「やろーか」 (Yarou ka)
“Let’s Do It”
Momoi could make a grade-S stalker with all her intel skills… she really could. I’ve always been fascinated by use of strategies and tactics in sports since it seems like there’s an insane amount of variables involved in it – not only does one have to take into account their own players, but the players on the opposing team. And opponents are changing all the time, so each time there’s a new match, it’s almost like starting from scratch. It honestly takes a lot of dedication and effort to research each team to the extent Momoi does, and craft a counter against each and every possibility. The sheer comprehensiveness of her data is a pretty good indication of how seriously she takes the sport, and like Midorima and Kise say, it’s on par with – or perhaps even greater than – the players’ love for basketball. It’s a subtle characterization that works well in showing the audience rather than outright telling them. Simply stating “Momoi loves basketball” is just plain lazy – this is a show about basketball. Obviously, the audience watches the show expecting the characters to love it. It’s how the series goes about defining that passion that matters, and even the fact she’s managed a team since her middle school days goes a long way in illustrating her dedication to the sport without broadcasting it on the 11 o’clock news.
I’m also pretty surprised by how well her character has been handled; this also extends to Riko as well. Anyone who has watched anime enough can become jaded at how… lacking some of the female characters are, to the point where it becomes so easy just to replace their existence with something else, like silence. Another difficulty lies in the fact it’s hard to seem competent in a setting where most of the plot focuses on heavily male-oriented roles – most of the time the girls are there to serve a specific purpose. Of course, that’s not always the case, but that’s the general trend and I didn’t think much of Riko at first. But she actually has an integral role and although she doesn’t get as much screen time as Kuroko or Kagami, there’s never a sense Seirin would be the same without her. That’s how one determines the relevance/importance of a character – if the show was to kill her off right now, how would it affect the characters? The makings of a character are very often recognized by envisioning a scenario without them rather than with them since taking them out of the picture allows the viewers to see the aftermath, the effects of their absence. Impact on plot is not such a good method to gauge a character’s importance since it’s a pretty shallow indicator to begin with – obviously their absence will impact the story, but if that is the sole result, the character essentially becomes meaningless. It could have been anybody, and the end results would have been the same.
But you can’t do that with Riko – whether it’s emphasized or not, she does have her own place in KuroBasu and it’s one that can’t be replaced by anybody. It really comes through in this episode, and how great is it that it’s hotheaded Bakagami that gets to acknowledge her importance? It’s significant coming from him not because he’s a main character, but because he’s a newbie. Second-years like Hyuuga already know the effort she puts into the team, how indispensible and hard-working she is. First-years like Kagami and Kuroko simply haven’t had as much time to notice Riko’s dedication. Kuroko is probably well aware, but it’s better the acknowledgment come from Kagami since he’s the block-headed type that can often take these sorts of things for granted, putting his own desire to play above everything else. His honesty has a profound effect when it’s used though, and him giving Riko the “good job” she deserves was good and satisfying.
Momoi’s characterization is pretty intriguing on many levels as it’s fairly easy to go the wrong way with her character. “Intel gathering” can have many connotations, one of which is “spying”, an act that is easy to demonize her for. That combined with her carefree, overly-enthusiastic attitude towards Kuroko could and should have been a recipe for disaster. Oh, and she’s the childhood friend of one of the main characters? S-line body? Run her through the Mary-Sue litmus! So it’s surprising and pleasing to see KuroBasu take a different route. She’s portrayed as competent and I can buy the portrayal – her characterization comes off natural and there’s no forcedness to the way the show does it; it’s not trying to paint her in a certain light. It’s disconcerting and irritating when a series doesn’t have enough confidence in its characters to tack on one random trait after another in an attempt to make them more likeable – it just should not happen. KuroBasu‘s greatest strength has always been its ability to churn out complex characters – whether they’re likeable or not is a completely separate issue, as it should be. The audience’s reception to Momoi’s character – like everyone else on the cast – will be different for everybody, but their opinion will be formed on the portrayal of her character as it is rather than a caricature of tacked on traits.
As for the actual match, it’s on par with what KuroBasu has offered so far. Seirin doesn’t get an easy out just because Aomine’s not there, but I don’t think anyone expected them to get the lead so easily. Touou has some interesting characters on their team though, and their dynamic has to be the most complicated out of all of Seirin’s major opponents so far. They’re not quite as well-coordinated (read: nice to each other) as Kaijou, but they’re not completely murderous to one another. Imayoshi in particular give off Ichimaru Gin vibes, and there’s definitely more to him than meets the eye… or in his case, a slit.
I’ll leave off by saying Kise and Midorima should share some more screen time together – these two are pretty damn hilarious.
Terminology of the Day:
- Double clutch: Technique where an airborne player fakes and switches shooting hands and attempts to shoot from the opposite direction (Google)
- I don’t yet know if it’s significant, but I find it pretty interesting there’s no “golden duo” in Touou like there is in Kaijou (Kise and Kasamatsu) and Shuutoku (Midorima and Takao). I’ll refrain from taking that point too seriously since it often feels like I’m being a nerd and reading too much into this show
- This is the Japanese lunch time rush!
- End cards: providing hope for shippers since episode 1
- First world problems continue in Kuroko no Basuke: The Capping Edition
ED2.2: 「カタルリズム」 (Katarurizumu) by OLDCODEX