This is review number eighty eight. I’ll be reviewing an anime from the Spring 2012 lineup this time. I think I have three more anime in that lineup excluding the 3 minute mini episodes. I want to get out of this season soon. The anime I’ll be reviewing is Kuroko no Basket. It’s a twenty five episode anime about basketball. Any anime that I finish in one sitting is something I consider really great. This anime is something I consider really great. Let’s read on.
The Teiko Middle School Basketball is an incredibly strong team with over one hundred members and three consecutive championship wins. Amongst their brilliant record is the generation of five prodigies known as the “Generation of Miracles”. However, there was a strange rumor concerning the generation of miracles. Despite being relatively unknown and lacking a game record, there was one more member recognized by the five prodigies.
A phantom sixth man.
Taking the Pants Off
Kuroko’s Basketball is one of the most talked about anime of the Spring season. It was a rage because two bishies are playing basketball. I was incredibly hesitant to try this anime because I thought it’ll be another Dear Boys clone and that doesn’t really sit well with me. I’m a Slam Dunk fan and a huge basketball enthusiast so if I want to watch a Basketball anime then it better be about the sport and nothing else. Sports anime should be about the sport and nothing else. It should focus on the Sports and feature characters playing the sports in such an awesome way that you’d be tempted to play the game yourself. The spirit of the game and the passion for the sport should be prominent. If not, then you’d end up with a bullsh*t anime like Ryo-Ku-Bu.
A Sports anime should excite you, gets your heart pumping and it should be able to absorb you into the moment where you’ll automatically be rooting for the characters. It’s no secret that the Sports genre is among the most popular genre in anime next to Shoujo and Shounen simply because it captures the beauty of the sports that it features and it mostly revolves around a character that is overly passionate about the Sport. If you make a basketball anime then as a fan, it better be good and actually engaging.
The anime is about the basketball team of Seirin High that was just formed the previous year. They are welcoming fresh year students and Taiga Kagami thought it’d be fun to join the team. He’s a six foot tall guy and he’s a really good power forward. Everyone is impressed with Taiga that they didn’t notice the other person that entered the team, Tetsuya Kuroko. He’s a small guy with no presence and Taiga laughed at him for entering the basketball club while having no basic skill at the game. He was shocked to learn though that Tetsuya is part of the most dominant middle school basketball team in Japan. The team is so good that they are called the “Generation of Miracles” and they all entered different high schools with a top basketball team. Tetsuya is the rumored sixth member and Taiga was shocked to learn that Tetsuya is actually great at passing the ball and nearly moving at invisible speed. This excites him and he wanted to fight the rest of the generation of miracles to see how they stack up. Tetsuya promised to be by his side as Taiga aims to be the greatest basketball player in Japan.
The great thing about this anime is that it doesn’t waste time. Episode one introduced the characters and set up the status quo. At episode three, we are already treated to a basketball match. I am a fan of basketball but I’m also a huge anime fan and to see the characters do slam dunks or hook shoots with ease was very exciting to see. In a normal basketball game, you’d see some nice shots from inside the court and you’d see a lot of fouls or time outs dragging the pacing of the game. Kuroko’s Basketball eliminates all that nuisance and just lets the characters to slam dunks and double clutches during the game. Seeing those flashy moves not only made the anime exciting, it also eliminates the technicality of the game so even casual anime viewers can enjoy the game. No complicated fouls, no calls for travelling, the character does a lot of monologues during a three minute game that the shot clock doesn’t even exist and the ten second violation isn’t mentioned. The anime didn’t need all that and it was a smart move. The result is a fast paced, high adrenaline and really exciting basketball game between two equally impressive teams.
The best part about the anime is that it focuses entirely on the matches that even the storytelling is told through the game. There are two plot points introduced in the first half of the anime. The first one is the relationship of Taiga and Tetsuya that is translated through their plays in the game. The invisible pass of Kuruko towards the power forward that ends it with a slam dunk or an alley-oop is really impressive to watch.
The second plot point is the generation of miracles’ using their impressive abilities in the game. It’s a really a sight to see the generation of miracles display their abilities and proving to all why they are called prodigies. It’s double exciting to see this persistent Taiga counter those abilities with his own physical prowess. It’s what sold the anime for me. The basketball matches is too good not to enjoy. I even find myself jumping up and down seeing the generation of miracles’ faces in shock after Taiga shatter their offensive plays. The fact that the first half featured nothing but basketball games was also impressive. There are thirteen episodes in the first half and ten of those are basketball matches. So the anime just showcased its strongest point in the first half leaving you wondering how the second half will turn out. I am glad I waited for the anime to finish airing before I watched it because the basketball games are so exciting that the anime often do cliffhangers at the best part of the games. In the first half as well, the games kept getting better until you are just glued to your screen waiting how the next game will unfold.
The characters in the anime are pretty nice as well. This is your standard Sports anime so the characters develop in the court and when they are off the court, they are often being comedic things or the anime introduces their next opponent. Kagami Taiga is the typical “I will not give up” kind of character who pushes his limits and does the impossible. He is an aggressive player that does some powerful slam dunks and scary drives. He is the loud type of character but being a bishie, he also has some awesomeness that’ll make a girl fan girl hard. Kuroko is the opposite. He is quiet and he rarely speaks. He is the typical Dandere that looks like he doesn’t care but deep down inside he does care. The suggestive Shouen ai aura of the two characters is also undeniably strong. I bet some fujoshi out there is just going crazy seeing these two exchange dialogue. “You’re going to be my light and I’m going to be your shadow” is uncomfortably sweet to hear. The rest of the characters are pretty normal. In the basketball games they do have some moments of brilliance but the main characters are often in the spotlight. They are the typical supporting cast for a Sports anime so the familiarity is a great thing. We are all focused in the match and however hold the ball has our attention.
The opponents have the same character set up. There are one or two characters from the opposing team that is featured heavily. They often clash with the main characters of the anime. The awesome thing about the opponents is that they start out as the typical arrogant jerks that dismiss the characters and deal out some painful basketball maneuvers. The flow of the game typically starts out with the main characters being in awe of the opponents plays but they slowly counter it with some brilliant plays of their own. The anime uses basic basketball skills and makes them over the top. As a basketball fan, I was really in awe when one of the opponents makes a three point shot from the center line. It was awesome and it made the match exciting knowing that Taiga and Kuroko will have to beat those characters with their own skills.
The anime clearly establishes though that the guys to look out for are the five members of the generation of miracles. They are the guys the anime hypes and when they appear, they don’t disappoint. These characters often have over the top basketball abilities that don’t seem plausible in real life but you can’t help but be in awe of it when they unleash it in the court. The first half featured some taste of the generation of miracles that Taiga and Kuroko fought. I particularly love these matches because the storytelling in the matches is really amazing and the characters really enhance the matches. They all have big fight feels to them and I can assure you, the games will not disappoint.
The first half was crazy intense with almost all the episodes being basketball matches. The second half seemed to have slowed down to focus on events outside the court. The anime is only twenty five episodes long so I kinda had a hunch that the anime wouldn’t have a satisfying ending and it would continue the story on another season. The Sports genre often has a minimum of fifty episodes and a maximum of 200 for the story of the manga to be completely covered. The anime stopped the progress on the second half and have the characters focus on training and stuff. The important thing is that it builds up anticipation and excitement for a coming second season. I’ve seen the same thing happened in Chihayafuru where the first half featured all the excitement of the game then the second half featured stronger opponents that exposed the character’s weakness that they plan to improve on. Chihayafuru is already in production possibly airing in 2013. I’m sure Kuroko’s Basketball will have a season two by then as well.
I’m telling you right now that the anime deserves as second season because this first one is crazy good. I’m sure it won’t take you long before you start jumping off your seat as well in excitement while you watch this anime. It’s that damn good. Well worth waiting for another season.
Sight and Sound
This anime was made by Production IG. The same studio that made Guilty Crown and if there’s one thing that makes that anime awesome, it’s the animation. The basketball matches are brilliantly done because of the animation. The frame rate, the smoothness of the movements and the accuracy of the body positions makes the matches very spectacular. I particularly appreciate the way the characters hold the ball and their posture when they dunk or do free throws. It’s very accurate and its unnoticeable details like those that makes the anime realistic even with the over the top abilities of the characters. A slam dunk is only exciting if the animation is done right and Production IG made sure the animation will stand out. The animation does stand out very splendidly and there are no boring scenes during the basketball matches which are really amazing. I love buzzer beaters and the anime was able to capture the drama of those moments that makes the matches that much more exciting.
There is also some CG and the most noticeable of all is the basketball and the hoop. When the ball enters the basket and the net dances around, it’s very impressive because no scenes look the same. If you think, about it; five basketball matches and no ball over basket looks the same then it’s so unbelievably detailed.
The characters are your typical sports characters. They have huge build, muscles in their bodies and they are bishies. I watch yaoi so I see some yaoi appeal in the characters. The tall, dark and handsome character with pointy chins and board shoulders that looks very cool. I must admit that the minor characters often look alike but I also admire the fact that even background characters have the same features as the minor or main characters. The main reason you’d spot a main character is because their hair color is different. For some reason, the minor characters all have brown or black hair and the main ones have red, blue, green, violet, pink and blonde hairs. Maybe it’s a way to emphasize their importance in the anime but it is pretty ridiculous. It doesn’t matter though cause their bishies! The female characters have some striking resemblance to Guilty Crown characters but they are pretty nice. The coach of Seiren is pretty awesome and the pink haired in the second half of the anime looks stunning. I personally love seeing any girl in the anime because of the overwhelming number of male characters.
The characters are serious macho men in the basketball matches but they are comic relief outside the court. The anime has a running gag of people being surprised when Kuroko suddenly appears out of nowhere. The anime also pokes fun of Taiga’s fear of dogs. Seeing this awesome guy cower in fear because of a dog is pathetically cute. All the characters, both main and minor, have their own quirks that make them stand out. It makes the viewer’s recognize them much better because the cast will most likely get larger after every match.
There is also some nice scenery in the anime but it wasn’t that heavily prominent. There are few stands out though that established a certain scenes mood and makes that much doubly awesome. Production IG doesn’t shy away from sceneries but they aren’t like KyoAni. They excel mostly on making the smooth movements and fight scenes more stand out. If they tried to be detailed about their backgrounds then I’m sure they’ll match KyoAni.
One criticism I notice about Production IG though is that the characters don’t blink. They put so much detail to the eyes that it’s often the one thing you’ll focus on and when a character talks you’ll often notice they don’t blink. It’s the same Guilty Crown but other studios do it as well. Production IG just puts so much beauty in the eyes that you’ll notice it easily.
The anime had two OP songs. “Can Do” for the first half and “RIMFIRE” for the second half. Both were performed by GRANRODEO. They both have the same energy and they both capture the anime’s sports spirit. They are perfect OP songs because they really represent the anime’s passion and love for basketball. The opening sequence is the same. I was a bit bummed that they introduced the generation of miracles so early but my complaint faded away when the anime slowly hyped their appearance. The OPs nicely summarizes the anime with all the awesome basketball matches and the important events squeezed in the opening sequence.
The anime had two ending songs. The first one is “Start it right away” by Hyadain. It’s a nice song with a slow beat but the song has the same energy as the Ops. It starts out slow and mellow then the chorus goes fast. It’s awesome. The first ED sequence featured all the characters just doing poses being all bishies and sh*t. The second one is “Catal Rhythm” by OLDCODEX. It’s the same as the first ED with basically the same ED sequence.
9/10 “The best basketball anime since Slam Dunk.”
The only thing that makes Slam Dunk more awesome is that there is a much bigger crowd in games that makes the basketball matches that more grand. I do believe that if Slam Dunk was made today with the production value of Kuroko Basketball then I’m sure it’d be much more fantastic. Kuroko Basketball is a great anime with strong Sports elements that vividly captures the spirit of basketball. It also has bishies so that’s always good. Highly recommended.