Anime Review: Kuroko’s Basketball
Kuroko’s Basketball is the English name for the anime originally called Kuroko no Basuke in Japan. This name is commonly shortened to KNB, which is what I’ll be calling it for this review. KNB is a sports anime based off of the manga of the same name. The manga ran from 2008 to 2014, while the anime ran from 2014 to 2016. It was a popular show, but came out at a time where it was impossible to dominate the anime market. There were some huge shows running at the time, and KNB ended up falling to the wayside somewhat when running against titans like Kill La Kill, Tokyo Ghoul, No Game No Life, and other big titles.
The show definitely has a lot of high points, and I did really enjoy it. However, it’s definitely not in my top 10, and just barely makes my top 50. It seems to model itself after the early days of sports anime, and therefore it falls victim pretty hard to the tropes that plague the sports genre. But overall, it’s fun to watch, and that’s what really matters, right?
KNB follows the story of Tetsuya Kuroko, a basketball player in his first year of high school. At the start of the show, we’re introduced to the concept of the Generation of Miracles – a middle school basketball team that dominated the scene, beating every opponent and winning every game they played. However, after middle school, the team disbanded and all the members went to different schools. When the show talks about the Generation of Miracles, they always mention 5 players by name, then point out that one is missing. There’s talk of a “mystery” sixth member of the Generation of Miracles, but it’s heavily implied, basically told to the viewer, that this sixth member was Kuroko. The series begins with Kuroko joining the basketball team and joining forces with Taiga Kagami – a fellow teammate who’s determined to beat every member of the Generation of Miracles, one by one.
The show is pretty simple in concept. The characters get better at basketball, they play basketball, and they win the basketball games. Like I said, pretty simple. The execution is where this show makes itself interesting. See, when it comes to sports anime, the creator has to make one important decision: realism, or extreme exaggeration. I’ve only before talked about the shows that go for the realism direction, but KNB takes the other route: extreme exaggeration. And boy, do they sure exaggerate. Every basic maneuver in basketball is turned into a special technique complete with insane FX and flashing lights. Even a simple crossover is played out over the course of, like, 5 minutes.
While some might find this to get old after a while, or just not be interesting in the first place, I love it. It makes the show feel like an episode of Naruto, but it’s just basketball. The show is basically just a few games of basketball played out over the course of multiple episodes each, so it has to have some spice to make it interesting. And spice it sure does have. Each of the five members of the Generation of Miracles has their own special “ability” which Kuroko and Taiga’s team needs to overcome.
KNB’s major downfall is the way that every arc is structured in an identical way. The arc begins and the team struggles against the abilities of the GoM member. All hope starts to seem lost, as the score starts tilting against the protagonists. Kuroko and Taiga work together to figure out a strategy to beat it just in time, and slowly bring the score back to their side, and they win. Not to spoil it, but you start to realize the pattern after the third win – they. Always. Win. Kuroko’s team does not lose a single game in the entire series. While very satisfying to watch after coming from shows like Free!, it sort of puts the series in a tough spot. If they continue with the pattern, the show inevitably gets stale and loses watchers. But if they switch up the pattern and have the team lose for the first time in 70 episodes, it’s incredibly disappointing – to the point where you will probably lose watchers as well.
Overall, KNB was fun to watch. It was good fun, and at the end of the day, the show is entertaining and well-written. The characters are fun and there’s a big element of comedy to it. It’s satisfying to always see the good guys win, and takes the stress element out of not knowing whether or not they’re actually going to win. I really would recommend giving it a watch if you’re a fan of sports anime, simply for the satisfaction.