by Lauren Orsini,
This week on Kuroko's Basketball, get ready to have some feelings. This emotional rollercoaster ran the gamut from the thrill of victory, to the agony of defeat, to the curiosity and dread of discovering something vital about your strongest opponent. While the show is known for its unbelievable basketball, these feelings were nothing but genuine, as each section conveyed a mood far more relatable than the gameplay.
This episode's pacing was particularly unusual. It was structured like a season finale, but it's probably not even at the halfway point. Instead of the usual introduction sequence, it played the intro song during an extra-long recap of last episode's events. The song's upbeat peppiness lent itself well to Seirin's newly hopeful mood from the end of last episode. Later, the show ran the ending sequence after about sixteen minutes, but the episode was just as long as usual, just with a very long after-credits section. It's apparent that the show is preparing to switch gears to an extended flashback, but with the ending credits so early in, it felt like an unpleasant surprise when the episode finally ended, and just as I was getting caught up in a brand new storyline.
With March Madness going on, it's easier than ever to see the appeal of Kuroko's ridiculous basketball. In an extremely close game, Kuroko made an extremely detailed analysis of how the team could stop the ever-evolving Kise. His plan had about seven unlikely steps which predicted each of Kise's moves for nearly a minute. It was unbelievably complicated, but totally accurate. Of course it would never happen in real basketball, but it was satisfying to see the plan come together. What made this sequence particularly notable was Kuroko's intrinsic role in it, both as Kise's one-on-one opponent and as the deciding factor in the game. Kuroko even notes that this is a first for him, and I really wish the camera had displayed his “relaxed” face when he said it!
There are tears on both sides, as Seirin celebrates and Kaijo mourns. Riko's tears of joy are shown immediately before Kise's tears of frustration, driving home the contrast. Kise, Kagami, and Kuroko's post-game conversation indicates that all three are already moving on and looking forward to a grudge match in the future. From the team that's on top of the world to the team just picking up the pieces, the show has the ability to make you feel alongside the players.
However, the mood completely changes halfway through when Midorima catches Kagami alone and offers him some sage advice about Akashi. “There are two of him,” he says cryptically as ominous violin music plays in the background. We know from the credits that Akashi plays the violin. This unsettling mood continues until the credits, and the lingering background music indicates that something big is about to be revealed about Akashi. The length of the lead-in, however, has me nervous that we won't know the answer for several episodes. Settle in, everybody, I suspect Kuroko's tale will be a lengthy one. However, considering the subjects of his story are people we already thought we knew intimately, there's a promise that this build-up will give way to a whole new emotion: surprise.
Kuroko's Basketball is currently streaming on Daisuki.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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