It’s time to start my trio of Super Shounen moments of 2012, which has been probably the best year for shounen since… well, in a really long time. These next three entries are the shows that I’m so swept up in that I still can’t really form a coherent thought about them, so bear with me if I stumble over words a bit.I’ve already written at length about Kuroko’s Basketball as a whole, and even briefly touched on this scene, but I’d like to give some more attention to this one big game.
By the second half-or-so of the series, I was getting super-pumped for the new episode each week, but it wasn’t until the last three or four episodes that Kurobas really stole my heart. Not only did it have the balls (pun intended) to literally put its main character in the bleachers for the final, most climactic game of the season, but that game ended up being the best in the series so far.
Let’s look at some of the things this game did for Kurobas:
It further expanded upon the idea of “Kuroko’s Basketball,” and established Aomine as a kind of “anti-Kuroko.” Where Kuroko is terrible at basketball and his play style relies heavily on his teammates, Aomine is so good and so arrogant that he is essentially a one-man team. This contrast – between Aomine’s one-man street ball style and Kuroko’s emphasis on teamwork – is the central ideological conflict of the series, and while it was brought up in the previous game between Kuroko and Aomine, it ironically was given more focus in this final showdown, which doesn’t even involve Kuroko. That this is the case demonstrates how losing to Seirin has taught the Miracles – namely Kise in this case – the value of Kuroko’s Basketball and being able to rely on one’s teammates.
It pushed the Generation of Miracles to their limits. We got to see Kise, who was the first Miracle that Kuroko’s team faced and the easiest to overcome, seriously improve his game and show that he’s capable of much more. By the end of the game, he was on par with the Aomine that had so utterly dominated Kuroko’s team in the game before. Similarly, Aomine was essentially forced to play against the only player who can beat him – himself. He got frequently pushed into dangerous situations and had to continually pull out more and more ridiculous tricks to get out of them – we saw more and more of what this beastly player was capable of when he pulled out the stops.
It revealed and played on the the past of the Generation of Miracles. We got to see the rivalry and interesting relationship between Aomine and Kise, and gain insight into their specific skills and motivations on the court. This look into their history built up the tension between them on the court even higher than it was before, as Kise fought to equal the teammate he had always looked up to. Most sports shows won’t bother to look this deeply into the opponent characters, and that Kurobas gives the Miracles such attention is one of the things that makes it stand out.
Watching two non-Seirin teams play against each other showed a different side of the players that we normally would only have seen as opponents. In addition to the Miracle players themselves, this game showcased the team dynamics that each side has going on outside of their Miracles’ abilities. Some of the lesser players on each side got their chances in the spotlight, and part of the reason that the teamwork theme of Kuroko’s Basketball came in so strongly here was that there was a clear contrast between the respect Kise’s team had for him and the disdain that Aomine’s had for him.
And of course, it was just a really freaking exciting game. It had some of the series’ best animation and most interesting camera moves, a killer matchup between two very strong teams, and a whole barrelfull of the crazy stunts that earn Kurobas’s not-quite-basketball sport the name “BS-Ball.”
In a game with so many things going for it, the pivotal moment occurs as Kise finally unleashes his copy of Aomine’s inimitable style. The cheesy guitar music gives way to a wailing chorus of violins to build the tension, until, for an instant, both the music and Kise are gone. When the camera finds him, he’s breaking past Aomine and making a dash for the basket. Aomine tries to chase him down, ultimately ending in the double whammy of earning his fourth foul and watching as Kise nails the three-point play with his own signature behind-the-back shot. The game has changed, and Kise has turned up the heat. This is where all of those things I listed above came together in one scene and let it be known that this show means business.
With the whole threat letter fiasco revolving around this show, I really hope we can still get a second season. If that crazy guy somehow gets it cancelled, I’ll… I’ll… well, I’ll probably go and be sad in a corner for a while.