This is review number four hundred and forty four. This anime is part of the Winter 2015 lineup and it’s called Kuroko no Basket season 3. It’s a twenty five episode anime about the ridiculousness of Buzzer Beater and the handsome people of Slam Dunk. I kid, I haven’t seen both shows. It is about basketball though. Let’s read on.
The anime is about the semifinals and the finals of the Winter Cup where the Generation of Miracles gather. Seirin comes in blazing, but they’ll soon face the toughest members of the generation as they are up against a team that does not believe they can ever lose.
Taking the Pants Off
Ok, I was supposed to review the Tamako Movie but then I decided to watch one episode of this anime. I finished the series in two days. That was fun. I actually forgot how fun the series is, and it didn’t really waste time going to the good stuff. Each episode is packed with so many things and you can tell they’re ending the story right here. I really only wanted to see this because of Akashi, the last member of the Generation of Miracles that the main characters haven’t fought yet. It has been years since I saw the last season, but I kinda still remember how ridiculous the Aomine showdown was. This show is really just ridiculous in nature, but it makes for an exciting experience. It’s the only reason I finished twenty five episodes in two days. It is that insane of a season. It really made sure that it topped the craziness of the first two seasons, and boy was it one hell of a ride. From start to finish, the third season really had the best moments, the best match ups and it didn’t waste any time. Let’s not waste them either. Let’s talk about Akashi already.
The Semi Finals
We did get a proper introduction to Akashi when his team fought Midorima’s team in the semifinals. I just want to talk about Akashi in length now, because this dude feels like he belongs in a different anime. The guy is just so ridiculously overpowered that it’s a bit unfair considering how OP the entire premise of the show is. That’s really the beauty of Kuroko no Basket. It’s about going one notch higher than the previous bout before it. I mean, we ended with Aomine who fought like a beast and you just know Akashi is a notch higher. In fact, he was able to nullify Midorima’s three point accuracy with his insane powers. The dude is so sure of himself that most fights involving him is pretty one sided. Yes, that’s how beastly Akashi is and I’m glad I actually waited close to three years avoiding spoilers just to watch this show. It was only a matter of time before Kagami himself fights this beast of a player. That happens in the finals though. The anime opened with the semis, and there was a genuine surprise waiting for us there too.
I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that Seirin met Rakuzan in the finals. Kagami and Kuroko fought Akashi and the remaining uncrowned kings in the last chapter of the show. Really, the entire thing leading up to it is just formality. The semis are such a giveaway that they already fought the guy they’re facing in the semi-finals. It’s Kise, who Kagami obliterated first, that meets them before Akashi. Now Kise might already be a familiar character, but the first match of the third season is actually dedicated to setting him up as the fiercest member of the Generation of Miracles second only to Akashi. Yeah, seriously, Kise can be better than Aomine. How? You’ll just have to see for yourself.
Face Offs and Team Play
While this anime relies on nonsensical over the top bullsh*t to create a story, it is still fundamentally basketball. Of course, ordinary B-ball has more fouls and players often let the clock run out on their opponent, but the spirit of the sport is still nicely represented in this anime. I know I dismissed it when I first saw the previous two seasons. This is ridiculous basketball and it’s mostly about suspending disbelief to fully enjoy the show. Maybe that’s the case for the first two seasons, since it did rely heavily on gimmicks to keep the games fun. When you see Midorima score from the opposite end of the court, you just don’t want to give this show a chance. I soon realize that it’s really just part of what makes it so Shounen Jump. If you can look past the ridiculous powers of the players, the pacing of the game is still about the fundamentals of basketball. Team play is key here and the one-on-one showdowns are where the story shines. I remember dismissing Kuroko over Haikyuu, because the latter had more sport in it. I soon realize as well that they’re both different beasts. Well, yeah, Haikyuu is a much better show in my opinion but Kuroko is up there too. He might play like the shadow, but he is clearly not overshadowed. This show stands on its own as it makes an exciting sport even more exciting in its anime format.
I think Haikyuu shines more because it does utilize every player on the court. It emphasizes team play more. You know every player that touches the ball from both teams while Kuroko mostly have Kagami face an overpowered opponent. This was fixed slightly in the final season where the focus is spread across the players. While it doesn’t feature all ten characters on the court, it does stop being a Kagami show. The three pointers have their battle on the three point line, the centers are battling for rebound under the ring and the point guards are having their own showdown over the ball. It’s spread out now and it makes the games a lot more exciting. When Kise went beast mode, his team was never overshadowed. The team captain was ready to back him up and Seirin had to utilize all members to stop the beast mode. And, holy sh*t, was it a spectacle.
The Basketball He Plays
You’d think the momentum of the Kise semifinal bout would carry over to the finals, but the anime pulled a fast one on us. We got a flashback out of nowhere as it follows the Generation of Miracles from their start as a novice team to their unstoppable status. Seriously, this segue way came out of nowhere. It felt like an OVA than an actual part of the third season. It focuses on Kuroko joining the team, bottoming out and eventually picked by Akashi to be a shadow for the team. Considering the entire episode leading up to the finals is all formality, this flashback is a bit infuriating. I want to see Akashi and Kagami fight like ridiculous OP bastards already. This flashback is pretty important though, because it kinda sets up the entire story of the anime as it traces where it all began.
The middle school team actually started out as buddies until they eventually imploded. The weight of their own success crushes them until they become completely different individuals from when they started. It also answers why the title is called “The Basketball which Kuroko plays”, because the one Akashi plays is wholly different. The title holds more meaning though once you watch this flashback chapter of the show. I mostly like how they all acknowledge that they want to be the best among the team so they all went to different schools knowing full well their paths will cross once more. If this flashback was foreshadowed better, maybe peppered in many places, and not just plopped in the middle of the finals and semifinals, then it would be more meaningful. After all, it not only traces Akashi and Kuroko’s history but it also highlights why Aomine became a selfish player, how Murasakibara became so conceited and why Kuroko joined Seirin high out of all the schools in Tokyo. It also has zero relation to Kagami, so I think that’s good. The dude had too much time in the spotlight.
The game between Seirin and Rakuzan is insane. From start to finish, the story just never lets up. It features the OP powers of the main key players, the team play of both team and enough twist to make up for the entire three seasons. From the reveal of the new model that Akashi found to Akashi himself entering the zone, the match is just a cathartic experience you all need to experience. Rakuzan has always played a one sided game favoring them, but you know Seirin won’t back down without a fight. Yes, they fought really hard. All the players are given time to shine and all the character arcs are brought together for this final game. In fact, the audience even had the rest of the Miracles and their character arcs brought in for this last game. It’s a game of absolute. A team built to succeed against a team that fights with its light and shadow. This fight is so ultimate that it even featured an ultimate zone just for the heck of it. Gawd, I’m trying my best not to spoil everything but just know I wasted my weekend with this anime. It is that damn good.
I’d just like to say that you can’t make a manga as exciting as Kuroko without being an avid basketball fan yourself. I am certainly not, but Tadatoshi certainly is. He’d have to seen a lot of NBA during his lifetime to create Kuroko. Packed in the series are so many references and tributes to so many famous basketball players. He tells the story embodying the spirit of a fan and it emanates from the pages he draws. I wish I was a basketball fan so I can appreciate the story, but the fact that I’m not and I still get excited over the story means Tadatoshi really nailed it. He can get me to watch basketball, because his love for the sport convinces me. Really, as a Filipino, my card should be revoked since I should love basketball. It’s like an unwritten rule or something. I guess I’m writing this part of the review because Akashi does the ankle break in the anime. It’s a move that Allen Iverson does, and you should watch highlight reels about how he breaks ankles. It’s awesome, and Tadatoshi captured the split second moments down to really weave a narrative in it. It’s amazing. I actually wanted to link a post here comparing NBA players to the cast of the show, but it looks like Tadatoshi drew inspiration from many players highlighting the games themselves than any actual person. NBA fans are also insane fanboys with their writings so it’s off putting. If any smart B-ball fan is willing to educate us, then tell us in the comments below.
Tada, Takagi and Production IG
Shunsuke Tada directed the entirety of Kuroko from the first season to the last. He is also a storyboard artist for much of his career. More importantly, the dude was an assistant director for Slamdunk, so this anime had a legacy behind it. I’m sure Tadatoshi paced his manga incredibly well but Shunsuke really brought all that energy in the anime as well. His talents are certainly in the forefront and I think it’s because Production IG was behind him all the way. Can you really doubt a Production IG anime? This studio is a beast. For the random flashback sequence though, that credit goes to the one that made the series composition: Noboru Takagi. He is a series composer for majority of his career, but more importantly, he did that on both Baccano and Durarara. I guess that’s why the flashback is in a neat arc of its own, because he knew it would muddle the series if it was spread out. Production IG really brought top caliber players to bring this anime to life. It’s pretty insane. As insane as they are, because this studio is currently among the best there is. If you hear Production IG did an anime, then it’s done. It’s bound to be great. I consider them and A-1 Pictures to rule the roost in 2015 and I’m only in the first seasonal lineup. Really, the only time this studio disappointed me is when they did Guilty Crown. They’re not doing those kinds of shows anymore.
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty great. I don’t know what I said in my previous reviews, but Tadatoshi’s style is very bishounen looking. The manga featured a more tame design than the anime too. The intensity of the players never let up though, and the body proportions are as impressive as ever. I mostly love how there are so many detailed characters in one panel. When a game starts, the panels become overcrowded but they never lose their details. His heavy inking style ensures there is always emphasis on the characters playing the game. He weaves a lot of facial reactions in the other panels though giving you a sense of urgency in the story being told. I freaking love it. The way the characters are drawn in different angles while ensuring their posture is correct demands high consistency that Tadatoshi brings with ease. This consistency is carried over to the anime where dramatic camera angles, fierce facial reactions and slow mo bring the drama that Tadatoshi’s panels have. I just love the fact that the characters really stay cool and handsome even when they are covered in sweat. That takes talent. As for the character design itself, I do like how the bodies are never alike. Usually, some mangaka would keep the same body format for their characters. Tadatoshi doesn’t do this, since he may have actual models to pose for him or he does base a character from real life players. Either way, they stand out in their own way even if both characters do nothing but guard and rebound.
Animation is inconsistent. This was evident from the first few episodes where the color looks a bit off and the entire thing just doesn’t shine like your typical Production IG anime. This is even more evident when the finals feature the crispest animation of all. I realized Haikyuu came out the same time as the third season, and I think Production IG banked more on volleyball than B-ball. That’s just a theory though. In any case, the animation is off for a few episodes. While the storytelling is still precise and consistent, some episodes just lack shine. The use of camera angle, still shots, slow mo and intense facial reactions are utilized expertly though to make the narrative exciting. I was very withdrawn watching the Midorama vs Akashi fight, but I soon find myself yelling at my laptop once more. The storytelling is just that impressive. From the first season to the last, this anime made me scream at my laptop. It gives you an idea how masterful the directing is.
The anime has three OP songs indicating the three chapters. The first one is “Punky Funky Love” by GRANRODEO. This covers the semifinal games and the sequence reflects that. The song is kinda weird but you can never go wrong with GRANRODEO. These dudes will hype you up and the song alone will do that. The OP sequence that accompanies it adds more flair though. It gives a quick montage of the semis while also featuring all the key players in it. You can tell a lot of love and effort was poured in this OP and I freaking love it. The second one is “ZERO” by Kensho Ono. This is Kuroko’s own voice actor gracing us with his voice, and it’s pretty bland. I dunno. When you go against GRANRODEO can you ever win? It does illustrate that the flashback chapter is all about Kuroko and the Teiko team. It has its own OP about the generation of miracles and its sixth member. It’s pretty cute. The last one is “Memories” by GRANRODEO. This is the hypest OP of all, and it is matched by the best quality OP sequence as well. This is really where the high quality animation gears up, and the OP reflects that. Gawd, revisiting the OP gives me the chills. The anime also have three ED songs, but I don’t want to go over them one by one. Does anyone even read this section? Chime in on the comments. The first ED sequence does stand out since it featured baby Kuroko for no gawd damn reason. Maybe it’s some weird fan service, but holy sh*t was it so random and weird.
8/10 “The conclusion was obvious, but the path to get there is still so damn good it doesn’t matter where the show will end up.”
Is the last season as good as the previous two? No, not for me. The Aomine fight still felt a lot more intense, but it doesn’t mean this season is a bust. No, the third season is insane. It was one big moment after another. It was one big character showcase to the next. It was incredible animation after incredible animation. It’s the series really going out on a bang. I urge you all to try it. You will not regret it. I highly recommend it.
I’ll be reviewing the movie of Tamako Market next as requested by my patreon backer. It’ll be number four hundred forty five and A HALF (for real this time). Movies get half a number for me.
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