Kuroko no Basuke – 21
「始めるわよ」 (Hajimeru wa yo)
“Let’s Get Started”
A beach episode, Kuroko no Basuke style! But wait for the kicker – this one is actually relevant to plot.
Episodes like these in KuroBasu are solid proof of the show’s merits; it plays directly to its greatest strength – the eclectic mix of characters – and it doesn’t rely on clichéd crutches to tell their story. Make no mistake; the plot of the show is nothing spectacular. If anything, it’s a classic set-up for sports shounen and there is little in Kuroko no Basuke that defies the genre’s norms in terms of story. But in a universe full of anime with extremely generic plots, how is it possible to differentiate one cardboard cutout from the other? Reimagining a genre is certainly one option, but a more emphatic way for a series to distinguish itself is by having a cast of characters the audience can remember and care about. This show in particular has done that exceedingly well, and focuses the viewer’s attention strictly on them – what this results is in natural drama that builds itself off the characters rather than artificial drama that results from the use of histrionics or some exaggerated circumstance.
Of course, this training camp is the furthest thing from “dramatic”. It’s comedy all around, with a sharper and more cohesive delivery reminiscent of the earlier episodes when the mood was light and enthusiastic. Someone pointed out the awkward laughs from a couple episodes ago might have been due to the obstacle Seirin was facing as a team, so this lighter turn should mark the return of the energized Seirin, just in time for the last stretch. Shuutoku’s inclusion was a nice surprise, although it does come with a dash of convenient contrivance. But if that contrivance brings about the advent of Midorima and his rubber duck, so be it. This is probably as lively as he’s ever going to get, and his rapport with Takao is among the best in the series, after Kagami and Kuroko, and Hyuuga and Riko. The Shuutoku point guard is the perfect foil to the shooter’s stoic, straight man routine, although it’s difficult to tell just which one of them is the straight man when Midorima’s obsession with horoscope gets added into the equation.
Most of the comedy in the episode came from Riko though, who really shone in more ways than one, as a girl who can’t cook worth a damn and as a coach with an impressive intuition; in many aspects she is like a supporting actresses who is amazing, but hard to take notice of since their role is integrated so much into the periphery of things, and because of the solid strength of the main cast (think Inception, where everybody was good). But this episode gave her some well-deserved limelight and cemented in the reason why she’s Seirin’s coach – she knows what her team needs and although she might not have Momoi’s analytical skills, Riko possesses a strength that is much her own, one that compliments her team. And that’s what’s more important; Seirin is a team that wins together and loses together. Teamwork is almost like a reflex to them, an intuition rather than motions that are taught. As their coach, Riko is the only one able to cultivate it to its maximum potential, just like how Hyuuga is a better fit to be captain than Kiyoshi. These are shoes only they can fill. The two of them are highly compatible with each other, and not just in a romantic sense. As partners they are two halves of one whole; they help create the Seirin brand – without either of them it’s difficult, maybe even impossible, to recreate the same team.
Speaking of Hyuuga, what a gentleman he is! He’s certainly not typically considerate, but he is sensible when it counts. It’s impossible to call Riko’s abomination “food” but voicing that is not an option – despite her clear lack of skill, she still put in a considerable amount of effort preparing the dish, and it would have been unfair to her not to acknowledge that at the very least. Hyuuga’s and Kiyoshi’s valiant sacrifices and eloquent words truly make them men amongst men, and if Kuroko no Basuke were a romance show, this would have been one convincing love triangle.
Perhaps it’s Hyuuga’s subtle sensibility and reliability that make him a better candidate to be captain. As wise and omniscient as Kiyoshi is, he doesn’t possess the same kind of seriousness as Hyuuga does, and on some levels, I think Kiyoshi lacks the gravitas and leadership skills necessary to lead a team properly. Part of it stems from the image he projects of himself – everyone perceives him to be somewhat of a birdbrain. A very capable birdbrain, but a birdbrain nonetheless. But a bigger part of it is that this is how Kiyoshi wants to be seen. He’s certainly shrewd enough to lead a team, but that’s not the role he wants; his style is more to step in and give a push when needed, rather than constantly being in the forefront and asserting authority. His personality is too laidback to keep Seirin in the running for championship games, and the fact Kiyoshi is well aware of this is what makes him such a well-written character. On the surface, he seems to be the perfect candidate for captain – not that Hyuuga isn’t doing a good job, but because Kiyoshi seems like he’ll be able to do it just as well. The potential is certainly there for him, but his personality isn’t suited to bring out the best in Seirin, and he knows it.
I have to wonder though, how much of Riko’s atrocious cooking is actually “cooking” and not just her mixing random crushed vitamin supplements into the food. From the honey incident, it’s clear she can’t cook, but without the extra additions, surely her dishes will become edible even without Kagami’s supervision?
In any case, next week seems to wrap up Seirin’s training and includes the prelude to the Aomine vs. Kise match. I think it’s been two whole episodes since Kise’s been gone, so it’ll be good to have him back for some actual plot-related appearance. Besides the obvious adrenaline rush KuroBasu does so well with its match-centric episodes, the Touou vs. Kaijou game will also be a good test of the show’s ability to keep the tension and drama just as high when the focus shifts away from Seirin, and hence, Kuroko and Kagami.
- Hyuuga Junpei: grade-S boyfriend material. Kagami gets massive points for being able to cook.
- That rubber duck. Don’t most people ditch tub toys when they’re ten?
- Last time water was involved, there were boobs. So naturally, since this episode involved beaches and sweaty boys, I thought there would be abs. And just when I was about to complain about the inequality in fanservice… Kagami nearly goes full-frontal. WELL OKAY THEN. Show: 1, Mochi: 0. I’m sorry I doubted you KuroBasu. Never again. You’re all for equality.
- Aw. Looks like Kise managed to get on Kuroko’s team after all.
- Hyuuga x Riko x Kiyoshi confirmed?
Important Note: I’m relocating to another freezer, so even though I’ll try my best to be timely, please do note that my posts might be delayed a few days, or possibly even a week!
ED2: 「カタルリズム」 (Kataru Rizumu) by (OLDCODEX)