This year, the basketball-themed Kuroko No Basket could be the manga and anime that I am excited about the most. Compared to Slam Dunk – which is more realistic – Kuroko No Basket is more ludicrous and fantastic. It is not yet as insanely over-the-top as Eyeshield 21, but it’s still as unbelievable and absurd as Prince of Tennis. It’s awesome.
The recent Chapter 236 of the manga could be the most pivotal point of the series. The potential for awesomeness is near-bursting that it compels me to write about it. It made me really excited on what would come next after this development.
So the titular character, Tetsuya Kuroko, is not really a very skillful player. In fact, he’s so unexceptional that people always fail to notice him. But he uses his lack of presence to his advantage – the skill of misdirection. Once opponents fail to take notice of his presence on the court, Kuroko is free to properly position himself to set imperceptible passes to his teammates or make steals. Hence, he changes or dictates the flow of the game to the advantage of his team. He’s a very interesting character (I even used him as a metaphor for a worship leader).
Therefore, the key for Kuroko’s success is for him to be ignored and be invisible. However, as the story progressed, Kuroko has evolved his game to be a better player. Before, he would merely deflect the ball towards teammates, since touching the ball for a long time would negate his misdirection techniques (for players pay the most attention towards the ball). But then, he developed a Vanishing Drive, allowing him to maintain his misdirection even with the ball on his hands. Before, he never does any scoring. But then, he developed a Phantom Shot, allowing him to shoot a shot that is as “invisible” (hence, unblockable) as his passes.
Because of his successes and his fancy techniques, he had eventually drawn the attention of people – players and audience alike – on him, making him lose what makes him special – his skill of misdirection. Without it, lacking other basketball skills, he would be incapable of helping his team. This was unbeknownst to him until it was too late.
What is the next step for Kuroko? What will he do now?
I like to think that it is now impossible for him to regain his “misdirection” technique. It defeats the purpose of the events of chapter 236 if he still does eventually. He is now a celebrity. Everybody knows he has significantly helped his team to reach the finals.
I think the better outcome is this: this stressful development will force Kuroko to access an untapped basketball brilliance in his subconscious. Having the Generation of Miracles as teammates for years could have had an unconscious effect on him. He could have unconsciously developed a Generation of Miracles-level of basketball genius. He enters the “zone”. That would be great.
Everything about the story is leading to this. This championship match they are having has been declared as the “final battle”, so this could be the last story arc. Hence, this should be where Kuroko as a basketball player culminates. Up to this point, Kuroko’s basketball position has been undefined. This game can finally dictate and determine his true position. He can emerge as a brilliant playmaking point guard or point forward, staying true to his “pass-first” personality.
Or he can have a “reverse Rukawa” moment. In the “final battle” in Slam Dunk, Rukawa – who has always been focused on scoring – realizing he can’t beat the Sawakita (the opposing team’s ace) with his usual one-on-one game, decided to do passes instead of scoring. The opposite think can happen to Kuroko, who has always been making passes; he will evolve into an unstoppable scorer instead.