Final Review: Kuroko no Basuke

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless otherwise noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Kuroko no Basuke is a basketball anime that premiered in Spring 2012 and ran for 25 episodes. It is based on an ongoing manga that features Tetsuya Kuroko, the sixth mysterious and unknown member of the Generation of Miracles basketball team. In high school, Kuroko vows to prove his former teammates wrong that “teamwork” will always prevail over going solo. He meets Taiga Kagami and both decide to partner and take aim at the inter-high school championship where along the way they will contest against Kuroko’s former teammates. Kuroko no Basuke was simulcasted on CrunchyRoll.

To start off, my initial impressions of this show was that it tried too hard to be like Slam Dunk from 1993-1996 or even Dear Boys from 2003. Turns out I was half right. This show is definitely better than Dear Boys with its “level of suspense” but nowhere near the epic presentation that Slam Dunk had. Granted that Slam Dunk had 101 episodes while Kuroko no Basuke only had 25 episodes, I felt there was a lot more wasted space in the latter title. Character wise, Kagami and Kuroko were nowhere near interesting characters as the other members of the Generation Miracles, two of which were not actually introduced in the show despite numerous appearances in the OP/ED videos as well as the opening narration in the earlier episodes. While the Generation of Miracles’s “skills” are certainly through the roof and too some extent outright impossible, it made the show much more enjoyable than say Kagami’s or Kuroko’s character. Heck, even their teammates were generally bland and dull. Pacing wise, the show definitely had most of it down until the final few episodes where it decides to end on a very odd yet interesting spot in the story. The show definitely leaves room for a potential sequel and if anything it would be more than welcomed for this show. The weakest aspect of the “story” though is its lack of proper character development and growth. The show goes on a lot about “training” and trying to be better than the Generation of Miracles but we don’t really see much aside from Kagami “jumping” higher and higher each time. The rest of the team pretty much gets shafted and the audience is left to wonder what exactly grew in the other team members, including Kuroko. It leaves a lot to be desired yet overlooked because many people like get caught up in the “suspense” of the games.

Art wise is very basic and generic. Characters are not exactly smooth despite being drawn in a bishounen like style . Furthermore, the designs are entirely basic outside the Generation of Miracles and the two leads. Just because they have “special skills” doesn’t really mean that one should just make all other characters irrelevant, especially if the story is trying to emphasize Kuroko’s teamwork strategy. Last I checked official basketball is played with at least 5 members on each team. Animation is by I.G. Production. Given I.G.’s recent track record, including Guilty Crown, The New Prince of Tennis, Moshidora, Blood-C, and Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san, my standards have been pretty low for them. They seem to be doing more sports titles lately so if we compare say The New Prince of Tennis or Moshidora to this, The New Prince of Tennis is levels beyond this show and Moshidora’s quality is comparable to this. That said, I.G. Production really has a lot of room for improvement. They are far from the days of Ghost in the Shell or xxxHolic and are gradually falling to the low levels that J.C. Staff has fallen over time. Visuals wise, it’s overly and unnecessarily colorful with the different hair colors of the Generation of Miracles while everyone else’s hair are effectively the same color. They don’t really need to stand out more than they already do.

OPs are both by Granrodeo. Granrodeo is generally an okay band and their music for this show continues to do just that. The first ED theme is by the “epic” Hyadain who always has the most ridiculous voice and songs. Again, no exception. OLDCODEX does the second ED theme. I’ve never heard of theme and I’m not really a big fan of the song. Background music is above average with a few memorable tracks, particularly the piano themes. Sound effects are pretty accurate with typical basketball effects. Nothing noteworthy though. Seiyuu wise, the cast is very appropriate. The show casts more experienced seiyuus to take on the role of the Generation of Miracles less Kuroko while casting less experienced seiyuus as the two leads. This helps the show by making the whole experienced vs. non-experienced argument between both actual seiyuus as well as the basketball players/teams in the show. Could use a bit better acting overall though.

Enjoyment? Kuroko no Basuke has been a wild ride to say the least. At points I was definitely feeling Cross Game level suspense and at times I was feeling this series was completely dead in the water with little value. That said, it has certainly done better than a counterpart sports anime known as Area no Kishi, which also tries the “serious” sport with comedy act. Kuroko no Basuke is definitely an interesting watch if you could get into the idea of watching a sports anime by itself. Though, Slam Dunk does this better albeit much lengthier. Cross Game or any other Adaichi works also does it much better with a touch of other genres like romance thrown in. Giant Killing is another show that I would recommend, though this focuses more on soccer/football. Same concept in the end though.

Overall, Kuroko no Basuke is a fair watch and certainly better than a majority of the titles airing these past two seasons. It’s a low budget show, however, and I wish they could have at least improved that aspect. Nevertheless, it’s worth a try if you can’t stomach watching 100+ episodes of Slam Dunk instead. Just don’t hold your expectations as high.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Fair setup. Typical “I want to be the very best” start.
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): Kuroko is an interesting character to say the least at times but that’s about it.
  • Character Development (1/2): We saw a bit of Kagami’s growth but the rest of the characters are shafted despite the show saying “they grew.”
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Given Kuroko’s presence, he sure makes himself known rather than unknown. Outside of Kagami and the Generation of Miracles, the rest of the cast is pretty much forgettable.
  • Pacing: (1/1): Pacing is solid overall. Could use a little less fluff in the middle.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1.5/2): Some of the Generation of Miracles’s skills are too much (e.g. Midorima). Aomine is at least believable as is Kise’s. I guess Kuroko’s and Kagami’s “skills” are also believable.
  • Conclusion (1/1): Overall strong conclusion despite obvious. Sequel is very plausible.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (0.5/2): Basic and generic. Little to no effort
  • Character Designs (1/2): For bishounen like designs, the designs are rough overall. Outside primary cast, the rest of the cast all look the same.
  • Fluidity (2/2): Very nice. Solid basketball movements.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1.5/2): Overly flashy with the hair colors
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): This is quality equivalent to Moshidora. I.G. is sinking lower and lower each time for some reason.
  • Total: 6/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2/3): OP themes are both okay. ED theme is not really fitting for the show but hilarious in its own right. ED2 is fitting but not my cup of tea
  • Background Music (1.5/2): Above average music.
  • Sound Effects (1.5/2):  Above average
  • Seiyuu (2.5/3): Solid cast with a nice balance of experience and inexperienced seiyuus.
  • Total: 7.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1.5/2): Good balance of comedy with “serious” sports.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1.5/2): During games/matches, things get really interesting. Outside of that, it’s pretty boring due to lack of proper character development.
  • Presentation (1.5/2): Proper continuous flow. Nothing to really say here except linear in a good way.
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): Has some rewatch value. Short in length but ending may be dissatisfying to some if no sequel follows.
  • Recommendation (1.5/2): Slam Dunk is generally better. Giant Killing does the same as this show with soccer/football instead. Similarly, Adaichi’s works does the same with baseball and romance.
  • Value (0.5/1): Has some long-term value if it continues with its current pace. Definitely eager to see what Kagami and Kuroko into as well as the remaining two members of the Generation of Miracles.
  • Total: 7/10

Preliminary Score: 7/10

Final Score: 7/10

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