Friday, September 22, 2017

'Kuroko’s Basketball the Movie: Last Game' Delivers Highly Pleasing Basketball Action

Kuroko’s Basketball the Movie: Last Game is an anime film adaptation of Kuroko’s Basketball: Extra Game, a mini-series sequel to the original manga series.  It follows the duo of Tetsuya Kuroko and Taiga Kagami teaming up with the Generation of Miracles to form the basketball team Vorpal Swords and challenge Jabberwock, a team of American streetballers with NBA-level skills, after they denigrated Japanese basketballers.  The plot is basically a beat-for-beat – at times, even shot-for-shot and dialogue-for-dialogue – translation of the source material, save for the prologue and epilogue parts that center on Kagami (something that actually explains the change from “extra game” to “last game”).

When I finished reading Extra Game early last year, I couldn’t wait to watch the eventual OAV adaptation.  Because the thing about Kurono no Basket is that it’s more exciting in anime form than in manga form, and there were several moments in Extra Game which I thought would be more impactful when unfolding in animation.  To my surprise, not only did the anime adaptation only take one year to happen, but it was actually made for theatrical release.
The improvement of the animation for being a theatrical movie isn’t that significant compared to if it had been an OAV production.  Nonetheless, it’s appreciated.  There’s still a cinematic edge to it, subtle it may be, which gives more energy to the basketball match.

An interesting thing about the story is that it gives the Generation of Miracles a real challenge.  For Kuroko no Basket’s entire run, they have been depicted as individually invincible – with only Taiga coming to really rival them – and it’s cool to see them be vulnerable, struggle, and work hard for a change.  However, though he had his moments, I felt Akashi was a bit underused.

In addition, the story also shows how a super-team made up of a reunited Teikō basketball team, plus Kagami, would fare with their newfound maturity and unselfishness.  And it was glorious, as they display gratifying camaraderie, good-natured bantering, and on-court chemistry.
Kuroko’s Basketball the Movie: Last Game turns out being exactly what I was expecting, provided I had read the manga.  But even in terms of overall quality, it’s what I thought it would be: not necessarily epic, but highly pleasing, over-the-top, kickass basketball action.  All in all, I think it has enough to even entertain non-fans, but only to those who have been with the manga/anime right from the start will it truly resonate with.

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