Quarantine Post #67: Kuroko’s Basketball

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So I usually have a hard time when choosing new anime. In my times of need, I turn to those who have seen more shows than me on anime twitter. I usually get all kinds of recommendations. I had a lot of people talk about sports anime… I often wondered if they could make a basketball/baseball story that could keep my attention. I was never into watching basketball in life so I doubted that I would care enough about this story to give it a try. And those feelings were bolstered by the fact that I tried watching it early on… and fizzled out after the first episode. I couldn’t have been more wrong. (I found out that really it was my lack of drive. Pandemic life is draining but I have that urge to get things off my anime watch list again.) With the help of some of my friends online, I jumped in with both feet.

Also, I was excited. Very rarely do people recommend me things that I do not enjoy. I am pretty easy to please and will try any show once. I am pretty sure I remember seeing this manga on the shelf at the used bookstore. And too bad for me… I assumed I knew what the story consisted of and I was totally wrong. Never judge a book by its cover. If you want to see it… Check out Crunchyroll or Netflix.

The narrator tells us early on that the basketball team of Teikō Middle School were some beasts. Somewhere in my mind, I thought that was an understatement… almost like I have never watched anime… Anyway, they demolished all competition. The starters of the team became known as the “Generation of Miracles”. 5 players that were beasts in their own right and definitely unbeatable together. But as all good things come to an end… so did middle school leaving all of the players to attend different high schools. While everyone knows the names of the Generation of Miracles, they forget about the sixth man. Kuroko Tetsuya ends up at Seirin High school along with Kagami Taiga… Kagami has spent time in the US playing basketball and is looking for the strongest opponents to go against. They want to be the best in Japan… (very shonen for you. I don’t have a problem with it.) They plan to go through Kuroko’s former teammates to do so.

Kagami and Kuroko’s friendship is the foundation for the show… and a large part of the team. When they are out of synch, Seirin is in trouble.

We meet Kuroko’s past teammates one by one… and initially, they don’t seem so bad. Cocky… sure… but anyone who can’t be beat can be accused of being cocky. First up… Kise Ryōta. was the Generation of Miracles’ small forward who now plays at Kaijō High. He introduces himself in the second episode… Kise is first seen when going to greet Kuroko in Seirin High School. Seirin’s training is underway and Kise stands in the shadows.. he is soon given away because of all the girls screaming for his attention. Riko and the others recognize Kise immediately. They ask him why he is here, to which he answers that he was curious when he heard that his opponent was going to be Seirin, as he knew that that was where Kuroko plays, and he decided to take a look. He claims that he is the weakest member of the Generation of Miracles… and that can be a bit misleading. He doesn’t even acknowledge Kagami at first who gets him to play a one on one battle. Kuroko comments that this will be bad, while Kise takes it immediately to the hoop. To everyone’s surprise, he passes Kagami with the same move Kagami was seen doing just a while ago. Kagami keeps his head cool and jumps for the block, but Kise is stronger than him and dunks it. As Kagami is falling, he realizes that Kise’s cut was better, faster, and stronger than his. Poor boy underestimated the competition… Kise tries to get Kuroko to change schools… Kise explains that he respects Kuroko very much and says that Kuroko is wasting his talent away, thus the reason why he’s offering him to play together again. Kuroko refuses his offer very formally and Kuroko tells him he can’t leave because he made a promise with Kagami to defeat the Generation of Miracles but it is to no avail and I was left wondering if the Generation of Miracles left each other on good terms. On the day of the match, Kaijō has underestimated Seirin… They bench Kise thinking the game will be over shortly… They don’t even want to use the full court. They are actually using half of it for practice as usual. This angers Seirin, as they realize very quickly how much Kaijō looks down on them. Kise tells Kagami and Kuroko that if they can’t even get him to play, then they don’t have the right to say they’ll take down the Generation of Miracles.The match begins and Kuroko and Kagami quickly surprise everyone by destroying the backboard during a dunk. Kaijō’s coach, shocked, finally decides to take them seriously and prepares the whole court for their match. To Kise, Kagami, and Kuroko’s delight, Kise is called over by his coach. The match restarts and Kise can finally play. Kise… has an annoying special power…he has the ability to copy someone’s movements in no time due to his visual comprehension skill. He only has to see a technique one time to completely copy it and make it his own. His copying ability doesn’t stop there as he copies the technique but plays it with more power and speed than the original. The match begins again and Kise quickly takes up to the goal. Hyūga is guarding him and tries to block Kise’s dunk, but Kise copies Kagami’s previous dunk and overpowers Hyūga. Kasamatsu scolds him again, saying that he should have broken the backboard like Kagami, but Kagami realizes that Kise’s dunk was way more powerful than his. And the battle is on. Kagami faces off against Kise and does a fade-away. Kise manages to block the ball partially. Now Kise is on the offense and does the same fade-away Kagami did a moment ago but with more speed and power. Kagami can’t block it and Kise scores. Kise acknowledges that Kuroko’s style of playing is the only one he can’t copy, but he doesn’t see what difference it makes because he feels they are going to crush Seirin. (Interesting tidbit.) Kuroko ends up having to leave the game… and Seirin learns that he can’t use his misdirection all game. The longer he uses it, the less effective it becomes. Something that Kise knows from playing with him in middle school. It becomes a battle for points. After yet another block by Kise, he tells Kagami to just give up and that the difference in strength is clear. Kagami is unphased, he even starts laughing and is glad that Kise puts up a challenge. Anytime a character starts laughing in the face of a loss… shit is about to go down. When Kuroko re-enters the game and Seirin ties the score, Kise decides to get real. The match goes back to a struggle for points, with Kise scoring most of the points for Kaijō. With three seconds left and the score tied, Kagami and Kuroko make a turnover. Kise awaits them at the goal and Kagami passes to Kuroko. Kise reasons Kuroko can’t possibly shoot and Kuroko does indeed pass to Kagami in the air for an ally-hoop. Kise anticipates this and jumps between Kagami and the basket but finds himself dropping first. Kise is amazed by Kagami’s jumping power and Kagami dunks, making the score 100 to 98 and thus taking the win. Kise is devastated but gets over it quickly, promising to train harder. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhXaPUWEjek)

Kise showing up with his legions of fans.
He only saw the move one time. That’s a monster…

Kise is easy to like because he is pretty easygoing off the court. And has intensity on the court especially when truly challenged. Before getting into playing basketball, Kise was constantly bored and apathetic due to him easily being able to master any sport in a short time. You will see a lot of apathy in the Generation of Miracles… it almost makes you sad. In his second year in Teikō Junior High, Kise used his copying ability in P.E. to get an A. Even though he was popular, good-looking, and talented, he was very bored because no matter what sport he tried, he had no competition. He was strolling around the school when a basketball hit his head. The ball belonged to Aomine, who apologized and ran back to training. Kise followed him and saw him play. He was perplexed and thought to himself that he had finally found his competition. He applied for the basketball club and got approved and, in no time, belonged to the regulars. I know a few overly talented people that have a hard time keeping interested with hobbies because they too lose interest. Kise’s first reaction to Kuroko is not great. (An understatement.) By the time we see it though, it is par for the course for reactions to him. He can’t understand why someone like Kuroko would be paired with him as a mentor. Until they play a game together. We saw this when Kuroko plays in practice with Seirin. Shortly after… Kuroko earns the respect of Kise. (I have been mildly surprised that Kuroko is able to play high-level ball with the Generation of Miracles and he can’t shoot to save his life.

Next of The Generation of Miracles is Midorima… Have you ever seen a person that can shoot from anywhere? He is that person. He can be a bit condescending but he is not as bad as he seems. He moved from the middle school team to play for one of the Three Kings of Tokyo, Shūtoku High. Kagami, Kuroroko and Seirin take on Midorima and Shutoku in the semi finals of the interhigh games. For the first two minutes of the game, neither of the teams is able to score a point, until Takao passes the ball to Midorima who scores a three-pointer. Kuroko then picks the ball back up using a Cyclone Pass, making the ball fly past Midorima and leading to Kagami scoring Seirin’s first points. But can you really defend a man that never misses a three? Seirin still attempts a comeback but fails. Midorima then displays his shooting range by shooting a perfect three-pointer from the centerline. Kagami counters his shot display by doing a self alley-oop. Feeling mocked by this, Midorima then shoots from the other side of the court with all of Seirin including the bench and Riko shocked and overwhelmed. How do you defend a man that can shoot from anywhere? The Seirin second years are relying on the three of them instead of Kagami and Kuroko. No matter how many times they score, Midorima is still unable to be stopped by Seirin, with Midorima’s shooting, Kagami begins to laugh and decides to stop working with his team. I wanted to throw something at him… He was doing so well. I still end up a bit annoyed. The fourth quarter begins with Seirin scoring the first points Midorima also observes that Kagami isn’t playing on his own anymore, but that his stamina has also run out. Kagami uses the first of his last two super jumps to block Midorima’s first shot in the game. Kagami is running himself into the ground and that blows. He won’t last in the tournament you can tell already. With Kuroko being able to use his Misdirection again, Shūtoku is called on a time out. With only two minutes remaining Midorima continues to shoot due to Kagami being unable to jump high anymore. Hyūga makes Seirin’s final shot, making the score 82-81. But Kagami puts his health at risk to block Midorima’s shot. The game is intense and fast-paced. More exciting than I thought it would be. I didn’t expect to be invested in the story like I was. I was pretty annoyed that Kagami hurt his legs. Somewhere, deep down I knew he wouldn’t rest like he was supposed to.

Takao often calls him a tsundere, ( and that is an understatement.) because he tends to help people but denies doing so. My favorite is when they kept catching him coming to watch people’s games in disguise. (By disguise, I mean, sunglasses… indoors. He doesn’t even live near the arena.) Midorima has good insight and is able to understand other people’s abilities easily, like Kagami or Kuroko’s. He sometimes gives them advice under the guise of scorn and criticism. He helped Kagami with his aerial understanding and pushed Kuroko to play by himself, leading to the development of the Vanishing Drive. Out of the Generation of Miracles, he is the only one that continues practicing. (More on that later.)

The next… and probably the most dynamic of the Generation of Miracles… is Daiki Aomine. Aomine is a beast in every sense of the word. He was the main antagonist until the first round of the Winter Cup. Kagami and Aomine are a lot alike. Both Kuroko and Momoi have commented that Kagami reminds them of Aomine before the Ennui… more on that later. After battling with Kise in the practice game… Kagami thinks he is ready for the others. They cross paths at the Interhigh Basketball Tournament. After beating Shutoku, Seirin moves on to the preliminaries finals. After the match, Momoi calls Midorima on her cell phone, which Aomine takes away from her. Midorima warns him to be wary of Seirin. Aomine responds that that’s ridiculous and concludes that the only one who can beat him is himself. He really makes you want to punch him…  Aomine finds Kagami practicing at an outside court. Aomine challenges Kagami and Kagami rudely asks him who he is. Aomine gives him his name and Kagami realizes that he’s one of the Generation of Miracles. Kagami is easy to goad… too easy. Should he be resting…? Sure. Will he rest? Not at all. Aomine belittles Kagami, and finally, Kagami takes him on, Aomine’s arrogance angering him. Aomine overpowers Kagami and tells him his partnership with Kuroko will fail because Kagami’s “light is too dim”, before dashing past him and finishing the one-on-one. The sad thing is… Kagami is unaware of the history that Aomine shares with Kuroko. Later, Kagami is shocked and exhausted; he couldn’t defeat Aomine. Aomine is severely disappointed. He can’t believe Kagami defeated Midorima. Kagami is sitting on the steps downcast. He feels like he can never win against Aomine. The only other time he’s felt this way is with Kise. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj-xcKQE6Co)

One compelling thing about the for lack of a better word, the rivalry between Kagami and Aomine… is that Kagami’s relationship with Kuroko mirrors Aomine’s past relationship with Kuroko. Aomine attended Junior High school in Teikō for three years. He joined the basketball club as a first-year and was put into the first-string team immediately. When he meets Kuroko, he is impressed with Kuroko’s love for basketball. Kuroko and Aomine start practicing together and become good friends. Aomine also persuaded Kuroko to keep playing basketball when he wanted to quit, saying that his determination to practice hard even though he isn’t the best has also motivated Aomine himself. When Kuroko eventually joined the regulars of Teikō, Aomine and Kuroko were perfectly adaptable. Kuroko’s misdirection and invisible passes connected with Aomine’s strength and the two brought out the best in each other. This was the start of the first “light and shadow” relationship. The relationship soured because Aomine skills were the first to blossom… and it was hard to find opponents to play with him any longer. There was no one that matched his skill, that kept determination throughout the whole game. For Aomine, it creates a sort of apathy towards the game that he loves. His derailment is the first to start the distance in the Generation of Miracles.  Aomine’s share in the points was overwhelming, and he stood out above the rest too much. He starts by not coming to practice. In his mind, there is no reason to keep getting better if it widens the gap between him and other people. He tells Kuroko that the game has become boring for him. Midorima clarified that Aomine needs a strong rival, but never found one. In games, Aomine began to do just the minimum to ensure his team’s victory. Kuroko tries to convince him otherwise and says that he would surely meet his rival one day, and Aomine believes that for a while, starting to try harder again. However, he grew even more powerful, and seeing his mentally crushed opponents, changed his mind. I personally have not experienced this type of apathy. Thank Goodness. But I do know the feeling of ennui. Nothing bringing you joy, or things that used to bring you joy no longer bring joy or fulfillment.

At the Interhigh preliminaries, the first match is Seirin vs Tōō, and both teams arrived at the gym, with only Aomine missing. Momoi calls him on his cell phone and Aomine is revealed to still be at school, having overslept but he is not worried because he tells his team that Seirin’s not that big a deal and that it’ll be fine. Aomine shows up to the game moments before the first half ends. He is forced by his coach and teammates to play. Aomine receives the ball immediately. He breaks past Kagami with ease but Hyuga is there. Aomine spins past him; however, in that moment Kagami catches up to him and blocks him. Aomine is surprised and stumbles, but he reacts quickly enough to block Kagami’s fast-break dunk. The half ends with him saying that Seirin is actually not that bad. Would this be an anime if there wasn’t happiness in the face of a worthy opponent? My problem is… Kagami is outmatched… however… add to that the fact that he is still hurt. His legs are mush. Because of that… he was given no practice time prior to the game.

Suddenly, Riko notices something and orders Koganei to substitute with Kagami. Irritated, Kagami sits down on the bench. Riko tells him she noticed that his legs haven’t completely healed yet. Kagami doesn’t respond; she then adds that she’ll tape them up so he can reenter the game. While Kagami is out of the game, Seirin struggles against Tōō. In the end… It is a deciding defeat at the hands of Aomine. He is nasty.  Kagami is unable to match Aomine’s speed and Seirin is unable to stop any of Aomine’s impossible shooting styles—the shots defy common sense. Everyone is shocked as they watch Aomine shoot with his body almost parallel to the ground. Kagami watches helplessly with a towel draped over his head as Seirin struggles valiantly, but still loses to Tōō. The final score is Tōō 112 – Seirin 55. And so Seirin is out. Even with his cocky attitude though, I enjoy Aomine the most. I can see what Kagami would turn into if he starts to rely on himself and not the team… I spent much of the show wondering if Aomine would ever get back to his old self… or if Kuroko would lose another friend to the dark side.

WINTER CUP

Coach Riko lets it be known that they have no time to mourn the Interhigh Tournament. Because there is another tournament that they have to get ready for in the winter. I knew that it was too early to defeat the Generation. The Generation could only get better than they were in middle school. Kagami and Kuroko wouldn’t be able to top them right away… so onward. So in preparation for the new tournament, Seirin has a summer training camp. Kagami hones his jumping skills but it is Midorima who points out, that’s not enough to beat Aomine, and that he’ll prove that to him. He tells Kagami to try to score against him even once out of ten. Kagami loses each time; unable to understand why. Later, Kagami is frustrated that Midorima made him realize two things 1. To strengthen his legs and hips 2. To improve his left ball handling skills so he’ll be able to move at will in the air. Seirin head into the Winter Cup preliminaries, this time, however, they are on guard about how teams they faced previously have grown and changed. They start the Winter Cup with Kyoshi Teppei back at center. So there is more heart to the team. Seirin starts the winter cup against Josei High who is leading with 8 points and Kagami is shown to be completely stuck with two players guarding him at all times. When Kagami gets the ball, he sees the demotivated defense and breaks through. He is immediately guarded but that is useless, as Kagami jumps from the free-throw line and dunks the ball. This extraordinary feat, the lane-up, brings Kagami closer to the Generation of Miracles and breaks an imaginary gate of the geniuses. The match eventually ends with Seirin’s win.

Now, it is time for round 1 of the Winter Cup. Nothing about the Winter Cup is going to be easy. Kagami practiced in America with his old basketball master, Alexandra Garcia. Kagami played against gangsters and thugs for money to regain his animal instinct. For round one, we waste no time… Seirin is back against Tōō and Aomine. Kuroko declares that Seirin will not lose a second time and Aomine agrees to settle it this time for sure. The match begins with the tip-off and Seirin gains the ball. Izuki dribbles the ball up fast and Seirin prepares for a fast and strong offensive, but a strong defensive Tōō awaits them. The ball gets stolen and Aomine eventually dunks the first point. (Ugh… I should have seen that coming. I still wanted Kagami to strike first blood.)  The ball goes to Kuroko and he uses his new Ignite Pass Kai and is able to pass to Kiyoshi, who goes for the dunk. However, Wakamatsu appears and almost blocks Kiyoshi. Kiyoshi is still able to pass behind him to Kagami, who suddenly dunks and repays Aomine’s favor. But this match is really about the aces Kagami and Aomine. I very much enjoyed watching Kagami work through how the one-on-one will go in his head using a high-level tactical battle. In this simulation, Kagami senses that he will lose if he goes up against Aomine now and passes the ball to Izuki. When the drive and later the Ignite Pass Kai both fail against Aomine, Kagami tries to block him, but Aomine shoots beside him and scores. Seirin takes a time-out and while Kuroko is subbed out and is feeling despair, (So was I.) Kagami tells him that his effort wasn’t futile, that he will handle Aomine until Kuroko comes back. Aomine carries the ball and when Kagami attempts to steal, he forces Aomine to go for the shot. Kagami takes the shot. Seeing an awakened Kagami, Aomine acknowledges him and starts to get serious. He speeds up, but Kagami can still keep up. The match goes on with face-off after face-off between Kagami and Aomine, with Aomine almost breaking through, but Kagami’s defense stays steady. The reason why Kagami is able to keep up with Aomine’s top speed is because he is only relying on his animal, raw instinct.

Seirin High has reached the point where it has exhausted all its options and is likely to lose. But then Kuroko activates his Misdirection Overflow and gives his teammates the possibility to use the Vanishing Drive. There are only 5 seconds left and the current score is 99 – 100, with Tōō still in the lead. Kiyoshi receives a free throw due to a foul made by Wakamatsu, he misses but Kagami appears under the hoop to save the ball. Kagami is blocked by Aomine surely resulting in Too’s victory.  Kagami receives Kuroko’s pass and dunks the ball scoring for Seirin. The buzzer-beater rang with Seirin as the victors. There was no one more hype than me. I wondered if Aomine being beat would restore his faith in the game. More importantly… we are onto the next round. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIp-h-a1ZH4)

The next few rounds were won with minimal effort from Kagami and Kuroko. I had forgotten that both Kagami and Kuroko were first years. They are having a huge impact on the team. Here is where we battle against Atsushi Murasakibara and Yōsen High. It isn’t the first time we met Murasakibara. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MXY2okLg9A) Now… Murasakibara is not a character I like or dislike… He just is… but as a ballplayer, he is a beast. Contrary to the impression his height gives, Murasakibara acts very lumpishly. He fools around at serious times, which is not always well received. He is mildly sadistic and childish. Ripping a person’s eyebrows off that you just met… CHILDISH… He claims that the only reason he plays basketball, is because he’s good at it, he doesn’t care for the sport at all. He has always told others that he dislikes, is bored by, and even hates players who play basketball with passion, even when they are losing. 

In the quarter-finals, Murasakibara easily outjumps Kiyoshi during the tip-off and gives Yōsen possession; however, this is overruled by the referee as he jumped before the ball had reached its maximum height. (It annoys his teammates and coach because apparently, he does it a lot.) Possession is then awarded to Seirin, Hyūga then attempts a jump shot, but Murasakibara shows off his fast reflexes by blocking Hyūga’s shot. With the way Murasakibara is playing… there isn’t a zone he can’t defend.  He is not only big and fast, but he also has a huge wingspan. His coach says that the entire area inside of the three-point arc is “his domain”. Yōsen scores their first points, but after the inbounds pass, Kuroko throws a full-court pass to Izuki who runs up the court but is confronted by Murasakibara, who is not participating in the offense. Masako says that although she doesn’t like players who don’t run up and down the court, the Yōsen defense is complete with Murasakibara himself. Many of the games Yōsen has played in the past have ended with the opposing not scoring any points. Kiyoshi attempts to lose Murasakibara using a spin move, but Murasakibara scorns Kiyoshi for believing that he could pass him with such skill and blocks him. Kiyoshi then reveals that he had a different plan all along and throws an alley-oop to Kagami who attempts to dunk but is blocked again by Murasakibara as his height and wingspan helped him block Kiyoshi’s first attempt without jumping. Cheeky Bastard. But it is Kuroko who scores the first basket. In a subsequent play, the last of the second quarter, Kuroko manages to score another basket past Murasakibara with the Phantom Shot, and the score stands at 29 – 17 with Yosen up. Shout out to Aomine for teaching Kuroko to shoot. I figured Kuroko would have to learn how to shoot at some point. Murasakibara is surprised because he thought Kuroko couldn’t shoot. At the start of the second half, Murasakibara is fired up… maybe too much so because he decides to go on the offensive.

After scoring a few more points, Murasakibara resolves to “wring the pride” out of Seirin, participating in the Yōsen offense for the first time.  On the bench, Kuroko mentions that Murasakibara once scored 100 points in a single game when he got serious. At one point, Kiyoshi attempts a layup but then converts it into a pass to avoid Murasakibara’s block. However, Murasakibara swats the pass away with his left hand and dunks on the Yōsen possession so powerfully that he brings down the hoop, leaving a shocked Seirin wondering how they can possibly “stop this beast.” Beast is the right word because what freshman is bringing down the house like this? The Battle under the basket is not looking good for Kyoshi. He is being outmatched. And even more so when you figure that he is injured. Kuroko says that he will not lose to someone who looks down upon the efforts of others, prompting Murasakibara to shout that Kuroko’s ideals made him sick. The match goes on and each team continues to dominate the other’s defense, with Seirin trailing by a small margin.  As Seirin is on the verge of taking the lead, Murasakibara suddenly manages to enter the Zone during the last 20 seconds. In this state, Murasakibara nearly overpowers Kagami on a dunk attempt, but the latter is assisted by Kiyoshi in stopping the dunk. Aomine, Kise, and Kagami were the ones who realized that Murasakibara had entered the zone. Aomine and Kise being spectators. Kagami performs a final Meteor Jam, out jumping Murasakibara for the basket and the lead. Refusing to give up, Murasakibara had already run to the other side of the court, preparing for one last dunk to win the game. However, he finds himself unable to jump because Kiyoshi playing point guard forced him to jump continuously and his knees have reached their limit. Murasakibara, knowing a dunk is unnecessary, as his height and nearness to the basket will allow him to easily score with a layup, goes for the final shot, but Kuroko blocks him before he can, securing the victory for Seirin. Did not see that coming. Well, that is not true. I knew Seirin would win because this story is about them but not in the way that they did.

I got a weird satisfaction from watching him cry after his loss though. He had been so condescending to people prior to that even Tatsuya his own teammate. He even said he would quit. Odd behavior because you’re not shutting people out like you do all the time. To be fair though, when he got going and in the zone, he was damn near unstoppable. But I believe that a lot of these kids had a lot to learn. The

Kagami doesn’t play Shūtoku or Midorima again since he is knocked out of the finals by Akashi and Rakuzen. Kagami does get a taste of Akashi and his abilities when they first meet outside the Winter Cup. Kagami was trying to be rude though… (Does that mean he should be STABBED? No.) With Kagami coming from America… he is running late. Kuroko gets summoned to meet his former teammates outside… Kagami crashes the party. LOL. Akashi arrives late. Midorima brings his lucky scissors… it all seems like a bad idea. When Kagami attempts to talk… he almost gets jabbed in the face. Akashi’s weird-ass then cuts his own hair… (as my friend said… WITHOUT A MIRROR LIKE A PSYCHO!!) Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80JGifOoOcA&t=17s) Their next encounter is not much better. Poor Kagami… The Seirin team goes to watch the first semi-finals, Rakuzan High vs Shūtoku High. At half-time, Seirin and Kaijō enter the court to warm up. Akashi comes face to face with Kagami and Kuroko and he greets Kuroko. Kagami towers before him and tells Akashi that he will definitely crush him and Kise too. Akashi replies that he certainly acknowledges his strength, but that only those who serve him are allowed to look him in the eye and gives him a warning that no one who opposes him is allowed to look down on him. He uses his Emperor Eye and presses on Kagami’s shoulder, causing him to fall to the ground. Akashi leaves and Kagami is shocked. I would say he is a gluten for punishment. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBkKb9OzZ-Y)

As Rakuzan High emerges victorious, it is now time for their own match against Kaijō High. Both teams are warming up quietly, though they are burning with fighting spirit. Kasamatsu breaks the uneasiness and tells Kise to give them a greeting. Kise happily agrees and dunks a Lane-up copying Kagami. He points to Seirin that it is a declaration of war. Kagami and Kuroko return the favor by doing Lane-up Alley-oop. This game is intense. More so because Kise has not underestimated his opponents. Ever since the practice game… Kise has been out for revenge. The match then commences. Both teams bow and Kise approaches him telling him that his previous loss is still on his mind and realizes he will do anything for basketball and for winning. Kagami bluntly calls him soft and says to get started already, grinning. That probably wasn’t smart. At the tip-off, Kise activates his Perfect Copy using Midorima’s signature shot. Kise turns to Kagami and says there is no way he has gone soft. Kise continues to use the Generation of Miracles’ techniques ankle-breaking Kuroko and overpowering Kiyoshi and Kagami using Thor’s Hammer, the signature dunk of Murasakibara. 3 minutes into the game, and Kaijō is up by 13. Kise comments that Perfect Copy is tiring and deactivates it to reserve its last 2 minutes for later. He says that he has completed his mission and the flow is now on his team. It is true. And at one point during the game, I was really worried that Seirin would not make it.

The focus of the match shift to a battle of point guards, Izuki vs Kasamatsu. When Kasamatsu fails to attack, he decides to pass it on Kise, once again facing Kagami. Kise copies his drive and fade away but because his leg is still hurting, he failed to reach the decent height of his jump and was blocked by Kagami. Seirin better be glad that he overworked his body because that perfect copy is ridiculous. I am not sure that they would have won otherwise. If Kise gets it perfected, a lot of teams are in trouble. Kise did try it out on Aomine… and that was interesting. Honestly, I thought Kise is the strongest of the Generation with Aomine being a close second. Kise reflects on his first meeting with Kagami; a feeling that turned into suspicion and now he’s sure. He calls Kagami a part of Generation of Miracles who chose a different path, who has this so-called “instinct”. His determination to defeat Kagami grows stronger. Gotta love the coaches in this show though. They really do care about the players. A gap seems to be opening between the two aces but Kise does not give up. However Kaijō’s coach, Takeuchi suddenly calls for Kise’s substitution to Nakamura. Kagami feeling bad for Kise says that they won’t hold back because it’s the same as looking down on them. The match resumes and as the game progresses, Seirin steadily increases their lead over Kaijō leading by 15 with 4 minutes left. Kise refusing to sit on the bench any longer demands to be put in until their coach finally gives in. When Kise receives the ball, he hardens his resolve and activates the Perfect Copy to drive past Kagami combining Aomine’s speed and Akashi’s ankle breaker. With only a few seconds left, Kuroko calls out to Kagami who looks like he will miss the shot because he has not perfected it outside the zone and is about to release the ball. Instead, he passes the ball off the backboard bouncing towards Kuroko who scores with the Phantom Shot and made the winning buzzer-beater. Kise could do nothing about it. On some level, I really felt bad for Kise. He has worked really hard. I didn’t feel bad for Aomine. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTOh6Lv6IXI)

The finals start. That puts Seirin up against Akashi and Rakuzen. While all the other games up to this point were intense… this is by far the most intense. Before the finals, Kagami finds Midorima standing on the court. Midorima warns Kagami to understand what he’s up against. Midorima tells him Akashi doesn’t need his teammates. Midorima tells Kagami he relies on one person while Akashi is not one, but two people. (What does that mean? I need answers.) Kuroko and Akashi have an interesting history. Not as dynamic as his history with Aomine. Is Akashi weird? Sure. Is there a reason that he is weird…? That is up to you.

Throughout the show, Akashi is a bit of an enigma. We know that he was the captain of the Generation of Miracles. But for some reason, he is the most fearsome of the group. We see a few flashbacks but not enough to get the full story. Akashi was born from a rich family that possesses their own business. Being the only heir in their family, he was obligated to succeed in all areas by his strict father. His only support at that time was his kind mother whom he spends his free time while playing basketball. She was the one that introduced him to the sport. However, in his 5th year in elementary school, his mother died because of an illness but never got a break as his father became even more strict to the point that the more skills he mastered, the more he will be given to master. Due to the way Akashi grew up during childhood, he developed a strong winners-mentality, believing that winners get everything in life while losers are denied all. Akashi views himself as absolute in power and skill and grows extremely violent when anyone disobeys his commands as shown when he tried to stab Kagami with the scissors he borrowed from Midorima when Kagami disobeyed him. Initially, Akashi’s personality was that of a person who respected his teammates, while still holding that winners-mentality. Akashi also cared and appreciated the fans that gave him daily support and focused solely on team play with his team. However, the second personality first manifested when  Akashi is confronted at the possibility of defeat against fellow teammate Atsushi Murasakibara. The second personality became the dominant and activates the Emperor Eye skill for the first time, allowing him to seize victory. This second personality would later sever core teamwork aspects and viewed that coordinated team plays were not the way to victory, which eventually led to Kuroko leaving the team. Now what we see Kise do against Kagami as part of the perfect copy… is only a tip of the iceberg when comes to what Aksashi can actually do. As my dad used to say “I taught you everything you know, not everything I know.”

In the beginning, Kuroko tells Kagami that they are nowhere near equipped to go at the Generation of Miracles. And when he sees how Kise has transformed, he says it again outright. In awe, I gather, because he didn’t see how much more they could have progressed. We see, game after game early on, that Kuroko hasn’t progressed like the others have. We also learn over the course of the show… that… Akashi is the one who taught him the misdirection passing and is the one that pulls for him to become the first string. So, it has to be difficult to constantly face players that know about you because they have played with you… but you don’t know much about them anymore. (Remember Kise is the one that tells his team that the misdirection of Kuroko’s will wear off soon.) Aomine tells Kuroko that he is disappointed… because he hasn’t grown any since they have seen each other. So there is a lot of anticipation to be had when the finals for the Winter Cup occur.

The game starts with Seirin getting the ball and attempting to score the first basket, but just when Hyūga was about to score, he is stopped by Mibuchi who gets the ball for Rakuzan. Akashi gets the ball and passes it to Nebuya who attempts to score but is stopped by Kagami. So right from the beginning, it is a back and forth. Kagami is overly cautious and so am I. Because Akashi hasn’t started up yet. Seirin gets the ball again and counter-attacks. Kagami dribbles the ball to Rakuzan’s basket when suddenly Akashi appears marking him. Kagami finds his resolve to win the match and suddenly jumps to dunk the Meteor Jam over Akashi, scoring the first basket of the match. Akashi notices that Kagami has entered the Zone. Maybe it was me… but it was too soon to zone. Like you still don’t even know anything about this man and what he can do. Kagami has entered the Zone, resulting in Seirin leading the match. With the score of 11 – 2 for Seirin, Akashi doesn’t seem too bothered. First red flag. On the court, Akashi decides to switch marks with Hayama to mark Kagami. As the match continues, the attention is on Kagami and Akashi. Kagami tries to pass Akashi, but Akashi uses his Emperor Eye to try and stop him. Shocking everyone, Kagami evades the Emperor Eye and advances further to the basket. Kagami uses his Meteor Jam to score but the shot doesn’t go in. Damn… well here it is.

It’s Rakuzan’s counterattack and Akashi has the ball. Kagami goes on to mark him but Akashi uses his Ankle Break to make Kagami fall and pass him. He tells Kagami not to underestimate yet again, as the Ankle Break Kise used against him was only a fake and that he should not compare the two. When the first quarter ends, Akashi remarks that he’s grasped the extent of Seirin’s abilities, and he plans to let the three Uncrowned Generals take care of the offense, and let Mayuzumi take care of the passes. Here is where shit really hits the fan. The second quarter begins. When Mayuzumi reveals his misdirection, Seirin is surprised and Akashi states that he is the new model of the Phantom Sixth Man. A new model because… he can shoot. Like Kuroko couldn’t. What is Seirin going to do against misdirection and what are they going to do without Kuroko. As the game continues, there is little Kagami and Seirin can do against Akashi’s Emperor’s Eye. Rakuzan continues their play by passing the ball to Mayuzumi who passes the ball using his misdirection. Akashi faces Kagami who has the ball and steals it with his Emperor Eye, scoring the basket. Kuroko faces Mayuzumi in a one-on-one battle and overwrites him, surprising both Akashi and the rest of the Rakuzan players. Kuroko slowly gains his misdirection back. That means this is shaping up to be a real game. Akashi is pressured by Kagami and relies on the three Uncrowned Kings for the offense. Once all three have lost on their own, Akashi discards his trust in them and decided to start playing by himself.

 Akashi stops Kagami’s Meteor Jam before he could take off. Akashi enters the Zone. Once in the Zone, Akashi’s speed and reaction time have increased. Akashi uses his Ankle Break on Izuki and Hyūga, leaving them kneeled while outrunning a trailing Kagami. and scores the basket against Kuroko and Kiyoshi who were the last line of defense. Seirin decides to leave everything to Kagami. He better figure out what to do. Because Akashi is unstoppable right now. There was one point where Akashi dunked on everyone and you guys should have seen the way my mouth dropped. The match resumes and Akashi blocks Kiyoshi’s dunk attempt. Akashi dribbles the ball but is faced by Kagami and Kuroko who double team him. Akashi notes that he will evade Kagami easily and that Kuroko wouldn’t keep up with the speed of the two of them. Akashi uses his Emperor Eye to evade Kagami but was surprised that Kuroko kept up with him to steal the ball for Seirin Akashi was stunned for a few seconds and became furious as a turnover happened to him. He quickly runs to stop Kagami and catches up after the latter drives past Hayama. He uses his Emperor Eye to steal the ball but before he could, Kuroko snatches the ball away from Kagami using his Quasi-Emperor Eye. Kuroko and Kagami do an alley-oop but Akashi goes to block Kagami once again. Kagami dunks and overwhelms Akashi due to his determination to win for his team. Everyone was shocked, especially Akashi as he faces loss for the first time in his life, something both Murasakibara and Aomine notice when Akashi misses his three-pointer. Kise notes as well that Akashi is now out of the Zone. Now this is exciting. The next plays eventually gives Seirin the momentum as a broken Akashi continues to make errors. There is something that tickles me about the fact that each of the Generation of Miracles have no clue how to deal with losing at all. After the game resumes, Akashi shows his perfect playmaking and Rakuzan widens the lead by 5 points. Kagami realizes Akashi has entered the Zone again. Akashi warns him about what he thinks while admitting that he just returned to his form and may not be able to make a difference on his own, but the other four will be a different matter. Everyone was shocked that the other four had entered a Zone-like state as well. Apparently, Akashi’s other talent is making his teammates better. That is a problem. Riko realises there is nothing else Seirin can do to attain victory as the team loses hope once again. Rakuzan is on the defense but Akashi notices that the Seirin players are perfectly synchronized with Kagami. On the sidelines Aomine laughs in realization of the true form of the Zone, something which Akashi realizes as well. The new Direct Drive Zone allows all the Seirin players to thrive off of each other.

 The audience cheers but it is a heavy loss for Seirin as they only have forty-one seconds left to catch up to a seven-point gap difference. During Seirin’s counterattack, Rakuzan moves to defense. And there is a lot of pressure on them. Akashi calls out to Mayuzumi as he notices that Kuroko has no mark. Kuroko receives the ball and performs a lateral long pass to pass the ball to Kagami who scores a three-pointer. The gap between the two teams shrank with the current score being, 101 – 105.  Izuki passes to Hyūga instead who copies Mibuchi’s “Earth” shooting form and scores the basket, making Mibuchi foul in the process due to the nature of the shot. Uh-oh… this could be the chance. We have seen this type of thing before. The players get into position for the free throw as Hyūga shoots and Kiyoshi gets the rebound. Kiyoshi then passes the ball to Kuroko who catches it and prepares to shoot. Akashi, however, jumps to block him and tells him that this is the end. Kuroko tells him otherwise, that it is not the end, and tells him that he is a shadow. Kuroko shoots but it turns out to be an alley-oop with Kagami as he dunks the ball into the hoop. The buzzer-beater rings as Seirin emerge as the victors of the match with a score of 106 – 105. Akashi and his team are in shock after their defeat. Akashi finally learns the meaning of defeat and describes it as immense pain in the chest. However, due to this pain, he can truly appreciate playing basketball and having met Kuroko.

This show was much better than I imagined. Like I said before, I am not riveted by basketball as I am with any other sport. But I think that some of where that comes from is the backstory on the Generation of Miracles. Aomine is the first to drift away. Although, in the beginning, Aomine was outgoing and even friendly. He often fooled around with Kuroko and Kise. Momoi stated that the old Aomine was very similar to Kagami; he loved playing basketball and was very good at it too. He often completely crushed his opponents’ will to play basketball. He was initially sad about this and searched for his equal on the court, but he never found one. Eventually, he came to the conclusion that he is simply the strongest and that “The only one who can beat me, is me”. This is the start of the falling apart for everyone else on the team. Aomine is the first to bloom and head off on his own. This probably would have been handled better if the coach of Teiko didn’t get sick… and the person who took over wasn’t strong-armed into just winning. The coaching staff didn’t aid in their mental development at all and just let them govern themselves until they imploded completely. Akashi was left to control and govern… he went off the deep end. The other personality manifests because Akshi felt that he wasn’t progressing as fast as the other players. Aomine stopped coming to practice… Murasakibara complains that if Aomine doesn’t have to practice why should he? There were no adults that cared about their wellbeing? (That changes a bit when they get to high school.) Although, this behavior is exactly what happens to college players… Winning is everything and not the players at all. It is also sad to know that the players kept hurting themselves. I came to understand… while they all have talents surpassing the capabilities of regular high school sportsmen, they still have a high school boy’s physique. This means that should they use their talents to the maximum limit for an extended period of time, their growing bodies can’t cope with the overexertion and their talents become more of a burden than a gift. In other words: their strengths can also be their weaknesses.

There are a few games that are honorable mentions… A lot of these have to do with Kise:

  • Kaijō High vs Tōō Academy – Kise has a lot to prove in this game. Apparently, Aomine dominates in the games they used to play as kids. Aomine does start to dominate in this game but then Kise makes the adjustment… Kise says that he has to take off the rose colored glasses. Kise struggles in the opening moments of the game. Kise copies Sakurai’s Quick-Release Shot only to be blocked by Aomine. fakes a drive going right and goes left pass Kise. Kise then blocks Aomine, which leads into Aomine using a Formless Shot, only to be blocked by Kise, which surprises everyone, including Aomine. The game is back and forth until the final moments. I think my favorite line in this game is when Kise gets in the Zone and Imayoshi comments that he would never want to play against Aomine and with Kise’s copy… It feels like he is doing just that. Kise is stopped by Aomine, who is trying to predict his next move. Kise then fakes a formless shot, passing the ball behind to Kasamatsu, but Aomine slaps the ball out of his hand. Aomine then comments that Kise did a good job of copying his style, but messed up due to the fact that he (Aomine) doesn’t pass the ball. Moriyama attempts to go for a lay up, but gets the ball stolen by Aomine, Kise then attempts to stop the dunk, but fails, falling on the ground and ending the game at 98-110. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoHFxUFtXyY) According to a poll in the CHARACTERS BIBLE, this match is voted as the best match in the entire series, earning 995 votes, beating the Seirin vs Tōō match (681 votes) and the rematch of Seirin vs Shūtoku at the Winter Cup (323 votes).


  •  Kaijō High vs Fukuda Sōgō Academy – Kise and the rest of the Kaijō team go up against Fukuda Sōgō Academy, where the former member of Teikō that Kise replaced, Shōgo Haizaki, plays. There is nothing to like about Haizaki. I mean he is assaulting a woman and her student when we meet him. Nothing about his backstory absolves him from this. However in the oast, he was part of the Generation of Miracles before being replaced by Kise. He was replaced because of his shitty attitude not because he can’t play ball. Sadly, even in entering high school his attitude is not any better. Akashi told Haizaki to quit because he knew that Kise would steal the starting position from Haizaki in the future, so Akashi didn’t want Haizaki’s pride to get hurt. During practice, Haizaki was once challenged by Kise in a one-on-one for a spot on the starting team. Akashi allowed it and Haizaki mercilessly defeated Kise to the point where Kise is seen laying on the floor. At one point in the past, Haizaki stole Kise girlfriend or so he thinks.  At practice, before the match, Haizaki sees Himuro outside of the building and recognizes him as a teammate of Murasakibara. He approaches him, but his eye falls on Alexandra, and he starts to flirt with her. Himuro stops him, but Haizaki lashes out and tries to punch Himuro. Himuro dodges, but can’t evade Haizaki’s kick. He then turns to Alexandra and grabs her by her throat because she was being rude to him. When Kise arrives and confronts Haizaki, Haizaki reveals that he doesn’t care about basketball, but he wants the title of the Generation of Miracles from any of the five. That’s why with the next match, against Kaijō High, he wants to steal the title from Kise because Kise was called the 5th man without beating Haizaki. After the tip-off, the ball is in possession of Kaijō, and Haizaki is seen marking Kise. When Moriyama shoots his unorthodox shot, Haizaki admires and records it. Later, Kise completes a successful scoop shot and taunts Haizaki for not defending him tight enough. Haizaki responds by saying that he really doesn’t like Kise, especially when their abilities resemble each other so much. I was on the edge of my seat like what the hell does that mean? This is clarified when in the next attack, Haizaki copies Moriyama’s shot and shocks everyone by executing it perfectly, but with a change in rhythm. The next shot Moriyama took misses because of Haizaki. Haizaki makes a sinister appearance by licking his thumb and saying that Moriyama’s move is his now. Goodness. This is gonna be a long game. The match goes on to the end of the 3rd quarter with Haizaki’s total domination over Kise and Kaijō High. Later, Haizaki dunks over Kise again, and Kise falls to the ground. Haizaki recalls Kise’s humiliation when he was defeated by Haizaki in Teikō and when Haizaki took Kise’s girlfriend. Kise’s fighting spirit is refired by Kuroko, who cheers for him. He tells Haizaki that he didn’t want that girl anyway. Kise activates Perfect Copy and shoots Midorima’s full-court shot. Haizaki is frightened. Haizaki continues to be overwhelmed by Kise’s techniques. In frustration, he egoistically steals his teammate’s technique, the Scoop Shot, but even then, he is blocked by Kise with a Murasakibara-style block. When Kise brings Kaijō back on top, Haizaki recalls how Akashi put him out of the team by telling him Kise is better than him. Haizaki finally admits Kise’s superiority but decides that if he can’t beat him, he’ll injure him instead. He drives and purposely stands on Kise’s foot, roughing up his already injured leg. Haizaki goes up for the dunk to take the win, but Kise comes from behind and blocks it. He sprints to the other side and dunks himself, officially ending the match with the defeat of Fukuda Sōgō Academy. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROHnxoSr4z8) After the match, Haizaki wanders outside the gym in search of Kise. Instead, he encounters Aomine. Aomine tries to convince Haizaki to give up, but Haizaki tells him he doesn’t care and that he can only be stopped with violence. Aomine agrees and responds by socking him square in the jaw. Aomine then leaves Haizaki on the ground and walks away. I loved every minute of it. Haizaki was only intorduced for a bit but I could not wait for someone to sock him a good time. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ge_GQqlGSc)



Funny Running Gags

I know that Kuroko was the main character… but I think he was funnier when he kept “sneaking” upon people. Listening to him say, “I was sitting here first.” or “I was here the whole time.” never wore off on me. Even in his backstories, Aomine thought the gym was haunted. It was just Kuroko. Good times. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aojhiV36mKY) The other person that I found hilarious… was Mitobe Rinnosuke. Mitobe is Seirin’s second-year center and a regular until Kiyoshi’s return. Mitobe has thick eyebrows and never talks. NEVER. The kicker is not that he doesn’t talk but that the team never seems perturbed by it. They all understand him… but not once is he shown saying words to someone. There is even a point where the team is being interviewed and Mitobe says nothing. And they almost forget about Kuroko.

So in the end, it is a great show. With great voice actors/actresses. I watched it in subbed but I believe I recognized several voices. I think I have added another show to the mix that I can suggest to people new to anime. I have my top 3 favorite characters… and there was fun running gags. But it delivered on the action. Very glad my Twitter friends made me watch it. If you have seen this show, let me know your thoughts. If you haven’t go watch…

2 thoughts on “Quarantine Post #67: Kuroko’s Basketball

  1. Zoë

    I’m glad you enjoyed the show. I personally didn’t think I would enjoy it when it was recommended to me. I’m not a fan of sports or sports anime so this was a huge gamble. I love the unique and different personalities from each and every character from the show. They are unforgettable. I was laughing most of the time because of how ridiculous they be acting and I loved every minute of it. Like the one time Aiko cooked, Hyuga and Teppei finished their plate to not hurt her feelings. Maaaan Hyuga’s soul literally left his body as soon as he left the classroom and Izuki found him🤣 I couldn’t breathe. Or the time where Kise sent Midorima a “good luck” text only to get “Die” as a response.😭🤣 I swear Tsundere male characters are the best. My favourite characters are Aomine and Kagami (also in my top 5 favourite duos in anime) I love how you highlighted their similarities and relationship with Kuroko. Love that. I swear they could be brothers. Oop…just now I catch hands for saying that👀😏 I think Murasakibara is misunderstood, he was still a kid who needed to grow up still plus he is more of a follower rather than a leader hence he listens to crazy boy Akashi. In the last movie, you definitely see his character development from how he was before when he was looking down on people and claiming not to enjoy the game or care whether he wins or not. Sweet baby, all he wanted was to eat all his candy and mind his own business. I still say Kagami had it coming for grabbing him like that. That will get your eyebrow snatched free of charge hunnay🤌🏽 I think my favourite match was definitely Seirin vs Touou at the winter Cup. At that point Aomine was underestimating Kagami because of the previous matches they had where he came out victorious…but Kagami said not this time and entered the Zone. I swear it felt like it was just the two of them playing on the court the Aces in the Zone. Loved that. The growth of Aomine too, that was something that touched my heart. He realised the joy of something after losing faith in it so long ago. Can definitely relate to that. All in all…my rewatch will be coming up but not in a while. Reading this felt like I was rewatching it again because how you went into detail about the downplay…once again I’m glad you enjoyed it. Oooo there is the OVA of Kuroko’s birthday…man I died, if you haven’t checked it out, please do. Seriously loved this read. Keep it up🌸🌸🌸

  2. I am making another post about the movie separately. The post would have been too long if I did that. But I enjoyed all of the characters… And I see where the adults in the picture failed them. Mitobe is still the funniest.

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