by Lauren Orsini,
Not everyone can be in the Generation of Miracles. This episode of Kuroko's Basketball focused on two less-than-legendary players and how they can still shine.
If you think about it, there are really two major themes for Kuroko episodes. Some focus on the burdens of being an insanely talented member of the Generation of Miracles, and some focus on the burdens of having to play basketball in their shadow (literally, in the case of Kuroko). The existence of a group of players that have frequently proven to be better than everybody else creates a ton of pressure, both on those talented players, and on the people who have to deal with their talents.
First there's Furihata, the nervous first-year who makes his court debut during the semifinals, of all times. What was Riko thinking? “Being cowardly isn't a fault,” Izuki* observes. “There are things you can do because you're a coward.” Furihata's terrified and cautious as a result, and it makes his teammates more deliberate too. His fear changes the pace of the game and the pace of the episode. Pastel background colors, simplified cartoon drawings, and a slough of ridiculous Furihata expressions give the episode a more comedic look than usual, and it's nice to see the lighter side of Kuroko's Basketball through these awkward interactions.
Of course, this is Kuroko's Basketball we're talking about, and the mood of the show can change on a dime. Things soon turn serious when Hyuuga notices that the Kaijo team is intentionally targeting Izuki. “They think the least of you,” Hyuuga says to the normally pun-happy point guard. Izuki is tough enough to withstand such a harsh statement, but stark blue backdrops and a sudden music change indicate the weight of the statement. Even people like Izuki who have been playing since elementary school are considered weak in a world where the Generation of Miracles exist. What Izuki does when all eyes are on him will clinch the game between Kaijo and Seirin.
Finally, we get to Aomine and Momoi, who are for some reason sitting at a cafe instead of watching this ridiculously tense semifinal. Aomine casually muses on whether all the Generation of Miracles players appearing in just one middle school was fate or coincidence. Finally, somebody mentioned it! This was an extremely meta way to address a particular piece of magical realism the entire plot of the show depends on, but I'm not sure it worked. In order for such an incredible storyline to exist, it has to take liberties with reality, and viewers already know that. Having one of the characters bring up the bizarreness of something I've already made peace with was jarring.
This episode focused on two of Kuroko Basketball's more realistic characters, kids you might expect to see playing actual high school basketball, but it still showed how they stand apart when it comes to their unique abilities. In a world where everybody's got a wild talent, the success of the show depends on whether or not viewers can relate. When the subjects of our empathy are a nervous first-year and a pun-tastic point guard, it isn't hard.
*For consistency, I am sticking with Izuki, not Iduki. I can hear that “z” clearly every time so I'm ignoring what Daisuki says on this one.
Kuroko's Basketball is currently streaming on Daisuki.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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