This is my review on the Kuroko No Basuke anime (also known as Kuroko's Basketball or The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays) originally based on the manga written by Tadatoshi Fujimaki for Weekly Shōnen Jump, animated by Production I.G. This is a SPOILER-FREE review. The images shown in this review are screenshots of the Kuroko V Slam Dunk mod for NBA 2K14 which can be found here.
Kuroko No Basuke Anime
Kuroko No Basuke is one of the top two basketball-related anime along with Slam Dunk. The manga started in 2008 and ended in 2014, with the anime's run back in 2012 until it ended this year, 2015. Kuroko No Basuke is commonly attributed to being the best successor to Slam Dunk in many ways while many Slam Dunk purists do not believe so. So let's see, how does Kuroko No Basuke actually fare against Slam Dunk? I personally watched the anime in English Sub (Japanese Audio, English Subtitles).Premise & Concept
Kuroko No Basuke's (translated in English as "The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays" or "Kuroko's Basketball") premise centers around the relationship of the main character, Tatsuya Kuroko, who belongs to a team of greatly talented (dare I say, superpowered) individuals who split up after middle school (Junior High), and his relationship with these characters as he finds a new teammate (Kagami) with the potential to be on the same level as these talented individuals. The talented members of the team were known as the "Generation of Miracles" as they were all fortunately born in the same year. The story deals with Kuroko and Kagami's rivalry with the members of the Generation of Miracles which were all teammates before, that have taken their talents to different teams in the present.
Kuroko believes that teamwork is the key to victory, not individual prowess and talent. The members of the Generation of Miracles focus solely on their individual strengths to win basketball games, not relying on teamwork. It deals about their love for basketball, the importance of their relationships with their teammates, as well as their growing competitive relationships with their opponents.Execution & Delivery
Common First Impression: "An anime about basketball with special abilities? Not my cup of tea."
At first, I personally felt that the abilities were corny and unnecessary for a story about basketball. A guy could copy your move and do it better than you, one guy could shoot from anywhere, another guy is just simply unstoppable, etc. Like, how could you defeat them? But that's exactly the point of the anime. With all of these crazy abilities, you want to know how they can be vulnerable and the answer lies within the anime's premise, which is teamwork. Teamwork is the weakness of great individual talent when this talent does not care for the other members of their team. The basketball game storylines are great and normally last around 3 to 4 episodes per game while the non-basketball game episodes have enough training and backstory to keep it interesting.Art Style, Music & Voice Acting
The art style is nothing short of amazing. There is a common mix of 2D and 3D during the basketball matches and the studio tries its best to copy the manga per shot. The second season is the best in terms of animation and while all of the seasons have great music, I can personally say that the soundtrack to the third season is actually the best of all of them. The voice acting is incredible with each voice fitting each personality. Numerous popular Japanese voice actors from other anime give life to the characters from Kuroko No Basuke. A lot of the opening songs are great as well, probably all of them except for the second one in the first season are excellent.Similarities with Slam Dunk & Comparison
The show does have very many similarities with Slam Dunk you can almost say that it pays homage to it. However, the story itself is different with different morals incorporated into each season. The show has a similar (if not identical) flow to it as does Slam Dunk. Both protagonist teams start with a practice match between the first years and the team veterans, proceeded by a practice match against a (what would be) rival team, as well as the presence of the knockout round into the Final Four for the Interhigh Qualifiers. The Interhigh (Slam Dunk's popular tournament) is also present in Kuroko No Basuke, but there is more attention given to the Winter Cup in the second and third seasons.List of Similarities
- [Kuroko No Basuke & Slam Dunk] Run-And-Gun Protagonist Team (Shohoku & Seirin)
- [Kuroko No Basuke & Slam Dunk] Protagonist PF with High Jumping Ability (Kagami & Sakuragi)
- [Kuroko No Basuke] Shooter Captain & Returning Injury-Prone Big Man (Hyuga & Kiyoshi)
- [Slam Dunk] Returning Injury-Prone Shooter & Captain Big Man (Mitsui & Akagi)
- [Kuroko No Basuke] Defensive Team that plays Zone with three players over 200 cm (Yosen)
- [Slam Dunk] Defensive Team that plays Zone with four players over 190 cm (Shoyo)
- [Kuroko No Basuke & Slam Dunk] #1 Player in the Same District (Aomine in Tokyo & Maki in Kanagawa)
Kuroko No Basuke definitely is deserving of its spot as one of the top two basketball-related anime. Obviously, it surpasses Slam Dunk in animation, and equals it in music. Both stories are different in terms of feel and approach as Slam Dunk has a more serious tone with lots more drama compared to Kuroko No Basuke which has a good equal tone for comedy, drama and pure epicness during basketball matches. The humor is great and it'll make you laugh despite the audio being in english and is definitely a recommended anime if you are a fan of basketball, anime, and Slam Dunk.
- Unique Characters
- Interesting Lore
- Inspirational story
- Exciting basketball scenes & fluid animation
- Perfect season 2
- No romance getting in the way of the plot
- Lackluster season 1
- Season 3 not meeting expectations from season 2
- Too many similar outcomes in basketball matches
- No small-time romance (even as a side story)
Kuroko No Basuke was great, especially the second season. But the third season did not quite live up to the hype that Season 2 got me engaged in and is the only thing holding it back from receiving a perfect score. Overall, it was a great anime!
Don't forget to download Kuroko V Slam Dunk for NBA 2K14 on PC if you don't already have it! Also, Universal Portrait Project v3.0b has already been released which fixes the portrait for Kenjirō Sakamoto of Seihō High.Download Universal Portrait Project v3.0b Now