Kuroko’s Basketball

by MYNAMEISROCKET, Contributor

Husbando sensation Kuroko’s Basketball is now trudging into its third (and perhaps final) homoerotic season. The series is slowly bringing protagonists Tetsuya Kuroko and Taiga Kagami of Seiren High toward their predetermined conclusion: a showdown with Rakuzan and the once-captain of the “generation of miracles,” the creepy Seijuro Akashi. The soap opera elements of the show continue to carry the narrative, yet Kuroko remains a strange cultural artifact indicative of the limited impact of basketball in the Japanese popular imagination.

The manifest destiny of two boy-men toward the conquest of high school basketball.

The manifest destiny of two boy-men toward the conquest of high school basketball.

Kuroko’s Basketball is an enjoyable oddity — a flawed and plodding work that manages to draw upon well-tread sports formulas to deliver a funny, chaotic series of bromances built upon the sport. Season three drops the curtain on Shintaro Midorima’s quest to impress his high school crush, Mr. Seijuro. He passes his tsundere torch on to his sometimes rival, Seirin’s power forward extraordinaire Taiga Kagami. There is also the introduction (and quick defeat) of Haizaki Shogo, a former “generation of miracles” prodigy and sexual predator practically ripped off from the cheapest American sports villains.

“You know, they say Shogi can be a metaphor for romance. And by ‘they’ I mean me.”

While the soap-like relationships give a lot of soul to Kuroko, the series remains a likable yet cringe-worthy disaster when it comes to its most important theme: basketball. Unlike the venerable Slam Dunk, the random and incoherent exposition of the game in Kuroko’s Basketball has been a major disappointment throughout its seasons. The series attempts to shroud its lackluster understanding of the sport by granting players superhuman powers and sprinkling in hero-and-villain matchups for spice.

Haizaki is confident in both his basketball skills and his sweet '90s haircut.

This villain will steal anything, including Allen Iverson’s cornrows.

In season three, we are still subject to four episode long basketball clusterfucks full of nonsensical observations about the sport, including non-existent terms and made up facts. Basketball is a game that revolves around the exploitation of favorable matchups and hiding weaknesses, with the resulting action being the product of how those matchups play out on the court. “The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays” is a total wreck, something we find astonishing considering it is the main theme of the series. The writers of Kuroko demonstrate a deplorable command of their subject matter.

Rookie wall and some lovely background art that had as much effort put into it as the writer put into researching basketball.

The dreaded rookie wall as told by Japanese animators. Also some lovely background art that had as much effort put into it as the writer put into researching basketball.

Tragically, what we see is a random flurry full of shouts, posturing, and no sense of momentum going back and forth as the game unfolds. This leaves the viewer with not much other than the hammy-but-delicious banter between the players. It’s a disappointment mitigated by a strong sense that what you’re viewing is a guilty pleasure. That does not excuse the poor action and no viewer familiar with the sport will be able to stomach the outright embarrassing games stretched out over many episodes. On that note, Seijuro Akashi’s superpower is perhaps the single most lackluster and lazy special power in the history of human mythology. We facepalmed for a full ten minutes upon its revelation. Absolutely not the stuff of legends.

Akashi just wants you to let him touch it. Come on, you're bros! Just one touch!

Akashi just wants you to let him touch it. Come on, you’re bros! Just one touch!

On the bright side, the third season delves back into the era of the “generation of miracles” where basketball, for no reason in particular, is portrayed more responsibly. You get the sense that the writer probably should have chosen to situate the players in their high school and college years instead of starting in junior high and having the series take place at a high school level. Teiko’s “generation of miracles” is reminiscent of Little League teams sneaking 18 year-olds into their pitching rotations.

Euphoric team cheering or the riot when they heard the art team was running out of blue markers.

Euphoric team cheering or the riot that broke out when the art team heard it was running out of blue markers.

The impossibly developed bodies of “high school” players aside, the art direction remains high quality, though a bit bland. The one place where Kuroko really sings is its original soundtrack. Perhaps a positive side effect of following a sports movie formula, every opening intro to the series makes the viewer explode into a little shuffle and season three’s two openings are no exception. Most of the soundtrack is carried over from the first two seasons, which is probably a good thing.

Balls. BALLS.

Balls. BALLS.

In the end, we can make the following recommendation: Watch Kuroko’s Basketball if you want to stare at hot guys without the over-the-top homoeroticism of Free! Eternal Summer. If basketball is your thing, you’ll probably get bored and frustrated. If bromance ain’t your thang, then Kuroko season three is not for you.

The silence descended upon the Last Supper when he revealed that his incessant hashtagging of #BallsAreLife was both intentional and unrelated to sports.

The silence descended upon the Last Supper when he revealed that his incessant hashtagging of #BallsAreLife was both intentional pluralization and unrelated to sports.

Rating: 6.5

Series Info:

Title: Kuroko’s Basketball (Kuroko no Basuke)
Original Source: Manga
Source Writer: Tadatoshi Fujimaki
Source Publisher: Shueisha
Director: Shunsuke Tada
Writer: Noburo Takagi
Music: Tomohiro Ike et al
Studio: Production I.T
Run Start: 10/2012
Review Date: 05/2015
Episodes Reviewed: 01-67

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