This is review number two hundred and seventy one. This anime is part of the Fall 2013 lineup. I’m about to plow through the long ones of this damn lineup. Here’s hoping I can finish them before Spring 2014 ends. That’s wishful thinking on my part though. Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is the second season of Kuroko no Basket. I remember how awesome my Spring 2012 journey was and I can’t believe it’s Fall 2013 already. This anime is about hot dudes playing basketball or something like that. The first season was my 88th review. The second season is now my 271st review so that’s pretty insane. Anyways, hot dudes. Let’s read on.
Taking the Pants Off
I remember the first time I watched Kuroko no Basket. It was a cloudy day and I was reviewing six anime in a week. I was doubtful of the basketball concept because I noticed the pretty faces and I soon gave a deep sigh expecting the worst from a bishie filled anime. The moment I saw Taiga do a dunk though, I immediately fell in love with the show. It’s a no brainer. Production IG plus sports equals gold. This studio can turn a basketball match into one hell of shounen fight that you’ll easily be drawn to it. The manga itself though has a really smart storytelling where the absurdity of the match is second only to the characters running around the court. It is f*cking amazing. The whole concept of the Generation of Miracles is a really wonderful thing that I saw the anime one cloudy day and finished it the next without even realizing it. When I heard of a second season, I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. With the huge Fall lineup and my own reviewing pace slowing down though, it took me forever to see the second season. I finally managed to do so last weekend. I ditched the poll I’m following and I just watched this anime instead. It’s really amazing because I was having the same experience when I saw the first season. I saw it one scorching summer day and finished it the next without realizing it. It’s a testament to how amazing this anime is. The colorful matches in the court where people dunk at every point and no one gets a foul, the monologues lasting so long they would’ve been given a ten second violation for holding the ball and the subtle BL scenes sprinkled all throughout the anime is an experience you can rarely get. It sounds a bit absurd but Kuroko no Basket has an incredible way of balancing the ridiculous with the serious to keep the audience engaged. All of its components are effectively utilized to give you a one of kind anime experience. It’s simply one of the best basketball anime since the king of rebounds long back when.
The first season was about two first year students of Seirin High joining the basketball club of the school. Taiga Kagami, a strong power forward that has a craving for incredibly difficult challenges, and Tetsuya Kuroko, a silent guy that is a member of the Generation of Miracle basketball team from Teiko Middle School, are now a part of Seirin High school basketball team. When hearing upon the Generation of Miracles, Taiga lit up and soon vowed to challenge and beat all of them. His reason is simply because he wants to be the best. His enthusiasm might’ve underestimated them though because the Generation of Miracles are basketball prodigies with inhuman talents. When you realize that one of them can shoot a three point under the opponent’s basket then you know you’re facing monsters with god-like powers. This just excites Taiga more. He isn’t afraid of backing down because he has a reliable partner by his side. Tetsuya is the phantom six man of the Generation of Miracles and he specializes in assists. His low presence makes it easy for him to steal passes and his passes are near impossible to predict as well. With that, Taiga and Tetsuya took on some members of the Generation of Miracles. They beat the “rookie” and the shooting guard of the Generation of Miracles on their way to win the Inter-high Tournament. They were soon crushed to dust though by the ace player of the Generation of Miracles. With a busted body after challenging the two members, Taiga was just killed in the court when he faced Aomine Daiki. The ace has a formless technique that makes him impossible to follow. The anime basically stopped at the Inter-high Tournament. After the loss, Taiga and his team practiced. He practiced specifically on how to match Aomine’s street ball style while also improving on other areas. Kuroko practiced as well. Aomine can easy predict his phantom movements so he needed to grow past beyond an assist. The rest of their teammates are gearing up as well. After a long time out, a member of Seirin High returns just in time for the Winter Cup. The first season pretty much build up an expectedly exciting second season. The inevitable rematch between Taiga and Aomine, the introduction of the rest of the Generation of Miracle and the growth of our main characters are all build up to happen in this season.
The premise is still the same. Taiga and Kuroko is facing up against the Generation of Miracle as they try to win the Winter Cup. This tournament is special though because it involves all the top schools of Japan. In the Inter-High, they faced schools of the same district that happens to have three of the members of the monster team. Now, there is a chance to face them all in this tournament. It’s not just the Generation of Miracles though that our main characters will face. With a bigger stage, more characters enter the picture as well. This is probably the biggest change from the first season. It tried to develop the rest of the characters and slowly try to paint a picture where the Generation of Miracles isn’t the center theme. It also highlights other characters and their drive to become champion. The first season was about establishing the characters and the awesomeness of the monster team. In the second season, it fleshes out the side characters and some of the opponents as well. There is a personal side to the story now that will definitely make each match different. I was personally surprised when the first episode of the anime featured a sappy story of how Taiga met a Japanese boy in America and they became brothers. It might not matter much now because it feels counter intuitive to the whole structure of the show but all of these relationships soon make a ton of difference when the characters face each other in the court. Taiga’s friend is part of the Winter Cup tournament and he wishes to beat Taiga while the latter is hesitating because of their friendship. Add in the fact that the guy is talented and you have a matchup that is exciting in a lot of levels. The second season surprisingly has a lot of depth to it and each match is seriously different simply because of how two characters know each other in the past. That’s why a re-match between Taiga and a Generation member he recently beat has higher stakes or how Kuroko against a member has a more personal feel to it because of how the other members treat Kuroko.
The one thing the second season also highlights is the other members of Seirin High. In the first season, it was all about Taiga and his amazing skill. The other characters might get a chance to show off their skill but the storytelling still focuses on how Taiga will overcome his hurdle. The second season fleshes out the rest of the characters. More importantly, it focuses on the captain, Junpei Hyuga, and their former center, Teppei Kiyoshi. The second season told the story of how the Seirin High basketball team was formed. It’s still only on its second year so it tells the story of how a guy that loves basketball gathered a bunch of his friends and created a basketball team. From how the tradition of screaming on the rooftop is born to how they manage to get that girl as their coach, it’s a really wonderful story of how this team that simply loves basketball tries to make their dream of being the best in Japan come true. The relationship of the captain and the guy that formed the club is a really nice side story to focus on. Kiyoshi was taken out of commission and he was forced to recover his injuries. The second season tells about how he decided to skip surgery though just so he can play with his team. All throughout the anime, his story of sacrifice is featured and it really changes the pace of the game. The way he would push to score makes it a do or die game that will easily pull you in. That’s the beauty of the second season. In a game, Taiga will go up against a monster player but you’re also treated to the endearing side story of the second year Seirin High players as they try to win the game. You’ll notice Kiyoshi pushing it beyond his limits as the rest of the team becomes energized by it making every score of every character that much more exciting. It now has a personal and intimate side to it that captures the essence of a sports anime while also making sure the tenacity and fast paced matches are still exciting to watch.
I personally watched the second season though to see the rest of the Generation members. When Midorama dished out his perfect three points, I knew right then that I wanted to see the rest of the characters. The anime also know how to hype that sh*t up. In this season, we are introduced to the center of the Generation of Miracle. Atsushi Murasakibara is part of the Yosen team that also enters the Winter Cup. How amazing is this dude? Yosen high scored an 81-0 victory against their first team emphasizing that they have the prefect defense with Atsushi at the center of it. Can you imagine how scary it is for a team to score that much while their opponents scored nothing? That’s how beastly Atsushi is. Of course, we are also introduced to the captain of the Generation of Miracles. The red haired Akashi that easily has a strong presence. When a guy decided to not enter a game because he know he will win, it makes you wonder just how freaking fearsome this guy is. It was certainly well worth the wait as you see Taiga all excited at the hurdle he’ll have to face next. The other members aren’t just sitting around though. The Winter Cup is especially exciting because all the Generation members scattered on different teams are participating. It means that they’ll soon have to face each other and that’s an awesome thing to consider. The other members have improved as well after their defeat from Taiga and they found a way to become better. The first season was about Taiga and a member going one on one. They learned from their mistakes though and have grown significantly. They have found a way to neutralize Kuroko while also making sure Taiga isn’t a bother. By relying on the rest of their team, the once one on one fighting against the characters has become a smart chess game of fakes and passes while also making sure each specialty is utilized. Every hawkeye, eagle eye, barrier jumper, lane jump, vice claw, misdirection, tear drop and dunks are dished out as well making every match as complex as you’d hope it to be. The anticipated rematch between Aomine and Taiga is something I’ve been personally waiting for though and I can tell you that with the new complex style of storytelling, it easily surpassed my expectation. How good does Taiga have to be to beat Aomine one on one? Let’s just say, he’ll have to surpass the monster and he achieved just that.
Taiga isn’t the only one that improved in the second season. Kuroko also improved as well. It’s hard to imagine Kuroko doing more than slapping a ball to Taiga but Aomine crushed that in the first season because he used to be the one receiving passes from Kuroko. Our favorite phantom decided to train and he expanded his repertoire. This is one of the most surprising aspects of the second season. It had Kuroko growing into something more than an assist during plays. He can vanish and pass a ball without anyone noticing but he expanded from that. I don’t want to spoil it even though I really want to but let’s just say that Kuroko now practices to shoot the ball. Yes, imagine his invisible passes but with him shooting the ball. In an effort to keep up with the rest of his team, Kuroko has developed a lot of techniques that proved vital during certain moments of the game. Watching him reveal them all is one of the best things to look out for in the show. His misdirection has always changed the pace of the game drastically but with the second season’s style of storytelling, the opponent always has a way to overcome that and so Kuroko really have to dig deep if he wants Seirin to win.
The characters are all pretty much the same. You can’t expect big changes in personality in a sports anime. They grow through their skills on how to be better at the sport and maybe develop camaraderie with other characters but you can’t really expect much more than that. Taiga and Kuroko is basically the same. Taiga is this athletic guy that wants to beat the Generation of Miracles. He makes it his mission. In the first season, he injured himself making sure Midorima cannot setup his perfect three pointer shoot. That’s what makes him a character you can easily cheer for. His arrogance is backed up by his unnerving sense to challenge people. This proves amazing when you see him take on Murasakibara who has a strong defense that no one has penetrated yet. His drive to be better than the Generation is actually what makes each match unique. He can adapt amazingly well that he can take on an ace and match up his skill while also take on a center and overcome his defense. If you don’t like him in the court then I’m sure his rather uncomfortable relationship with Kuroko can do it for you. This anime has a way of making gay scenes manly without doing anything special. I’m not surprised if majority of the fans of this show is writing fanfics about Taiga and Kuroko. Anyways, Kuroko is the same as well. The show still uses the joke of people not noticing him to make the character special. As I said though, the second season also charted his growth in the court. I always believed that Kuroko is a master at passing the ball and he can basically do nothing more. I’m OK with that but I think the anime purposely wants you to underestimate him for when he does try to improve and you often won’t believe how far he’s gone. He doesn’t challenge an opponent one on one but let’s just say that the opponents score more when this guy is benched because his misdirection only lasts for a limited time. Of course, Kuroko found a way to overcome that problem as well.
The rest of the cast stays the same as well from the opponents they faced to the other members of their basketball team. The show focused a lot more on certain characters though. Most of them are new ones to help add depth to each match in the show. One standout is Kiyoshi Teppei. He is the guy that founded the Seirin High basketball team. He is noticeably a fierce guy with his huge build but the one thing that makes him special is his incredibly good guy attitude. He was sworn to protect his teammates and make sure they won’t get injured like him and he takes this promise all the way to his eventual grave. The guy would push to his limits just to help his teammates and it’s pretty incredible. He also spouts a lot of idealistic things about how hard work payoff as long as you don’t give up. The anime has setup this story of how the Generation of Miracles has set the bar too high for others to reach and normal people that love basketball like Teppei are forced to work hard only to be denied by those bastard monsters. He doesn’t let up though. He is just like Taiga. He doesn’t give up and he has amazing skill. He is dubbed the “Iron Heart” because of his never give up attitude that turns a desperate situation into something the team can overcome. An interesting thing about Teppei is that he is one of the “Uncrowned Kings” known for their amazing skill. They are uncrowned because all the glory belongs to the Generation of Miracles. If those monsters don’t exist then Teppei would be more prominent than he is today. As I said though, the Generation of Miracles is naturally gifted monsters while the Uncrowned Kings like Teppei simply achieved a height with their skills that sadly doesn’t compare to the monsters. The rest of the Uncrowned Kings are also slowly featured in the anime. According to my spoiling fujoshi friend, the anime even goes as far as introducing former Generation of Miracle members in the manga expanding the story into something more than about the Generation of Miracles.
One thing I love about the gifted monsters is that they’re arrogant and they are the perfect antagonist in a show about being better than your opponent. In the first season, I still distinctly remember Midorima’s arrogance over how his shots never missed. Every time he scored, he would make sure his opponents gets to see him boast afterwards. Hell, the way he releases a ball and turns around arrogantly while his shoot sinks in ring-less can get you riled up. They have talent and they have assured themselves to be unbeatable thus their annoying arrogance. I remember Aomine has a line where he believed the only person that can beat him is himself. Hell, the captain, Akashi, doesn’t participate in games because he knows he will win. “There’s no fun in playing if you know you’ll win” is what he would say. They’re the kind of antagonists that you simply want beaten. It doesn’t take that much effort as well because they back up their arrogance with their skill. As much as you want them beaten, you also can’t help but feel amazed at how awesome they are. It’s that kind of a complex setup that I really find fascinating about the show. You cheer for the characters to beat them so their arrogant asses can be humbled but you also want to see the main characters work for it. Nothing is ever a fluke in this anime. No one gives an inch and everyone is pushed to their limits. Seeing the characters win is a payoff unlike any other but I personally want them to lose at times just to see how the awesome match can be outdone in their re-match. The antagonists really do a good job to make each match up more complex. Even the non-Generation of Miracle bad guys provides a lot to the show. Simple side characters from the other team can add a lot as well. The anime often sets up a bad guy during a fight and the build-up is often good enough to add more depth to the match. A simple assist by the Shutoku High captain to Midorima while he has a devilish grin can add a lot to the story.
There are also characters that add commentary in a match. I don’t know where to put this but, like any good sports anime, people talking during the fight gives the story more meaning. There are certain instances where people they recently beat or coaches or mentors are attending a game and they often explain a situation or add insight to a character. It can be anyone, really. The important thing is that they also help improve the pacing of the game. It’s a very old style of storytelling. When Midorama sets up for a shoot, a character watching the game will point out that his stance is off and that he’ll miss the basket. He might be tired but a simple commentary adds more depth to that particular scene. Sports anime does this a lot and it’s to give off a more big fight feel between two interesting teams. If you add the focus on the skills of the athlete, the side story about never giving up, the engaging characters, the high stakes progression of the game and the various commentary and monologues then you have an idea at how complex each match of the anime actually is.
I knew I’d love this anime but you’d be surprised how many times I yell at amazement and how many times I find myself having cold sweat as I am closely glued to the screen. I particularly don’t like sports anime that much. Basketball is a hobby of mine so I’m easily pulled in. The matches alone can get you really worked up and I really love how Production IG stayed true to each panel of the manga. They even gave time to the fillers the manga had from time to time. I am especially amazed at the author though. I often wonder how a basketball match can be exciting in the pages of the manga but it just does. You work it in your head and it’s as exciting as the anime complete with the bishies sweating and all. This anime isn’t complete though. I won’t tell why but it just isn’t. It doesn’t matter though because the matches alone give enough pay off worth waiting close to a year for. I just hope there is another season. I think there will be because they took time to build up other characters that weren’t that important in the second season. Then again, the show animated every panel of the manga so I’m not really sure. If they do decide to make a season three then you can expect me to scream like a fangirl and shoot rainbows out of my eyes. Kuroko no Basket is an experience you can’t find anywhere else. The high quality animation of Production IG is unmatched and the storytelling of the manga is complex on so many levels it’s a shame not to give us one more season to see Taiga shoot red sparks out of his eye.
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty much the same as well. It’s a combination of Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s wonderful attention to detail with Production IG’s own style of making characters look more eye candy. Tadatoshi’s design is complex as well. The first thing you’ll notice is the pointy faces. It is accentuated by the fierce eyes and the fact that the characters look really damn handsome. The way the hair adds personality to a character is coupled by the fact that every masculine chin and well-formed face makies them all that more handsome. I especially love it when a character is serious. Tadatoshi puts a lot of details on the face because it tells the story in the manga. A close up shot of Taiga distressed trying to keep up with Aomine tells us his in deep balls and he’s struggling to get out of it. The face isn’t the only impressive thing though. As handsome as these characters are, you’ll also notice how masculine they are. The proportion is really my favorite thing. A masculine and broad shoulder coupled by sexy hips and muscle tones on the limbs. The way the author shades a character is amazing as well as it brings out the detailed muscle work you can’t help but admire. The tall figure also makes a character look great because clothes often hide the muscles but a lumbering dude with broad shoulders is a no brainer sexy thing to see. The whole design becomes different in the anime though simply because of the eyes. Production IG loves eyes and they often make sure important characters have amazing eyes (that doesn’t blink!!). The eyes alone can tell you how interesting a character is but if you add that with the author’s design then the characters becomes a lot more handsome. I also love the small details the anime carry over like the shading underneath the chin. It’s a lot darker in the manga but it’s still a small detail most would not carry over.
I also love how the anime carried over the sweat. I know it sounds weird but a general rule in most hentai is that sweat is as unappealing as having pubic hair. Putting it in your character will make them look unappealing. Some ecchi manga would have overly detailed sweat in all the wrong places to make a scene intimidating. If you carry that over to a moving animation then it’ll easily turn viewers off. It takes a masterful studio like Production IG to make sweat look appealing. You might think that it’s just water with low opacity but the placing is crucial and the presentation must not look unappealing. They manage to do that wonderfully. They were able to capture every beading sweat in the manga without making it look gross. The amazing thing is that it’s prominently displayed in a character but their bishie potential is never ruined. It’s damn hard to do and Production IG makes it look easy.
There are also some female characters in the show and they are also nicely designed as well. One thing I noticed about Tadatoshi’s design is that it’s androgynous. Male and female both have the same round face with the same muscular built but with small nuances like slimmer legs and tighter hips. The reason Kuroko looks hot is because he looks like a girl and the design works both ways. Of course, the base might be the same but the details are different. A big breast and a small skirt can go a long way. I especially love the manager’s design. She has really big boobs but if you stare long enough, you’ll notice the face shape resemble Kuroko’s.
The animation is outstanding. It’s no surprise coming from Production IG. They do complicated stuff like this in their sleep. The eyes still don’t blink though. I think they’re adamant about that but everything else is amazing. The movements in the court are so natural that you’re easily caught up in the matches. From characters dribbling the ball to passing the ball to another, the body positioning is natural and the characters still look beautiful doing that. Their eye candy appeal is never compromised. When they dunk or does a three point though, it’s all animation from there. The transitions alone are outstanding but the way the characters maintain their personality during each shot is outstanding. Their arrogant face is still in high detail but the way their body transitions from a normal stance to a jumping position to releasing the ball midair is just short of poetry. It gets all the more insane when you specifically see Aomine just run wild. The way he drives a ball, dodge two defense and then jump up to slam the ball on the basket is just sheer awesomeness. The camera angles are static. It would close up on a character, dance around with him and then changes last minute to deliver an awesome slow shot of the character putting the ball in the basket. Kuroko no Basket is full of complexities and that’s what makes this show amazing. When a character goes one-on-one with another, it’s another complex animation of its own. Can you imagine two characters stuck together moving independently? It takes a whole lot of minor details to make it work and that looks natural in this show. Aomine and Taiga going one on one is a whole new level of animation awesomeness that I am so glad I waited this long to see it. There are moments as well when the animation adds effect to certain scenes. One example would be Kuroko passing a ball. The ball would often fluctuate while a stream of air passes violently as it’s thrown across the court. When Murasakibara slams a ball into the basket, there is also a noticeable stream of air to make him look menacing. Of course, the show is filled with CG as well. My favorite CG scene would be the ball twirling in the air as you notice the lines rotate and then slowly entering the basket that sways differently when the ball goes through it. No scene of the same ball hoop motion is the same. They actually took the time to make every ball hoop motion different using CG. It’s insane when you realize it. Lastly, the show does employ some recycled motion from time to time and I must point it out. I can forgive that because it doesn’t happen often but some of it does in the same episode and it’s just lazy at best.
The anime has two OP. The first OP is “The other self” by GRANRODEO. It’s a wonderful J-rock with an impressive intro. The singer’s voice is pretty decent but it’s ultimately elevated by the lyrics of the song. It’s about fighting hard to get what you want and aiming high while you rely on your team to assure you of your victory. It’s a really inspirational song and fits the tenacity of the anime. The Op sequence features all the characters. It has Aomine and Taiga fighting in glorious animation, the Seirin team practicing and the Generation being introduced. It also has a highly complex animation of Kuroko with a crowd applauding him in the intro. If you notice, you’ll see each member of the crowd moves differently and they cheer individually which is a complex animation if there ever was one. Seriously, it’s like ten seconds and it has more than fifty individual movements animated in it. The second OP is “Hengen Jizai no Magical Star” by GRANRODEO. Oddly, this is a romance song about a boy unsure if he should ask a girl out. I’m thinking it’s more than that but I suck at interpreting songs. It has a nice verse though but the chorus isn’t that grand. I’m just glad the singer has a stand out voice. The Op sequence features all the characters and a short montage of what happens in the second half of the anime including Kurok’s new found skills of shooting.
The anime has two ED. The first ED is “WALK” BY OLDCODEX. It’s fairly hard to listen to the lyrics because it’s intentionally being drowned out by the instrumentals of the song. I think the song is about hustling and giving it your all to attain your goal but I’m not really sure. It has a cool arrangement but I think it’s just trying to be flashy and it does so wonderfully though. It has a catchy chorus as well even though I can barely hear the lyrics. The ED sequence is just a shot of the characters all looking sexy and intimidating at the same time with Kuroko walking with his back turned at the end of it. The second ED is “FANTASTIC TUNE” by Kensho Ono. This dude voiced Kuroko and you can clearly hear how amazing his natural voice sounds. This is a particularly decent paced song as oppose to the high paced ones we’ve heard so far. This one is simply made great by the beautiful voice of Kensho. He has a way of making certain lines of the verse pretty catchy and it actually stands out more than the chorus. The song is about going all out and never faltering because success stories aren’t made by scaredy cats. It’s a really nice song. The ED sequence is pretty awesome as well. I love how a ball sequence where every member of Seirin high holds it has a continuous shot complete with complex animation. It also featured various teams the face met in the second season. It ends with Seirin High standing together being bathe in light with their serious game faces on.
9/10 “Aomine vs. Taiga is something you’ll be glad you saw. Kuroko no Basket is a unique sports experience you’ll rarely encounter and vehemently admire.”
I still consider Slam Dunk as the best basketball anime but that’s just my nostalgia talking. Kuroko no Basket is an amazing sports anime with a strong and captivating storytelling with the high quality animation of Production IG. It’s intense and it’s exciting all the way. If you love sports anime then you should definitely watch this. If you love bishies doing anything that makes them look handsome then you’ll enjoy this anime. If you’re simply a fan of how Production IG releases titan anime then you shouldn’t miss one of their best in 2013. I highly recommend it.