by Lauren Orsini,
It's the calm before the storm on Kuroko's Basketball. This week we focused on a variety of characters (and their rainbow of hair colors) as they each prepared for semifinals.
Things started off raunchy with Alex and her lack of modesty, a pair of eggs sunny-side-up filling in for a glimpse of her breasts. It's an odd reminder that despite the endless parade of firm male muscles dripping with sweat, Kuroko's Basketball is also targeted at men. Or “you boys,” as Riko calls them when she finds out both Kagami and Kuroko broke their shoes.
Kuroko and Kagami's unlikely shopping excursion leads to an even more unlikely meeting with Aomine. This is the first time they've spoken since Kagami and Aomine's Zone battle on the court, and naturally, most of their interaction is conveyed through basketball, not speech. One on one, Aomine is easily a better player than Kagami, but basketball is a team sport. Aomine is one of the show's more interesting characters because he has a good heart but also has trouble acting on it. For example, last episode, in an effort to protect Kise, he punched Haizaki in the face. It's generally agreed that Haizaki is a bad guy so it's only Kuroko, the show's moral center, who worries about Aomine getting reprimanded.
Meanwhile, Midorima and Akashi prepare for their game through another kind of game: shogi. It's revealed that the two have played shogi together for a long time, and Akashi has never lost. It's interesting to see their interactions because Midorima's resolute faith in fortune-telling makes him a foil to Akashi's quiet authority. They're both very collected, confident characters with matched intensity, and it's no surprise how well they continue to get along. “I win in everything, and everything I say is correct,” Akashi says matter-of-factly to Midorima during this episode. It's posturing that only the equally intense Midorima could stomach.
Viewers might notice that Akashi's distinct heterochromia—one red eye and one gold eye—was not present in last episode's middle school flashbacks. It's clear that something significant has happened to Akashi between then and now, something even Midorima might not be aware of. After observing Akashi's tentative behavior in the first quarter, Midorima's returning boasts to Akashi sound somewhat hollow. While Akashi speaks plainly to Midorima and calls him by his first name, Midorima hasn't given up his old habit of deferring to his former captain, addressing him formally by his last name.
Since the coach has mentioned the similarity Akashi's play-style holds to shogi, and shogi is a game that Akashi has never lost, it's clear foreshadowing that this game won't be a close one, or end up in Midorima's favor. All the better since Seirin hasn't played him yet, and that will definitely be a game to watch. The characters' emotions have already decided this game.
As is typical for the in-between games episodes of Kuroko, this was a time for side characters to shine. Takao cracking up was a great moment, as was Momoi's take on the events of the tournament from the sidelines. I'm looking forward to Murasakibara's courtside commentary to replace that of Aomine's during the last game. The characters carried this episode, but there's no doubt it'll be the basketball game that carries the next.
Kuroko's Basketball is currently streaming on Daisuki.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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