Young, fit, sweaty men–oh, and basketball!
Normally, I'd have ZERO interest in sports, real or fiction; I didn’t play on any sports teams growing up, nor did I watch games, except in passive glances while getting my buzz on at a sports bar. Yup, my interest in sports lies solely in the athletic physique–that is, until I discovered Kuroko’s Basketball. This welcomed discovery not only sparked an interest in basketball, but actually taught me a thing or two about the sport–something that would otherwise NEVER happen in my lifetime. Kudos to Kuroko’s Basketball on giving this girl a new perspective on b-ball with its [ahem] sweaty display of characters, and their crazy courtside and streetside skills.
A Phantom Sixth Man?
The show did well to gain my attention with its “phantom sixth man” as I have a penchant for the spooky and disturbing. Right off the bat, I assumed this series would include some b-ball playing apparition that haunts games as Kadeem Hardison did in the 1997 film The 6th Man. What I expected was a poke of ghostly humor at the sport, but what I got instead was hardcore rivalry, intense adrenaline, pig-headed determination, and fierce teamwork sprinkled with egos and light-hearted amusement.
Before I get to my favorite part, I have to give applause to the female characters and their roles in the series. First we have my favorite, Riko Aida, our beloved second year student who’s also the coach of Seirin High’s basketball team. I love that–despite always being mistaken for the team’s manager–she calls the shots while being very open and trusting of her players. Her ability to size-up any physique is beyond awesome, and one can appreciate the history of how she gained said ability. Also, there’s the coach of Yosen High, Masako Araki. Not too much is given about her, but she runs her team with dignity–enough said. Although not a coach, Satsuki Momoi plays a vital role as the Too team’s manager, and has a bubbly personality yet stone seriousness when it comes to the game. Her ability is just as–if not more–unique as she can predict skill developments in players based on their current skill set, and prepare future plays based on those developments–holy crap! Then, there’s the former WNBA player Alexandra Garcia who mentored a couple of the characters during their stint in the states, one being Taiga Kagami. Although few, the female characters in this series make a name for themselves in more ways than one.
Okay, now my favorite part–the basketball players! OMG, I don’t even know where to begin. Hmmmm, let’s start with the Generation of Miracles. These guys are like the Power Rangers of basketball, complete with a sixth ranger! They each have such unique, hardcore, unparalleled abilities and distinct personalities, and although the better part of them are stuck-up, egotistic jerks, I can’t help but love how badass they are! I have to admit that I’m a Daiki Aomine groupie–he has THE SICKEST skills of anyone in the series thus far, and I love that haughty front, but inner contradiction he hides, plus his amusing long-time friendship with the mammary-blessed Momoi. Two of our main characters, Taiga Kagami and Tetsuya Kuroko make for one awesome yet HILARIOUS duo. I love how they work together on and off the court, a simultaneous transformation of skills as they step it up to the next level. Of the Seirin team, my hat goes off to Teppei Kyoshi a.k.a. Uncrowned King b.k.a. the Iron Heart, ya heard?! Tangent: You have to credit the Japanese for bestowing epic monikers on everything i.e. the Generation of Miracles, Three Kings, the Uncrowned Kings, Iron Heart, Right of Postponement, Phantom Shot, Ignite Pass Kai, Vanishing Drive, Thor’s Hammer, Vice Claw, Hawk Eye, Eagle Eye–you get the idea. Anyway, Teppei was not given those monikers for nothing. This guy is a total BEAST on the court, but one with an iron heart that everyone respects. It would be icing on the cake for him and Riko to hit it off and become Seirin’s coaching couple, especially given his founding role, but I guess that’ll only happen in my anime dreams [sigh]. Speaking of, I cannot mention Teppei, the epitome of honorable b-ball, without a word of another Uncrowned King, his utterly underhanded opposite, Makoto Hanamiya–DOUCHEBAG of all anime douchebags. Granted, there can’t exist a good series without one ultimate, sadistic jerk you’d wish to die, and for me that’s Hanamiya, of whom I liken to Joffrey Lannister. The series did well in pacing Hanamiya’s past connection to Seirin High, and the final showdown that ensues is well worth my vested hate.
spoiler alert: hot springs!
Awesome Action Additions!
While Kuroko’s Basketball has a wonderful array of characters with quirky, complex, relationships and amazing developments, it also has some of the coolest b-ball action sequences: the movements, combos, special effects, etc. all make for epic, entertaining plays. The BEST sequences happen when a player enters the awe-inspiring Zone, of which the player becomes an untouchable basketball god while everyone gawks stupidly in open-mouthed wonder. Even more so is beholding the sight of two opposing aces in the Zone battling on the court with superhuman ability. Nothing has riled me up as much as these scenes have, and I look forward to more!
spoiler alert: Insanely hype plays!
What I also love about the series, as I do with others, is the collection of music for the opening and ending themes. So far, my favorite two are Catalrhythm by OLDCODEX and Fantastic Tune by Ono Kensho.
Listen for yourself!
Having finished 2 seasons, I feel in a perpetual state of sadness as I await the release of a third. Kuroko’s Basketball has definitely become my standard for athletic themed anime, and as I sail the seas for a stand-in I shall remain loyal to my first–the first, to penetrate my anti-sport barrier and show me the array of exquisite feelings that can be had with a spectator sport via anime.