Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kuroko no Basuke Season 1 Review

Kuroko no Basuke Season 1 Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the first season of Kuroko no Basuke. If you wish not to know some events in the story, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please leave the page, since I don't want to damage a watching experience for you.

With that said, thank you, and onto the review:

I'm going to be honest and start off my review with this: I'm not a big fan of sports.

Yes, let all of you Super Bowl and March Madness junkies be stunned into shock. I just haven't been the person who's into being rough when it comes to sports. Sure, when my local college football team's season starts, I'll cheer them on, but I'm not fully dedicated to it. That's one of the reasons why I've mainly done cross country, because I focus on my improvements rather than what I did wrong, and I don't have to worry about balls.

Yeah, any sport with balls is bound to freak me out a bit. Deciding what to blame it on is most likely getting hit in the face by too many plush balls during dodgeball in elementary school. I worry about getting smacked in the head so hard I end up unconscious.

That's probably the reason why I decided to participate in the Fitness section of my P.E. class the last trimester of this school year rather than participate in Arena. Not that I don't mind sports with balls, since I took tennis lessons when I was in the last years of the intermediate section of my elementary. It has been a while since I've played it, and playing it in 8th grade kind of sealed the deal that maybe I should take lessons again.

Aside from avoiding sports, I also played video games with sports growing up, such as the Backyard sports game series. Other than that, I don't like sports.

Anyways, enough of my history with them.

Anime series that have focused on sports seem to be growing in the past few years from what I've seen. We have Haikyuu!, Free, Yowamushi Pedal, and then there's this series. When I got back into anime in 2012, this was another title I had no idea even existed. Thank the Top Model community that I first heard this show through the use of Kise.

Normally when I watch anime series, and I'm sure you all have noticed, I mainly watch 12 or 13 episode series, sometimes 10. This is the first series that I've watched with more than these set number of episodes, so it's a pretty big leap for me. 

So, how it'd go? Was this a success for my first sport series?

Well, I should say so myself: I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this anime. Even though it's shonen, it managed to break a lot of the modern day cliches you see in modern day anime and manga in some parts. Not only that, but the Generation of Miracles we've met so far have distinct personalities (I really like 2 of them, and I think it's obvious which 2), and most of the supporting characters even have different quirks to their personality rather than making them the same character. Oh, and the score doe.

However, this isn't an amazing series, due to one major stereotype heavily present throughout the series, and the obvious outcome of that until Episode 15 comes around and smacks the cliche in its face. There are also some animation errors that are present throughout the show, but those are fairly minor. Beyond that though, this is still a great anime series, and this gives me the feeling that I should watch more anime over 12 episodes.

Let's talk about the story first:


Teiko Middle School has had one distinctive quality that has stood out from the crowd, and that would be their basketball team. The 5 regulars from the team have been dubbed as the Generation of Miracles for their superb basketball skills, and rose to attention by crushing their competition. After they graduated, the 5 went to 5 different high schools that also are known for their basketball teams. Let's list them: Kaijo, Shutoku, Tohou, Yosen, and Rakuzan.

However, what most people don't know is that there was a 6th player that was most often overlooked. His name is Tetsuya Kuroko, and he has gone off to Seirin High. Seirin is a relativity new school on the block, but has a pretty powerful basketball team at that.

With the help of Taiga Kagami, another new recruit who manages to be one of the main highlights of the basketball team and spent his middle school years in the US (and let's not forget the other teammates, though we know where our focus is), Kuroko plans to make Seirin the best basketball team in Japan, and it'll include facing off against old foes.

In the first season, Seirin faces off against Kaijo (Kise) in a practice game, Shutoku (Midorima) in the Inter High preliminaries, and Tohou (Daiki) in the Inter High Championships. Out of these games, I like the Tohou game the best. Why? Because Seirin loses! :D

And I know you're thinking, "Wait, why did you spoil the outcome of that game?" Because, Seirin manages to win all of their other ones.

One of the biggest shonen cliches that kind of rubs me the wrong way the most is how the "good guys" always manage to win in the end by some dumb deus ex machina plot twist or through some saving grace. Kuroko no Basuke is one of the first shonen anime I've seen that has this sense of predictability in the beginning, but then becomes more surprising on handling how Seirin wins their games in the end. Most of the time, the scores are actually quite close, whether it either be them or the opposing team in the lead. In 1 occurrence, the score is tied. This can get quite suspenseful, even through the sense that Seirin will claim victory.

Except the Tohou game, since Daiki's a force of his own. But I'll save that for later.

The games are always so interesting to see roll out, because something exciting or shocking or nail biting, hell, even something interesting happens each game. And it's still there even through some of the repeated tricks of the trade that the players do. I find this more enjoyable than any basketball game I've ever watched.

My favorite game is the one at the end of the series: Kaijo vs. Tohou in the IHC (Inter-High Championships). It's not only fun seeing my 2 favorite characters play off against each other, but this game was the most intense out of the entire first season. It probably would have been a tad better had I not accidentally stumbled onto the team that won on Wikipedia, but it was still very enjoyable.

Least favorite game, in my opinion, would have to be Seirin vs. Shutoku. The reason for that is because there's so many times where placing Takao on the line near Kuroko and seeing Kuroko's normally easy passes failing turns to the point of:

I do have to admit though, Kuroko punching Kagami in the face after he got too worked up was so awesome and epic. I was just like:

The show also manages to blend in comedy very well along with keeping its serious edges. I wouldn't say it's at the The Devil is a Part Timer level of using both, but it's pretty dang close.

So, for a sports story, this one was pretty well done. I didn't mention 2 games that Seirin manages to play against 2 other teams, but I think you'll most likely be looking forward to the times where Kuroko faces off against one of his old teammates. I for sure was.

Character time!


Before I go into this section, I can't forget talking about the teammates. What I really like about this anime is that they don't treat the other teammates (or most of them, besides Shutoku and those 2 other teams besides a couple) like throwaways, as they have their own personalities, qualities, and abilities to them that make them unique.

However, this also comes with a problem. Besides Tohou, which actually has a few teammates that don't suffer from this, and Shutoku with 1, the majority of the others on opposing teams and on Seirin have similar hair and eye colors. I don't know if the creator of the series did this on purpose, or the animators just got really lazy, but the majority of Seirin's second years have either dark brown or black hair, and very generic eye color, mainly black. This goes with other teams too, such as Kaijo.

My favorite teammates from Seirin beyond our main 2 would have to be Junpei Hyuga, the team captain who is often calm and collective, but doesn't like certain things, such as disrespect to the older members of the team, I also like Shinji Koganei, due to his facial design and his attitude in general. Lastly is Teppei Kiyoshi. Even though he doesn't appear until more than halfway through the series, he's the team founder, and just has a lot of hope for the team to improve on other strengths to become even better.

I don't have any favorite teammates from Kaijo, since they all look the same and have as much depth as a blank piece of paper. Well, there's Kasamatsu, but he's mainly used for gags, and more of his determination doesn't even show up until the final game of the season. Shutoku has Takao, who has a lot of snark, and is perhaps one of the funniest characters in the entire series. And for Tohou, we have Sakurai, who apologizes a lot, such as when shooting baskets, or not being able to get Daiki to another practice, even though it isn't really his fault. My last one is Wakamatsu, who is also hot headed, and pretty much the only character who despises Daiki as much as I despise anime cliches and horror movies. He also has a loud mouth and short temper.

Now onto the main course. Kuroko's first:

Kuroko has been given the nickname of the phantom sixth man of the Generation of Miracles. This is due to his overall lack of presence on the court. He is largely unknown as a result of this. He is highly respected by his current teammates, and his past ones, though that's left to balance for some of them. I don't think Akashi respects Kuroko, because of something that happened way back at a championship game or whatever, but that hasn't been explained yet, and it won't be until Season 3. And Midorima too, how could I forget that?

Kuroko uses his lack of court presence to his advantage during games, using misdirection. Misdirection allows him to steal the ball, and make some killer passes, as well as make opponents faces go up in shock and disbelief. This is Kuroko's strong side, as he's not really good at any areas beyond that. However, this skill doesn't last indefinitely. When used too much, his presence does become more visible until he is fully noticeable, and this ability does give him a higher chance for unintended injuries. He hasn't gotten one from using his abilities per say so far though.

The main gag of this entire season that is related to Kuroko is when he suddenly appears in front of various people out of the blue. This mainly applies to his own teammates rather than other people or rivals on the court.

So overall, I grew to like Kuroko as the series went on. At first, I did like him, but by the end of the series, I started to enjoy him more, and he has one of my favorite "powers" of the characters. Also, he's just too cute.

Kagami's up next:

Describing Kagami isn't that hard actually.

He's pretty much the typical shonen main male lead. The one with the hot temper, the incredible appetite, the attractiveness, and having something special about him. But Kagami is a little more complex than that, thanks to his background.

Kagami has just recently returned to Japan after spending his junior high days in the U.S.. Due to this, he is perhaps one of the best players on Seirin's team, and one of the strongest as well. His special ability is that he can jump higher than other players on the court. This may sound a little boring, but there's a catch to it. The more times Kagami jumps, the higher they become. And the more the people on the court are like WTF.

Due to his short fuse, Kagami can sometimes get a little too full of himself, or he might do something wrong on accident due to that rage. Thankfully, Kuroko is the soothing puzzle piece, and can normally be able to calm him down.

Kagami's like the other shonen male leads I've seen, but I think I like him more than Natsu and Ichigo per say. He's got all the check boxes filled, sure, but he's got determination. And sooner or later, Midorima and Daiki might need to eat back up their words based on first appearance, and during gameplay.

*fangirl sequel* Kise shall be next on my list:

I'm pretty sure this is from a Season 2 opening, but I just really like this screenshot! Then again, I just really like Kise!

Anyways, Kise was the last to make up the Generation of Miracles. He joined the Teiko Middle School basketball team due to the fact that he wanted to find a sport that was more challenging for him. Daiki was the main inspiration behind this, and to this day, Kise have never beaten him in a one-on-one. No wonder the tension between them during the Inter-High game was palpable!

Anyways, since Kise is the team's least experienced member as he's the last to join, he cites himself as the weakest. But don't take that as a weakness! He's still quite strong in his own right!

Kise's ability is that he is able to copy the skills or moves of other player currently playing, and uses this to his advantage. However, he is not able to copy everyone, since he can't mimic moves done by stronger players, notably Daiki. And just copying one of Daiki's moves becomes the focus of the game between them.

Kise's personality is mainly childish and happy. He has a lot of energy, and is dedicated to the sport. however, when he gets serious, he gets serious. So yeah, we might need to worry about that down the line.

In his free time, Kise works as a model. Though we haven't seen him at any photoshoots yet, we have seen some fangirls.

So, to sum it up, the reason I guess why I like Kise so much is just because of his charm. His personality and good looks have an effect on me that I get with anime characters like these, but I do like his serious side. Hopefully we don't go off the deep end like in Jormungand where other characters are worrying about him becoming a "monster" or stuff like that. Let's stick to the present for now!

Now onto Midorima, who is my least favorite former member of the Generation of Miracles. I do like his ability to shoot from anywhere on the court, and his obsession with fortunes, but he's more irritating than anything. He's constantly brash and rude to Kuroko and Kagami that by the end of the series, I'm just like:

C'mon ladies, it's time to go on to Daiki's character section! Let's move!

Daiki's strength relies in his agility on the court, being unpredictable in what he does, and shooting baskets from normally any position, even from behind the backboard. His style of playing is more aggressive than other players from his team and from the former Generation of Miracles, which causes some people to dislike him. As of now, he is the strongest player out of the group, and is nearly impossible to stop once he's out on the court.

During middle school and as a child, Daiki enjoyed basketball immensely. He's always had talent, even as a kid, but those talents blossomed in his second year. Due to this, Teiko was able to get some very high scores, with some as up to almost 200 points. When his skills became more renowned and feared by his opponents, he noticed something regarding them. He felt that they stopped trying to stop him, and hasn't been able to find someone who matches up to his ability of playing. Because of this, he has begun to lose interest in basketball, often skipping practice and being late to games.

But wait, why is he so good then?

Natural talent, I guess.

I think one of the main reasons why I liked Daiki is because he's different than some other players in the series, and he feels like a unique character. His attitude is what helps him to stand out from the others, and he's a pretty good player. Hell, if he was playing against me, I don't think I could take him. He's that powerful!

Other characters include other players from the various teams, our team coach and manager from Seirin, who's actually a second year herself, a dog that Kuroko finds abandoned after the game with Shutoku who is coined Tetsuya #2, our team manager at Touhou named Momoi, who also attended Teiko and really likes Kuroko, but due to Daiki's playing style and his attitude, decide to go to Tohou with him, various cameos of the remaining 2 GM members, either it be in the past or present, and finally, random members of the audience who relay everything that's already been seen by our loving eyes.


The animation for this series was produced by Production I.G, who are also famous for the Ghost in the Shell franchise, xxxHolic, and Sengoku Basara.

A lot of this show's praise goes to the animation, and I would agree with this. The animation is definitely a joy to look at, and to notice all of the little details added. One of the more noticeable animation quirks that this series has are the shadows under the characters' heads, near the top of their necks. This may bug some people, but it's a nice design difference from other animes.

Of course, the animation of the basketball playing is pretty good as well, as the movement of the players isn't clunky or choppy. Production I.G also added sweat to the players once they get exhausted, which makes this exhaust more believable. 

Of course, this animation isn't pitch perfect. Sometimes, we have some odd hair issues with Kise in Episodes 3 and 4, as sometimes it looks like he just got some static in his hair. The basketball rim animation, I believe, is animated with CGI, which sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't. When it doesn't, it feels out of place.

And then we have the little snippets of manservice, which is highly appreciated by me. Of course, there was one odd inconsistency that I noticed, even after nearly starting it 2 months prior. In Episode 1, we have Riko scan Kagami's body to see his skill level. And while she's processing how high it is, we have a far away shot of some other players, with light lines where his abdominal muscles are. Though, we already got a good scan of his abs up close. Kagami fangirls rejoice!

But this gets a little odd. When there's a shot that's even further than the one from Episode 1, when Kagami wipes something off of his face in Episode 22, his abdominal muscles are easily visible. This is a little odd to see, considering that of the one previous from Episode 1.

Overall though, the animation is still quite nice. Hopefully I get a little more fanservice from Kise and Daiki from these next 2 seasons. That would be nice.


The score for this series was handled by 2 people. The main composer is Ryosuke Nakanishi, who has also done the scores for Highschool DXD, The Devil is a Part Timer, and Love Stage. Alpha Eastman's efforts may be heard in Episodes 21-25, but has no other composing credits beyond the last few episodes, which aired in August and September 2012.

This, I should say, is probably one of my favorite anime scores. There is a lot of range that is spread throughout the series, and the OST just 
manages to do really well for whatever scene it fits for. Heck, some of the pieces used in basketball games had me pumping my fist up in the air!

For voice work, the show manages to impress there too, like many others. It was a joy hearing some of my favorite seiyuus again, along with the dustings of some new ones. As of right now, I would really like the show to get licensed here in the US, and possibly get a English dub. I'd definitely watch it again if it had one.

Highlights for me were Kensho Ono, Yuki Ono, Yoshimasa Hosoya (keeps on surprising me with his voice range), Kenji Hamada, Chiwa Saito, Ryohei Kimura, Soichiro Hoshi, Daisuke Ono, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Junichi Suwabe, Fumiko Orikasa, Nobunaga Shimazaki (I don't know, the light range like he used for Shido works more for me this time), Kosuke Toriumi, Shinichiro Miki (mainly as the narrator who started off the majority of the episodes), Takanori Hoshino, Subaru Kimura, and Kiyotaka Furushima.


For a while, I had a hard time convincing myself whether or not I should watch this anime. And now that I have, I definitely don't regret it. It was fun, funny, different from anime I've seen lately, and sometimes it left me on my toes. For someone who isn't the biggest fan of sports, this anime sure was entertaining. 

I may watch the next 2 seasons this year, or in the next couple of months. There's some things that look to be really interesting coming up, and I wouldn't want to miss them.

Score: 9/10


Story doesn't rely on every single shonen cliche imaginable.

Great characters.

Amazing score.

Mostly well done animation.

Very enjoyable to watch.

Good, even for a non-sports fan.

Kise vs. Daiki.

Basketball games manage to not blend together.


Stereotypical shonen cliche is stereotypical until Episode 15.

Minor animation issues.

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