whom are connected with Teiko Middle School and the Generation of Miracles’ past. They can’t all fit in here so here are a few of the prominent figures.
There’s Kuroko who sheds the last of his apathetic mask in this season as his past and present collide in the best of ways. We finally see how he became the ardent basketball lover he is and also what drove him to join Seirin and defeat his former teammates/friends. His own retelling of his past helps round off his character which has retained a lot of its mystery despite the slow unraveling that has been in motion since the first season. The end result is rewarding and it’s clear that there’s a good reason why this series is named after him. Kagami is the same as ever in terms of personality though his basketball skills are always growing. He’s a single-minded jock some of the time but shows emotional maturity when needed. He may also be the most well-balanced guy in the cast. The rest of Seirin remain much the same and they all come together to form a wonderful team.
Due to the mid-season flashback, the Generation of Miracles also get featured prominently. Akashi is at this point the one we know least about and he turns out to be quite the dynamic character with a split personality that allows him to get away with being simultaneously charming and terrifying. I don’t know if his mental state makes any sense medically but either way, the end result is a genuinely interesting character that makes an excellent final boss in a show that’s rampant with the ‘defeat means friendship’ trope. Akashi’s four teammates are all also interesting in their own right, especially Mayuzumi Chihiro who takes the role of Kuroko’s foil.
The other Miracle that gets the most focus this season is Aomine, surprisingly enough. He’s well out of the running in the Winter Cup but the Teiko flashback shows a lot of him. We finally get an explanation for how the sweet kid in the flashbacks became the raging asshole of the present as we see Aomine’s immense talent become his greatest burden, eventually leading to the disintegration of all of his important bonds, even the ones with Kuroko and Momoi. This also adds more layers to his defeat last season. None of this is an excuse for some of his behavior but it does help craft him into a great character and also gives a sensible reason for why third season’s Aomine has mellowed so much from the way he was in the first season.
Kise, Midorima and Murasakibara all also get their own development, especially the first two. Most of it has to do with the story’s running theme of teamwork and it’s depicted in a way that’s not cheesy – well, maybe it’s a little cheesy but it’s also oddly fitting.
Art and Music:
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the art style is quite good and the animation during the basketball matches is also excellent. It looks much the same as the last two seasons.
The music is not quite as good as the first and second seasons. With the exception of the first ED, all the opening and ending themes are unremarkable though their visuals do a great job of getting you pumped up for the main content. The first ending theme, Glitter Days by Fo’xTails, stands out in terms of both tone and lyrics, complementing the story wonderfully.
In case three glowing reviews didn’t make it clear, I’ll put it plainly – I fucking love this series.