Tuesday, June 1, 2021

REVIEW: Kuroko's Basketball, Season 2 (anime TV series)

Kuroko's Basketball is a high school sports anime series. I watched it on Netflix. If you haven't seen Season 1, I highly recommend you do so before reading my review.

This review contains things that could be considered spoilers.


Season 2 starts with a street ball tournament that introduces viewers to Tatsuya Himuro, Kagami's childhood friend and the person who got him started with playing basketball. Although they were very close friends, Himuro now sees Kagami as his rival and thinks they must abandon their friendship in order to play each other seriously.

Then the series moves on to the Winter Cup preliminaries, beginning with Seirin vs. Josei (no Generation of Miracles characters here, and I literally can't remember a thing about this match). After that, Seirin faces off against several other teams, including Kirisaki Dai'ichi (known for playing dirty), Shutoku (Midorima's team), To'o (Aomine's team), and Yosen (Murasakibara and Himuro's team).

The season also takes a break a few times for things like a flashback to Kiyoshi starting Seirin's basketball team, special training efforts, and a trip to a hot spring.

I enjoyed the first season, but during the second season this series started to lose a bit of its shine. It was all a little too dramatic and serious. I was overly aware of just how ridiculous it was that these supposed high schoolers had names for all their special moves and techniques. Like "Vice Grip." Dude, you're just grabbing the ball. Yes, you're grabbing it in mid-air, but still. And that whole "Right of Postponement" thing, which was such a magical-sounding name it felt like it could have come straight out of Naruto. (Both of these are Kiyoshi's abilities, so it feels like I'm picking on him, sorry - he's actually my favorite type of character, the "dependable older brother.")

It felt like this season was a lot more fanservice-y, too. More shippable character dynamics (Kagami and Himuro literally had matching rings), the hot springs episode in which Hyuga spent an awful lot of time walking around without a towel and Riko and Satsuki had boob rivalry moments, and Alexandra Garcia the child molester (I'm sorry, but her tendency towards grabbing high schoolers and kissing them was more off-putting than funny - do Japanese people see Americans as being overly physically affectionate and prone to inappropriate nudity?).

While Kuroko's new techniques were clever, if over-the-top, it felt like the series hit a wall where characters like Kagami and Aomine were concerned. It's frequently a problem that shonen anime characters are depicted as being so talented, right from the start, that there isn't really a way for them to truly get better, and Kuroko's Basketball is no exception. The only thing that could be done for already powerful characters like Kagami and Aomine was to introduce "the Zone" - a real-life thing that was depicted as though character who entered the Zone became basketball playing robots complete with electricity flashing from their eyes. Players in the Zone were unbeatable except against other players in the Zone, which was an idea that quickly became boring. I'm sorry, but I'd rather hear about new tricks and techniques rather than "player enters a magical state that makes them play perfectly for just as long as the story requires it."

Seirin's match against To'o was unbearably long, and Seirin's match against Yosen wasn't much better in that respect. I like a little bit of nail-biting suspense, but this dragged on so long and got so bad that I actually looked up spoilers so I could take the edge off a bit. 

If Netflix picks up Season 3, I'll watch it because I'm still interested in the characters and want to finally see Akashi in action (although I'm more than a little worried that he's going to be both scarily sadistic and stupidly powerful). That said, I think Season 2 killed my desire to own the series - these aren't the kind of matches I'd find enjoyable to rewatch.

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