OP Sequence

OP: 「オープニングテーマ」 (“Can Do”) by (GRANRODEO)

Watch the OP!: Streaming ▼

「黒子はボクです」 (Kuroko wa Boku Desu)
“I am Kuroko”

I’m not sure if this is the series to break the long-standing record of sports shounen failing to make a splash at RC, but quality-wise it’s off to a pretty good start. And no one is going to blame me for lack of trying…

So, sports manga, basketball – is anyone going to be watching? Hard to say, but as a fairly devoted fan of the genre – perhaps my natural instinct to support the underappreciated (George is my favorite Beatle) I had high hopes for this one. I’ve skimmed the manga a bit and I think it’s quite good, which is the most important thing. We’ve also got the fact that Production I.G. is at the helm, which may not virtually guarantee high quality as it might’ve a few years ago, at least means the series will get a professional and serious treatment. Director Tada Shunsuke is an I.G. stalwart (Bungaku Shoujo, Tsubasa Chronicle, World Destruction and Prince of Tennis as well) and writer Takagi Noboru has written for Shiki, Baccano! and Natsume Yuujinchou (he’s also writing the Sankarea Adaptation).

So the pieces are in place – what about the results? So far, so good. The premiere was a very faithful adaptation of basically the first chapter of the manga, which certainly leads me to believe I.G. is at least hopeful of a multi-cour run. This is (duh) basically the story of Kuroko Tetsuya (Ono Kensho), a seemingly nondescript (though less so physically here than in the manga) first-year high school boy who joins the basketball club at the relatively new Seirin High School. Kuroko was a member of the Teiko “Generation of Miracles” – a legendary middle school team that destroyed all in their path. Kuroko was the mysterious sixth man on that team, but to look at him no one at his new club – especially arrogant and physically dominant Kagami Taiga (Ono Yuuki) – can figure out what makes him so good. This pinball wizard is smallish, not especially fast, and can’t really jump or shoot. So – what the hell?

This is definitely a Shounen Jump manga, make no mistake about it, and the answer is that Kuroko is a “shadow” who uses his lack of presence to his advantage. He’s a magician on the court, an incredible passer who has eyes in the back of his head and always seems to be where you least expect him to be. It all has an air of magical realism to it, but again, this is SJ – if you’re looking for gritty realism, this isn’t going to be your cup of tea. If you’re a basketball fan, it’s nice to see a celebration of passing and artistry over raw talent – though Kagami is a capable representative of that side of the game, too. He’s just returned from a stint in America (I wonder if he knew Nana from Area no Kishi?) and doesn’t think a whole lot of Japanese hoops – until, that is, he sees Kuroko in action against the second-years (there are no third-years, the school being too young) in the intrasquad game.

Most of the fun here, I think, is going to come from seeing Kuroko attack the game of basketball from such a skewed and unusual perspective. There’s also an eccentric cast of supporting players, about whom we don’t learn too much yet. The team is coached by young Aida Riko (Saito Chiwa), daughter of a fitness trainer, who takes the measure of the boys on her team (and freaks out the newbies) by scoping them out shirtless (Kagami is off the charts, Kuroko barely registers). The captain is Hyuuga Junpei (Hosoya Yoshimasa, actually playing another character who looks a lot like Arata) who seems like a classic hard-nosed overachiever. The rest of the squad (some second-years, some rookies) are basically bit players in the premiere but they’ll have their moments, and there are some name seiyuus in the group.

As in all sports shounen, there are going to be multiple threads woven as the series progresses. Kuroko and Kagami’s yin-yang relationship is at the core of the premiere, but there’s definitely going to be involvement from the others members of the Generation of Miracles – Kagami has already set surpassing them as his goal, and there are hints that Kuroko’s past with that group has a dark side. The major question is whether Kuroko himself will emerge as a compelling lead. It’s fantastic to hear Ono Kensho in a MC role again – he was great in Ghost Hound but sadly hasn’t worked much of late. He’s intentionally a cipher in the premiere – an intriguing enigma who reveals almost nothing of his motivations or feelings, except perhaps a quiet sort of pride. As in any SJ series, those walls will start to come down as we go forward, and I think they have the correct writer/director/actor combo to pull that off successfully. As for romance, it’s too soon to say – especially given that we can’t know yet how far Production I.G. will progress with the story.


ED Sequence

ED: 「エンディングテーマ」 (“Start it right away”) by (Hyadain)

Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼



  1. I haven’t watched all that many sports anime, but I really enjoyed this first episode. And it’s not just because I’m into basketball, but I thought it was well done. Some things were pretty laughable but I still enjoyed watching it. 🙂

    I haven’t read the manga so I’m looking forward to watching this one~ I already like it 10x more then Area no Kishi… :p

  2. I am into basketball and I must applaud them for their animation on this one. It is really hard for anime to contain all the tiny detailed body movements in basketball but they have surpassed my expectations in that regard. Sure it’s not perfectly realistic but best I have seen an anime do with basketball.

  3. I’m not sure if this is the series to break the long-standing record of sports shounen failing to make a splash at RC, but quality-wise it’s off to a pretty good start. And no one is going to blame me for lack of trying…

    You, sir, hit the nail with that first statement! I probably won’t watch this series since I’m not into sports-anime, but I applaud you nonetheless for those three lines 🙂

  4. I read the manga, and I know how disappointed I will be.

    A pretty good first episode. The animation is good as well… though not as good as Buzzer Beater’s

    One thing is for sure…the anime is definitely better than the manga

  5. I love sports anime (they’re the kind that makes you want to marathon). Definitely looks great so far. I’m hoping it doesn’t reach Prince of Tennis level of effects though (then again, even the source material of that one was absolutely exaggerated).

  6. Been following this manga since chapter 1 and I’m impressed with this first episode. The OP, ED and music is very good. I’m not yet bought on Kagami’s voice but Ono Yuki is okay I guess. He’s making a name for himself, playing 3 main characters this season, 2 of them are WSJ adaptations.
    Kuroko’s is okay. Saito Chiwa really has some range, didn’t recognize her voice here.
    The plot is just starting but seeing from the OP the players from the GoM, it seems this will be 2-cour or quite possibly long running so I’m excited to see the matches. It’s a very unappreciated manga that scrapes the bottom 5 of the ratings every week but somehow it doesn’t get cancelled. It spikes into the middle tier sometimes and made it to the top 5 a few times.
    I for one like it and will stick to it so expect one comment from me every week even though we both predicted that this won’t garner a lot of audience. Oh well.

    1. why give Espada negs for stating the obvious? Weird crowd at RC~~~~. Ok, his one liner is a bit snarky, but c’mon.

      I, too, wait for a new basketball show that will surpass or even equal Slam Dunk, but alas, I’m afraid that it won’t come. It’s like waiting for a new samurai show that will surpass or equal Kenshin. But then again, perhaps comparing this show to Slam Dunk is not entirely fair since this show is more targeted for younger or/and female audience whereas Slam Dunk can be enjoyed by kids to adults. Go back and see, especially early Slam Dunk manga and that crude artwork is clearly Way macho for female audience, for instance. Boys here are designed to give more Shōjo vibe on top of Shōnen material.

      some guy
    1. The 5 pre-air episodes of Ginga e Kickoff seems to be much better than Area no Kishi, too bad it seems there won’t be any subs for Ginga e Kickoff since most fansubbers seems to hate sports anime.

  7. A good sports manga needs a hero who is mediocre in some way so that an average reader can sympathize with. It is also needed for the characters to grow and the story to develop. The first episode looks promising.

      1. To be fair, Goro had a mediocre side too. He could only throw one kind of ball until season 5, which is considered to be pretty pathetic. Of course, it didn’t really matter because of his unbelievable speed, which was pretty much his only strong point.

      2. I don’t see it that way, really, because Goro was a prodigy right from S1 – he was dominant in Little League, dominant in HS, and didn’t really struggle at all until he got to the minors (by which time he could throw a forkball).

        I think the point is that as great as “everyman” stories are, Major is an example of another type of sports shounen than can work – where you marvel at the ability and will of a freakish talent, who has to go through struggles like anyone else. Goro was anything but mediocre, ever.

  8. My biggest worry for the series is that Kuroko, as a “shadow”, will not be able to truly stand out in this series. Though, as someone who can hide his presence to provide support, he’d be a very good PG. *Note, I’ve not read the manga or anything*

    P.s. I cant help but feel that my expectations of this show has been lowered due to my high standards for Slam Dunk.

  9. I’m not a big fan of basket itself, but Slam Dunk it’s one of my favourite series. Obviously this series is completely different, but I was looking forward to it hoping to enjoy another great sports anime. I love the first episode, can’t wait to see more! And Yuuki Ono is just great, I’ve heard him on Medaka Box’s Zenkichi few days ago, but on Taiga he pulls a rougher and different voice, but equally fitting. Just great!

  10. I’m not much into sports anime myself, except for Cross Game being one of my top 5 favorites, but this first episode got me hooked. There is nothing I can complain about. Thanks for blogging this and keep it up!

    Sinan Çevik
  11. Hey GE, you think this show can fill in Chihayafuru at least on the “sports” category? I’m really having Chihayafuru withdrawals and I’m willing to give this a shot if you recommend this (though I’m not into basketball).

    1. Those are like, Shaq-sized 22 shoes to fill – I’m not going to get my hopes up that high. Chihayafuru is also 50% josei along with 50% sports shounen, and I don’t get the sense that KnB is quite that diverse in its thematic structure. As long as it’s a very good basketball anime, I’ll be satisfied.

  12. To be honest this is more realistic than Slam Dunk, as a Japanese guy like Kuro isn’t that physically gifted for basketball but excellent in passing that makes him more important now he can be compared to Jeremy Lin except he can’t finish his plays which can be improved via Sakuragi Hanamichi like training.

  13. If you are reading chapter 80 then you might be wondering who the hell are the second year guys playing in Seirin. Meow man, and pun man. The characters are all undeveloped except of Kuroko, Kagami and the rest pf Miracle players.


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