Before I properly start this review, I have to first say that this review is for ALL THREE seasons of ‘Kuroko no Basuke’ which is called ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ in English – and also officially known as ‘The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays’ (what a mouthful).
Kuroko no Basuke was my second sports anime right after I had watched the first five episodes of ‘Prince of Tennis’ and had quietly dropped it because it didn’t make me feel anything for it. This was back in 2014 and with the 1st season of the anime.
I honestly wasn’t expecting much from Kuroko no Basuke. At the time, I didn’t play the sport nor did I really care for it. The little I knew about basketball and it’s rules and regulations was from the fun as hell PlayStation 2 game ‘NBA Street V3’. The first two episodes of the 1st season didn’t really do much for me.
It was after that that I was hooked on the superpowers-meet-basketball extravaganza that is Kuroko no Basuke. From then right till the 2nd season in 2015 to the last episode of the the 3rd and final season this year, Kuroko no Basuke proved to be a wild ride.
Now even though the ride was on one hell of a beast and the fact that I had immensely enjoyed it, doesn’t mean that Kuroko no Basuke is a perfect sports anime by any means. All throughout the course of the 75 episodes (not counting specials and OVAs) I knew that this anime would have so much better if it hadn’t conformed to typical Shounen rule-book. Simply put it’s a great show but the characters and the execution need a bit of polishing.
Synopsis from MyAnimeList: Teikou Junior High School’s basketball team is crowned champion three years in a row thanks to five outstanding players who, with their breathtaking and unique skills, leave opponents in despair and fans in admiration. However, after graduating, these teammates, known as “The Generation of Miracles,” go their separate ways and now consider each other as rivals.
At Seirin High School, two newly recruited freshmen prove that they are not ordinary basketball players: Taiga Kagami, a promising player returning from the US, and Tetsuya Kuroko, a seemingly ordinary student whose lack of presence allows him to move around unnoticed. Although Kuroko is neither athletic nor able to score any points, he was a member of Teikou’s basketball team, where he played as the “Phantom Sixth Man,” who easily passed the ball and assisted his teammates.
Kuroko no Basket follows the journey of Seirin’s players as they attempt to become the best Japanese high school team by winning the Interhigh Championship. To reach their goal, they have to cross pathways with several powerful teams, some of which have one of the five players with godlike abilities, whom Kuroko and Taiga make a pact to defeat.
The synopsis easily tells you that this is you every day shounen-fest but instead of a loud-mouthed weakling yelling that he’d save the world by relying on his nakama’s (comrades’) strength, you get Kagami who is, uh… well, a loud-mouthed basketball fanatic who teams up with Kuroko, the superhuman passing machine, to defeat the ghosts of Kuroko’s past by winning the National Interhigh Championship.
It’s a rather straightforward story. Play. Encounter stronger team. Practice. Win. Meet another strong team. Grasp victory’s straw with a flexed pinky. Rinse and repeat. Whether you get bored or not by the formula is basically up to you. Kuroko no Basuke is a shounen anime: whatever happens, the final victory is guaranteed. Honestly, you can’t really make sports anime/manga without the main team finally winning that all important tournament. If they lose, no matter for how strong and impactful a message the writer is trying to pull out of his ass, it will leave a sour taste in the mouths of pretty much everyone watching. Unless if you go the Ping Pong The Animation route but the focus of it’s story is entirely on something else.
There’s not really much to say about the story itself at this point because it’s the usual. The goal of Kuroko no Basuke’s plot is not the destination: it’s the journey. Flashy dunks coupled with insane passing right down to a player perfectly imitating the play-styles of his opponents to carry the entire game by himself, Kuroko no Basuke shines in the field of pumping you up and getting you hooked to the narrative. Obviously, it feels like you’re watching a bunch of supermen scampering for a ball and that, I imagine, will be quite an annoying ordeal for some viewers. They’ll want realistic basketball. If you want that, you’re better off watching either ‘Basquash!’ or NBA matches while reading the biographies and fan rumors about the players.
Simply put, the aim of Kuroko no Basuke is to entertain you and get you hyped and possibly interested in the sport of basketball. It worked on me. I play it now. Can sometimes even pull off the passes Kuroko does.
Character development in Kuroko no Basuke is primarily just for the plot’s sake (it’s kind of hard to explain). It’s somewhat natural but it’s not really to my liking. I’m not saying I was displeased by it – just saying that it could have been done differently. It only ever seems to be apparent by the last 10 episodes of the 3rd season. Delayed background information on characters late in the story via flashbacks for suspense and wanton curiosity’s sake can really put you off.
Other than that, the characters are unique and fun to watch. Aomine, Kagami’s main rival and Kuroko’s original partner, has to be my favorite. Kise is a close-second followed by Midorima as they have opposite personalities that click well and undergo the most development (that is done right).
The animation by Production I.G. is top-notch. When the characters are not in a game, it’s pretty normal by keeping it clean with a half-comic half-serious style. Where the animation really shines is during the matches. It becomes a tad smoother and more expressive. But wait, there’s more! It goes full super-saiyan mode when important plays occur and when the matches reach their all time high. Imagining the Aomine vs Kagami showdown in season 2 and the final showdown in season 3 at 60 frames-per-season with THAT animation quality just gives me goosebumps.
The sound fits the show perfectly. Electric guitar heavy rock dominates the Openings and the background music while mellow boyband-esque songs play in the Endings. Granrodeo’s songs really put the spirit of the show into the Openings. The first Opening ‘Can Do It’ is the best.
If the last-second wins didn’t occur so often, the superhuman abilities of the players didn’t get too absurd at times, and Kise didn’t get abused so damn much (lol); then Kuroko no Basuke would have been quite an exceptional romp of entertainment. With an 8.5/10 from me, I have to say that it’s one of the best anime available in the sports genre.