Thursday, September 03, 2015

My Problem With Sports Manga/Anime Series

I was disappointed and underwhelmed of how the Kuroko No Basuke manga ended last year.  Still, last month, I decided to binge-watch the third and last season of the anime nonetheless.  Knowing how the story would end, I no longer have any expectations to be disappointed about, hence, I was just able to enjoy the story unfolding in anime medium.  Actually watching the basketball action in motion is immensely more exciting than just reading it on still manga panels – so that helped me have fun with the Kuroko no Basuke anime despite my discontentment with the story’s ending.

But this isn’t really an article about Kuroko no Basuke.  Watching it just reminded me of my problem with sports manga/anime series as a whole.  And that is, they don’t have a second season.  What I mean of “second season” is not on the anime series itself, obviously, but a fresh school year of tournaments for its featured high school sports team.

Usually, a sports manga/anime ends after the ultimate championship match.  What I would want to see is the story continuing for another year, on which the sports team has to defend their title with a new-look team, for the seniors have already graduated, the rookies have become upperclassmen (senpai), and there are new club members – rookies and/or transfer students.  It’s a fresh storyline, but with the same continuity.

In Kuroko No Basuke, it’s intriguing to see how Seirin would improve themselves so that they can repeat as Winter Cup champions and/or finally win the Inter High tournament.  It’s a given that their path ahead would be more difficult since Kuroko has already made the Generation of Miracles realize the proper way of playing basketball.  The ending implied that there’s already a shift in their basketball philosophy.  They would no longer arrogantly rely on their phenomenal individual capabilities alone, but would rely on teammates and embrace genuine basketball teamwork.  They would no longer refuse to practice, but would work harder, no longer satisfied with their already superior skills, since they are fueled with the desire to get back at Kuroko and Seirin.

In Slam Dunk…. well, many years have passed, and there’s still no anime adaptation yet of Shohoku’s Inter High matches (WHY????).  Anyway, I want the story to be continued after the events in the manga – how will Sakuragi and Rukawa’s sophomore year turn out to be.  Will Rukawa continue being a playmaker?  Will Sakuragi’s rapid rate of improvement allow him to finally surpass Rukawa?  Will Shohuku fill the void left by Akagi?  Will there be a new “super rookie” playing for Shohoku?  Will Shohoku finally beat Kainan to become the champion in their prefecture?  Will Shohoku become national champions?

Eyeshield 21 (pertaining to the manga since the anime was cut short) has a story continuation after Deimon won the championship – wherein an all-star team made up of players from Deimon and the various teams they had fought was assembled to compete in an international American football tournament – and a fascinating epilogue in which we see the characters in college.  I admit that the story ended in a terrific note.  But I would definitely prefer if the story actually continued further in that college setting.

I understand that focusing on just one “season” – a school year of competitions – can already tell a complete story.  And it would probably be satisfactory already to most fans.  But I’m not like most fans.   More than being a fan of the manga/anime, I’ve also become a die-hard fan of these fictional teams, invested on them as much as if they are real-life sports teams.  Rooting for sports teams is something done year in, year out – not just for a single season.  Hence, a single “season” – a single complete story – for a sports manga/anime series wouldn’t do.  These fictional sports teams require multiple “seasons”, multiple storylines, and sports manga/anime series should start providing these.

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