Friday, May 22, 2015

Summer Viewing: Kuroko vs. Akashi

When anime first absorbed my attention, I started to neglect reading. I see why. Balancing multiple hobbies is like balancing multiple classes. When you throw family and work into the mix (two elements I did not have to balance during the school year), it's even more difficult. The past week slipped by before I realized it... and no, I haven't watched the next episode of Free! Eternal Summer yet. Though my attitude has improved a bit, and I'm sheepish about my disdain. I promise to be nicer whenever I get around to watching it.

So what did I watch in the past week? Kuroko's Basketball 3Baby Steps 2, and—because of all the fanart on Tumblr—the first episode of K (aka K Project).

I was several episodes behind on Kuroko's Basketball, so I caught up this past weekend. As much as I love this show, I often forget how excited it makes me. When I finally do a mini marathon to catch up, there's a lot of squealing and giggling involved. This time, I was inspired enough to take notes, so I'll focus on Kuroko's Basketball this week. There are spoilers, so consider yourself warned.

After Kuroko finishes telling the team about his experience playing under Akashi
at Teiko Middle School, they are eager to help him defeat his old captain (ep 16).

Episode 16 (66): Akashi speaks about the Generation of Miracles' drive to compete and rise to victory. He says this is why they all went to different high schools: "Someone must come out ahead, to prove that we're driven to eliminate all others. Not by reason, but by instinct."

In Akashi's twisted view, people are defined by power. It's only natural for the powerful to fight for the top position, crushing and ruling over the competition. He does not consider innate human dignity. Instead, he tends to his own dignity, basing it on athletic prowess and charisma (aka alpha dragon aura). And he expects other members of the Generation of Miracles to act similarly: fight ruthlessly, even against former friends, until someone comes to the top.

Also, in this episode, we found out why Kuroko always wears those wristbands. I can't remember his friend's name, so I won't go into it right now.

Episode 17 (67): This episode begins with Hyuuga cutting Riko's hair in his dad's barbershop. This whole scene makes me really, really happy—until the end. He comes really close to asking her out... and then she sneezes. Poor Hyuuga.

Anyway, the game against Rakuzan (Akashi's team) starts in this episode. I wrote down Akashi and Kuroko's brief conversation before the game.

"I am absolute. And Rakuzan always wins. Our basketball is absolute," says Akashi. Then he tells Kuroko, "Show me your basketball."

Kuroko responds, "No. I won't be showing you my basketball. It's our basketball."

Wow. First of all, Akashi's god complex is showing again. Sure, he trusts in his team. But he implies that their basketball is only "absolute" because he is absolute. Kuroko makes no such claims. He values, respects, and trusts his teammates. He knows their strengths and weaknesses, but he does not measure their worth by them. He lets neither glory not competition cloud his relationship with them. He doesn't put himself above any of them, even those who stay on the bench. When he says "it's our basketball," he means it it ways Akashi can't understand yet.

Episode 18 (68): Kuroko's gained too many new skills. When he couldn't do anything but pass, it was easy for him to slip under the radar and use his Misdirection. But now, people know and love him. They recognizes his impressive shooting and dribbling skills, etc.

Akashi scolds him: "By learning how to shine half-heartedly, you can no longer become the shadow." Ouch. After a bit, Riko has to pull him off the court.

Meanwhile, Akashi has another trick up his sleeve: Mayuzumi, aka Kuroko 2.0.

When Akashi started at Rakuzan, Mayuzumi wasn't even close to being a starter. In fact, he was in the equivalent of JV (junior varsity). And he was relatively content there. Akashi noticed his lack of presence, similar to Kuroko's. So he approached him, hoping to recruit him as a passing specialist. At first, Mayuzumi refused, saying, "I love myself. It would be boring to become a player specializing in passing the ball. I don't want to play in a game that badly. If I don't feel good, there's no meaning to playing basketball."

Akashi liked that answer. Why? Probably because it's the opposite of what Kuroko would say. Unlike Kuroko, Mayuzumi wouldn't have any pesky concerns about his teammates. Plus, Mayuzumi has skills Kuroko didn't when Akashi recruited him: he can even shoot like a normal player.

Izuiki (Serin's "Eagle Eye") versus Akashi (and his "Emperor Eye") in ep 19. Akashi
is actually shorter than him, but he's pretty scary.

Episode 19 (69): You can find much of my response to this episode in my post on Beneath the Tangles, "Annalyn's Corner: Chihuahuas Fighting a Lion."

I'm excited for tomorrow's (today's) new episode! I expect Seirin will starting turning the game around. I firmly believe they will win, even thought they're 25 points behind. It's only halfway through the game, after all.

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