Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: Kuroko no Basket Seasons 1-3

Title: Kuroko no Basket
Language: Japanese
Genre: Comedy, School, Shounen, Sports
Episodes: 75 (25 episodes each)

After watching both seasons of Free!, I was willing to try another sports anime in its place. Kuroko no Basket was another talked about series among my friends and it looked very entertaining and fun.

The Teiko Middle School Basketball Team. The class that produced three perfect seasons in a row, with five once-in-a generation players, called "The Generation of Miracles." There was another player who all of them respected... A legendary 6th player. An up-and-coming power player, Taiga Kagami, is just back from America. When he comes to Seirin High School, he meets the super-ordinary boy, Tetsuya Kuroko. Kagami is shocked to find that Kuroko isn't good at basketball, in fact, he's bad! And he's so plain that he's impossible to see. But Kuroko's plainness lets him pass the ball around without the other team noticing him, and he's none other than the sixth member of the Miracle Generation. Kuroko makes a pact with Kagami to defeat the other members of the Miracle Generation, who have all played basketball at other schools. A battle of light (Kagami) and shadow (Kuroko) begins! [source: MyAnimeList]

Similar to Free!, I was curious how an anime could make basketball entertaining enough to make 3 seasons. I don't find basketball a boring sport in the least. In fact, basketball is one of my favorite sports to play. Initially when watching the first couple episodes, I found myself instantly hooked. From time to time, I had to break my two episode limit just to find out what's going to happen next. It was an eager feeling I didn't have with Free! very often, but I'm sure it's because the show partially depends on its action and cliffhangers to keep you watching. I'm not saying that Free! is bad with keeping the action entertaining, but the show focuses more on its characters' growth and relationships. Kuroko no Basket puts you into the action like you're part of the team. It does focus on its characters as well, but uses the action as a cliffhanger to keep viewers watching.

Instead of making one long anime series with three arcs, this series decides to carry on its story through 3 seasons, continuing right where the previous season leaves off, but concluding certain parts in that season as well. The first season brings our team together and focuses on their growth and skills through training, camp, a Summer Cup, and so on. The second season presents the big challenge of entering the Winter Cup and the third season focuses on the intimidating semi-finals and saying farewell to the third years of each team, especially Seirin. Another interesting element I noticed that goes with the continuing story along 3 seasons is revealing each member of "The Generation of Miracles". Along with the amazing action of each game, the mystery of the members and skills also keeps you watching. With that, let's delve a little deeper into the elements I enjoyed the most about this series.

First is the story. Growing up as a 90's kid, we've had an abundance of underdog team stories, so seeing that sort of formula can easily become boring. When a movie or series does present failure, especially if the team doesn't win the championship, it is a nice change of pace, but can conjure up two different feelings depending on the audience's relationship with the characters. Kuroko no Basket fortunately doesn't completely fall into that category. Seirin is a strong team that has experienced its ups and downs. Since this follows a high school team, we have newcomers joining that need a bit of polishing, which the show successful paces out and develops. The story displays a great deal of care when establishing previous relationships with the third years, giving us enough background that's necessary for the moment with certain characters such Kuroko's past with "The Generation of Miracles" and Kagami's time in America, and presenting tension when introducing a new threat in the basketball circuit. This series doesn't mess around with filling in historical holes for its viewers when the time is right and the best example is how the series spaces out the introductions and abilities of "The Generation of Miracles". Second are the characters. I wasn't expecting to enjoy the characters in this show as much as I did. There were moments I disliked certain members of "The Generation of Miracles", but over the course of 3 seasons, my feelings tended to shift naturally, like Daiki Aomine and Midorima Shintarou. Yeah, I wasn't particularly fond of those two for a while. But there are some intentional characters that you're not going like at all, which shakes things up in the story as well as any emotions you may have for Seirin and the other teams. These characters are very well developed and they make you feel involved in the team's activities and the fluctuating energy of each game. Lastly, the animation is very fluid and colorful. Some of the key players, especially "The Generation of Miracles", have their own distinct colors such as Kuroko is blue, Kise is yellow, and Midorima is green whenever they use their special moves. Sometimes basketball can be very fast paced, but the animation during the games vary from slow tense moments on specific characters, big reveals of power, and gripping tension among the players. I'm very impressed by the skills the animators utilized to make each game exciting and inclusive.

Overall Kuroko no Basket is a fantastic sports anime! There's a variety of characters, the story is well paced and developed, and the animation is vivid and smooth. I also enjoyed the prequel, Kuroko no Basket: Tip Off, which delves further into the relationship and development of "The Generation of Miracles". I highly recommend this series if you enjoy basketball or simply sports anime. It has great characters, adds something fresh to the "underdog story", and includes the viewer in the action through each game.

Rating: 4.5/5

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