「2つ言っておくぜ」 (Futatsu Itteokuze)
“Let Me Tell You Two Things”

What’s this – Dad showing up on Mother’s Day?

I know I’ve said this already, but Koruko no Basuke definitely has a weird sensibility to it. How else to explain dedicating the entire first half of the episode to the quest for “Iberian Pork Sandwich” complete with caviar and truffles – only available on the 27th of the month and selling for 2,800 yen. What kind of high schoolers can afford to pay $35 for a glorified ham sandwich? Coach Aida certainly can come up with the weird hazing rituals for the first years, that’s for sure.

The thing is though, I’m glad that KnB has that random streak to it, because it’s the part of the show I find most interesting so far. To be honest I haven’t really bonded with any of the characters yet, and the basketball sequences haven’t totally blown me away. Of the sports series airing this season the best is Ginga e Kickoff, frankly – though because that’s a show about 6th-graders virtually no one in the English-language fandom is paying any attention – because its characters have established themselves as interesting and likable (especially the MC) and the soccer action is surprisingly real. Here, things still feel embryonic to me – as if there’s more to these people and their story that just isn’t breaking through the surface. Yet “Kuroko” undeniably makes me laugh when it goes into strange places like it did in the cafeteria scene, with Kagami’s crowd-surfing and random exclamations of “This is Japan lunch rush!” in credible Engrish. I’m not sure what it had to do with anything else but that scene did score comedically – and it finished the right way, with Kuroko using his Zen ninja skills to score pork where brute force had failed.

Seirin’s first match in the inter-highs continues to walk the line of surrealism, as they’re matched up with Shinkyo High – a team that seems an ordinary enough mid-table opponent at first, but reveals itself to be a tough squad thanks to the presence of Papa Mbaya Siki (Kimura Subaru) – a ringer of an exchange-student from Senegal (indeed a hotbed of basketball talent). After a hilariously inappropriate session of mispronouncing Papa’s name Aida sensibly turns to Kuroko for a nickname – and he comes up with “Dad” naturally enough. And Dad’s a big guy, about 6’7” with long arms, presenting some unique challenges even for Kagami.

Apparently the rules for Japanese HS basketball allow for two foreign-born players per team, so Shinkyo is doing nothing illegal here. Even so I was a little uncomfortable with the way the situation was portrayed – not so much the fact that Dad speaks in broken Japanese (quite natural for a gaijin, I would think) but with the attitude of his Captain, which is that Shinkyo has effectively found a way to legally cheat, and all they have to do is toss the ball to Dad and let him score. I don’t like the notion that just because a team has a gaijin player they’re somehow lazy and arrogant – it feels like a bit of a straw man here, too easy, and a little beneath the dignity of what’s been a fairly nuanced series so far. Hopefully we’ll see there’s more to both Dad and Shinkyo next week – we certainly got an interesting shot in the end credits.

The crucial missing piece for me is still some sort of charisma from Kuroko. He has his flashes – when he calmly says “Honestly, I’m beginning to get a little irritated” after Dad mistakes him for a lost child and picks him up, it feels like a blistering rampage, and he’s certainly capable of deadpan humor. I desperately want to like him – he’s unusual, and played by a terrific and criminally underused seiyuu – but Kuroko is emblematic of that feeling of incompleteness I get from the series in general. Kuroko is obviously a mysterious person with some depth, but as long as remains this impassive with so little insight given into his background, I just can’t find him all that interesting. I hope that begins to change in upcoming episodes.




  1. I also love the random elements of the show as I find them enjoyable to watch. I however did not see the situation with Shinkyo being arrogant and lazy by having a foreign player as you did. I saw it as more of having a very talented player on the team and solely relying on that person to win. This is what I think irritated Kuroko the most as he was previously on a team of talented players who played not as a team but individually. Anyways, I can’t wait for the epic block by Kagami and the strategy of coach Aida when it comes to Kuroko.

  2. Kuroko is obviously a mysterious person with some depth, but as long as remains this impassive with so little insight given into his background, I just can’t find him all that interesting.

    Not that I don’t get what you’re saying(then again, maybe I don’t =03) but I think he’s doing exactly what his char portrays as. He is a shadow. He is not meant to be expounded upon. He’s the main char, but that very char lines himself in the background. That’s not to say ‘he doesn’t have one’ or ‘it won’t be expounded upon’, but that it is not in his nature to put himself out there to that extent.

    1. Kuroko is not that deep really. It’s a shounen series, so MCs are more about their actions than their philosophies. They usually just blow off antagonist taunting with cool one liners.

      Kuroko’s personality is about as deep as a puppy’s…er, spoilers. =P

  3. Like the previews episodes this episode is very loyal to the manga, and the part where the Seirin freshmen are trying to buy the sandwich is also in the manga and it’s Riko (the coach) way of training them to level up their stamina.

    For me those random scenes are like ice breaker, it’s good to watch a series where some random scenes are inserted to entertain the audience and Kuroko no Basuke is one of those who gives a very entertaining extra’s/random scenes.

    True that Kuroko is not your typical MC but for me he is fine that way. It’s always good to have an extra ordinary MC, someone who can make you stare at the screen of your TV or Computer so that you won’t miss his reaction/facial expression which is very rear to be shown.

  4. This is the first ‘main’ role I’ve heard of both Kuroko’s and Kagami’s seiyuus, and I’m really enjoying them. Both Onos compliment eachother, and I’ll be looking for them in the future. And, as always, I’m enjoying Yoshimasa Hosoya. 🙂

  5. I am huge fan of Slam Dunk, so I thought I would give this one a shot. Definitely a different feel to SD but good none the less. One area I thought was lacking is the music, needs more up beat and lively tracks during all the action.

  6. If I ain’t mistaken, Kagami actually says “This is Japanese lunch time rush” (Which got me both times LOL)…

    Too bad though, them spoiling Kagami actually blocking the 2m tall guy…

  7. “Apparently the rules for Japanese HS basketball allow for two foreign-born players per team…”

    Wow, thats a little extreme don’t you think? Thank god Canada doesn’t won’t exclude you from school events because you were born in another nation

  8. While the portrayal of gaijin and racial stereotypes is certainly of concern, I don’t think it warrants controversial attention.

    What’s important is understanding how the players, students and schools perceive the events.

    First is that Shinkyo is self aware of themselves enough that they realized they were on the lower end of the middle tier of basketball teams. To make up for this they “called” on foreign exchange students to bring in more strength. They do this with scholarships, helping visas, etc.

    The point here is that they didn’t believe they could attract more talent with their own strength nor could they compete through hard work and self improvement, so they essentially buy more talent instead of trying, a shortcut of sorts.

    This is NOT cheating or even unfair in any technical sense, but it does go against the spirit of the game because of how they go about it. They don’t care about self progress or improving the team attitude and trust in one another. This is clear in how they talk to Seirin and how they play together. They’re looking for the easiest, efficient win, which isn’t inherently wrong but Seirin definitely looks down on them for it.

    I would imagine that the Shinkyo players also feel its unfair but accept it for what it is and roll with it.

    Plus it was made very clear that when things start to fall apart and easy pickings become something much harder, many will blame Otou-san, because that’s the easiest way to rationalize it.

    The point being, the way Shinkyo goes about their game with Papa would be looked down on upon by many even if Papa wasn’t a black man from Senegal and were instead some insanely huge Japanese dude from some rural town who was paid to come instead of joining on his own.


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