Kuroko’s Basketball – 01 Review
That’s not an ability! That’s just sad! And seriously, can’t Kuroko do something about it? Like perhaps dressing like a clown or something? He creeps the hell out of his environment by popping out of nowhere like that…
Kuroko’s Basketball 01: Basketball Allows Invisibility Now
Shouldn’t there be rules that stop someone like Kuroko from messing up the sport? He’s a frigging alien, that’s what he is! He doesn’t behave like a human, he doesn’t play basketball like a human and worst of all: He can turn himself invisible! How unfair is that?! Next thing we know we see Superman just flying over the heads of his opponents with the ball… I can stomach a lot of exceptional talent as a plot-device for a protagonist but it shouldn’t be so obviously game-breaking, should it? Aren’t there enough normal people there to play the sport normally? I can just picture the last episode being this epic brutal battle and the people in the audience are like: “What the hell… We wanted to see a basketball-game and not a Power-Rangers-live-action-movie…”.
God can be quite a dick apparently because he decided to concentrate the best basketball-players of next generation in one little middle-school (if that isn’t unfair to the rest of the world, I don’t know what is…). The team from that school was naturally known as “The Generation of Miracles”: Five dudes who are too good for normal basketball. But there was a sixth one as well who’s just as douchy as the other five since he also can’t play basketball like normal people do. They all end up at different schools but the midget lands in the same team as Kagami, a kid being far too big and strong for his age. The trainer of the team, a girl named Riko, at once sees the potential of the two (since she hasn’t got a real life to speak of besides being a trainer). She’s impressed with them both and when later Kuroko and Kagami meet they vow to each other to bring down the Generation of Miracles together…
So the question is: Can the invisible midget and the big barbarian from American bring down the Generation of Miracles…?! (Spoiler Alert!) Yes, they can.
Well, thank God at least the trainer noticed how screwed up the plot’s logic is. He’s turning invisible, goddamnit! Take him out of the game! Who the hell wants to play against an invisible midget in basketball?! That’s not fair play…
Sports is very much a shounen-trope if you think about it. Animes usually focus on this one dude or a team with endless raw talent which is unlocked by acts of courage, compassion and whatever other sentimental bullshit the shounen-series thinks it’s talking about. There’s not much difference if the best mecha-pilot of the world or the best basket-player of the world wins against obviously villainous rivals, right? But between mechas and sports you’d think that the latter would inspire the sort of down-to-earth plots that make shounen-series entertaining instead of cheesy and preachy. But Kuroko’s Basketball is the kind of sports-anime that screws with the logic of the game and just goes with whatever unbelievable plottwist seems exciting in the moment.
That doesn’t mean sports-animes which are on some level unbelievable are bad. Some of my favourite sports-animes like Akagi and One Outs concentrate on the exaggerated talent of the hero. But what I always liked about these series was that it stayed within the rules of the game and just screwed with the opponent’s mind in some way. It’s the sociopath-routine where a character who seems rather inhuman isn’t a lunatic but instead more in control of the situation than anyone else. Kuroko is in the same vein of this thinking but I think this series goes a bit too far with the talent-bit. It goes into the territory of the supernatural with Kagami pretty much being a giant and Kuroko having the gift of invisibility (having a lack of presence is one thing, downright not seeing someone is something else entirely). That way talent isn’t just being good at a game in this series, it’s an ability to do stuff nobody else can do.
It’s not a fight to the death, it’s just a sport! You just have to win the game, nobody said anything about crushing anyone…
And that pretty much sets the tone for the series, I think. This isn’t about Basketball, it’s about special people doing special stuff trying to win against other special people doing special stuff. The thing that always bugs me about plots like this is why the story is then about basketball at all. There’s no need for having basketball in this and I would think actually inventing a more colourful game to give a stage for the special people to shine is a better way to get some excitement out of this. But perhaps there are people out there who’d rather like to see their shounen-series being portrayed as normal sports. The point is that this kind of story is about exaggerated plottwists through special people doing special stuff. There’s no real sense of normalcy about the characters as it’s all about exceptional people trying to outdo each other. Obviously Kuroko is supposed to be the weak kid supposedly telling us that even the player with the worst talent can have secret talents that make him a better player than anyone else. The part where Kuroko says that he can’t best the other five of the Miracle-Generation was pretty interesting, though. Kagami is your typical shounen-hero, raw talent, ambitious and courageous – he has already everything. But Kuroko says right from the start that neither of them can be better than the other five but together they can be. It sorta gives a feeling of teamplay that most of the time gets lost in these sports-series which concentrate on one exceptional character. It’s nothing new of course, I mean, if you look at Cross Game with Kou and Azuma or Ookiku Furikabutte with Mihashi and Abe you already have examples of this kind of character-setups in the genre. But it’s certainly better than having just one exceptional character doing all the heavy lifting like Hajime no Ippo. There you get the sense that at some point a sort of hierarchy is established where one character always gets better than the others while the losing ones are always getting stronger than the previous ones.
Plotwise it’s good that the series says right from the start what it will be about. The Generation of Miracles is established and conveniently they all are on different teams meaning we get to have five “chapters” in the story so to speak. On the other hand we come back to this hierarchy-problem when the story doesn’t focus on the character-development of the protagonists but instead on the power of the characters. Like that it’s all becoming a very flashy show with no real substance to make it interesting beyond the power-contest. This series has the potential to fall into this trap. As an introduction, though, this first episode did the job of showing the cast, their exceptional abilities and what the story is about. None of the characters were particularly memorable for me, though and what I thought of instead were the character’s powers and not their personality. So I hope that the series goes a bit further in characterizing the protagonists beyond what their superpowers are.
A solid first episode for a sports-anime that clearly focuses on the exceptional talents of the characters. Sadly the characters aren’t as exceptional as their talents which make it a bit hard to build up any interest for them. The story has a clear structure, though and the first episode serves as a good introduction for what’s to come. Therefore it’s easy to judge whether you want to watch this series or not based on this first episode.