by Lauren Orsini,
After watching Kuroko's Basketball for say, fifty-seven episodes, you might think that you've got a pretty good bead on Kuroko, Kise, or the others. Think again.
Kuroko's Basketball characters have such a storied and significant history with one another. It's not just one or two characters that are old friends, but almost every protagonist we are introduced to. As a result, there are a lot of things we as viewers aren't privy to until a character deigns to let us in on the scoop. This week revealed two vital pieces of information about Kise and Kuroko that we'd never known before.
“So this match has some history behind it,” Himuro says to Murasakibara, and that's Kuroko's Basketball in a nutshell. He is of course referring to the practice match in which Kagami and Kuroko doubleteamed Kise to take the win. However, this simple statement takes upon new layers of meaning after the drama between Kuroko and Kise during this episode.
Kuroko is the master of the dramatic overstatement. “I've been trying to hold it in all this time but it's no good,” he says before revealing that he's excited to play a game of basketball. Kuroko's blunt, matter-of-fact speaking manner makes it hard to tell if he's joking or serious. Still, there's no question how he feels when he gives an actual big reveal mid-episode—that he's always hated the seemingly unhatable Kise. It turns out that he's always considered the charming, handsome, pet-name-bestowing Kise to be his rival.
Kuroko is the weirdest sports anime protagonist ever if just for the simple fact that he's not very good (at least until he masters that Phantom Shot) compared to the rest of the Generation of Miracles, but it's rare for this to get him down. When Kuroko shares his resentment toward Kise, the player he was supposed to mentor that quickly surpassed his own abilities, he's showing us a more human side of himself than we usually get from his blunt overstatements and silly over-seriousness.
During the match, Kise goes in the other direction and shows us a less relatable, less affable side of himself than we've seen so far. It's easy to forget that Kise is a monster when we're rooting for him. “Who softened up, and when?” he taunts, eyes literally glowing with the power of the entire Generation of Miracles. It's going to take every trick in Seirin's bag to defeat him, and they'll probably have to invent some during the game. It seems like it'd be impossible to defeat a guy who can predict the future, shoot three-pointers from the other side of the court, adopt a tricky dribbling style, and shut down dunks. This is the chink in the armor for Kuroko's Basketball—we are always swapping between realistic emotional drama and physics-defying basketball. Both are great, but when it's time to swap, we have to remember that it's time to put logic by the wayside.
This episode was a more realistic-leaning one, exploring our protagonist's inner emotions to set up a motive for victory. Next episode, it's time for the magical realism of Kuroko's ridiculous basketball to take center stage.
Kuroko's Basketball is currently streaming on Daisuki.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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