OP2:「RIMFIRE」 by GRANRODEO
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“It Looks Just Like Him”
Latter halves of most series are marked by a tonal change, and Kuroko no Basuke is no different as the “premiere” of its second half takes off with a big bang. It’s a pretty subtle change, as most of the elements that made the first half so light-hearted and satisfying are still there. But you can’t move forward without addressing the unresolved issues of the past, and it looks like the series is aiming to use Kuroko’s time with his Teiko teammates as a framework for some of its remaining episodes (this arc, at the very least). Personally, I take this as a good thing, as the Generation of Miracles have been an interesting bunch – they’ve only been defined as geniuses, and players that put “absolute victory” above everything else. There’s a good sense of what kind of characters some of them are by observing them in the present, but we’re still missing the nuances all of the members – Kise, Midorima, Kuroko, and Aomine – had as a team. There was a little glimpse into what the Teiko team was like, and it’s a lot different than what I expected – there are no fractures within the team, and the dynamic is rather fluid and well-balanced, so one can only wonder what happened. Clearly, this is a moment in time before the need to win took over, and it’s too bad since the eclectic bunch looked pretty happy playing basketball. I imagine Aomine was the one most changed by Kuroko leaving the team, as that smiling guy certainly isn’t here now. It speaks to the bond they had with each other as teammates, and how the deep-rooted disappointment or hurt from the incident affects Aomine’s playing style and behavior in the present; he was the closest to Kuroko – the “past Kagami”, so to speak – and it’s probably no stretch to say losing his shadow contributes to his alpha male, lone-wolf way of basketball today.
Aomine’s previous role as Kuroko’s “light” leads to an interesting question, though: is Kagami effectively a replacement? Of course, it’s not as simple as that, but it’s a question that begs answering, and it brings a lot of other issues to the table. For one, Kuroko’s attachment to his old teammates hasn’t really been something that’s been explored in-depth, and while I don’t doubt his loyalty to Seirin and Kagami, there’s some pretty strong evidence the past affects him more than he lets on. Teiko was his “true team”, and the juxtaposition of the past and present is making it look more and more like Kuroko is trying to relive his old team’s “glory days”. It certainly paints Kuroko in a new, complex light, which can only benefit his character. Kuroko is a strong character in his own right, but compared to some of the depths the other characters have been getting, he needed something to pull the audience’s attention towards him, and this conflict between the halcyon days and the present is a welcome way to drive his development.
Admittedly, while I love Kuroko no Basuke as it is – by no means a perfect show, but one with all the elements I want/need to keep me entertained – a thematic element deeper and more cohesive than “teamwork beats all!” or “let’s make X the best there is!” would’ve been appreciated. And I think I finally found that deeper theme I’ve been looking for: growing up. It’s not immediately evident, but at its heart, KuroBasu is every bit a coming-of-age story as it is a sports shounen. Instead of depicting the progress of five characters growing apart and learning how to cope with the transition into a new phase of their lives, the show portrays what happens after they’ve already gone separate ways, but never dealt with the resulting fallout. Considering KuroBasu dropped the audience in media res though, it’s difficult to see that more emotional aspect under all the sports shounen fare.
It’s certainly an interesting decision to make direction-wise, as the bonds Kuroko has formed up to now can’t be considered so simply anymore – now they have to be taken in context of the past, and all the things he had with Teiko and lost come into play in his desire to make Kagami the best basketball player in Japan. These new relationships aren’t exactly fake, but how much of it is blurred with the memories of the past? And who hasn’t wondered, “Why Kagami?” Well, the answer was finally given this episode, and it’s a bittersweet one. It’s no mistake why the camaraderie between Aomine and Kuroko feels so familiar, and why the old Aomine seems like a blue-haired, darker-skinned version of Kagami (red and blue are also visually opposing!) – humans are creatures of habit, and old habits die hard.
- So much symbolism. I think it stopped being subtle by the end card.
- Also – what the heck Production I.G.? Lazing out with the OP animation?
- Lots of first world problems for this episode. That dog did not help.
- Any guesses on where Kagami lived in the States?
ED2:「カタルリズム」 (Kataru Rizumu) by OLDCODEX
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