Get Involved

I’m watching Kuroko’s Basketball / Kuroko no Basket on VRV / Crunchyroll. I have a Haikyuu void and wanted to watch a sports anime that was uplifting. I attempted to watch Battery on Amazon Prime, but then I started getting the vibe that was not going the direction I was hoping. I may give it another chance down the road. So far Kuroko’s Basketball is exactly what I was looking for.

Tetsuya Kuroko, one of the esteemed members of the Generation of Miracles (a group of elite players from Teiko Junior High) is now attending Seirin High. He was on a team that always won, but he’s looking for something more. In this aspect, he reminds me of Haiji Kiyose from Run with the Wind / Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru. Kiyose was looking for the an answer essentially to the question, “what is running?” I think Kuroko is looking for what is basketball. In episode five, of season one, Kuroko has a conversation with his former teammate, who was also a member of the Generation of Miracles, Ryouta Kise. Kuroko thinks there’s more to basketball than just winning, and he wants to find out what that is.

Kise really wanted Kuroko to attend the same high school as him, so they could continue playing together. Kise views Kuroko as a friend and enjoys being around him, and sees him as a valuable teammate. So he was disappointed that Kuroko rejected him. It reminded me of Haikyuu’s Ushijima telling Oikawa, “you should’ve come to Shiratorizawa” (with slightly less intensity).

He must have abs of steel with balance like that.

At Seirin High School, Kuroko meets an impressive player named Taiga Kagami. Together, they’re a fearsome duo on the basketball court. Kuroko, with his seemingly lack of presence, and Kagami with his impressive build and abilities, help Seirin win their first practice match against Kaijou High (Kise’s school). Initially people are dismissive of Kuroko, until they see him in action. He is the linchpin for Seirin’s basketball team. His stealthy maneuvers, and misdirection, contribute to the effectiveness of their plays.

One phenomenal skill Kuroko has is being aware of his surroundings and reading people and their intentions. It might seem trivial, because in sports often athleticism prevails, but it is vital. It helps him play as an instrumental member of the Seirin team (especially since he is considered weak in other aspects). This ability is also helpful in day-to-day life. Being aware of his surroundings, means he noticed what was happening behind him on the basketball court, and ran over to help before Kise and Kagami even noticed. Demonstrating his strength of character and integrity, Kuroko ran over to intervene on behalf of the bullied students without hesitation.

It’s one thing to notice an injustice, but it takes a certain level of strength, character, and integrity to stand up against it (especially if you’re alone). The students didn’t ask for his help, but I’m sure they appreciated Kuroko’s intervention. In real life, cases of bullies and injustice, may call for action that isn’t direct. But sometimes direct is the right approach.

I’m glad there are still guys like that these days, especially in real life. We need them more now than ever.

Just in time, Kagami and Kise show up to help. Despite being opponents during the practice game, Kise and Kagami join forces to support Kuroko when he stands up to the bullies. The trio take on the entire group of bullies, and emerge victorious. The students are in awe.

After their stand against the bullies, Kagami lectures Kuroko about being aware of the consequences of one’s actions and safety. Kuroko’s response provokes Kagami’s ire, but Kise chuckles and commends Kuroko for being amazing. I have to agree with him. Not a lot of people would get involved to help others, especially strangers, but Kuroko did without hesitation.

Seeing how happy Kise is after their brief game against the bullies, shows how much he enjoys playing with Kuroko. Plus he admires the strength of character he has, and who Kuroko is as a person.

I’m enjoying Kuroko’s Basketball / Kuroko no Basket. Hopefully the rest of the series will be just as enjoyable. Give it a shot and see see what you think.

Weaklings Must Call In Sick (The Nerve!)

I’ve tried a couple times to watch Kimi ni Todoke, but the secondhand embarrassment was tangible and too real, too painful, and I never made it past the first fifteen minutes of the very first episode. So much cringing. However, Right Stuf had a promo, and seeing their ad made me want to give it another try. And I’m glad I did. I’m watching on Hulu and VRV/Crunchyroll.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Sawako Kuronuma (nickname: Sadako), is enjoying her high school life. Her character design reminds me of Sunako Nakahara from The Wallflower / Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. Kuronuma’s fateful run in with Shouta Kazehaya, leading to their friendship and his positive influence in her life, energized her to take chances to interact more with her classmates and peers. He supports and encourages her to be herself. The scene on the stairs in the third episode, when they express their shared appreciation for each other’s positive influence, was touching. In real life, it’s not as easy being unfiltered with others, or sharing what we admire and appreciate about them. I feel comfortable expressing it, but it can be a challenge receiving it. Is one way easier or harder for you?

Ayane Yano, Chizuru Yoshida, and Ryu Sanada are in Kuronuma’s friend circle too. They, and Kazehaya, have all stood up for Kuronuma. She was the subject of bullying (especially the behind the scenes type of bullying girls are notorious for, if you’ve seen Mean Girls, or are a girl yourself, you’ve likely seen this behavior). I’m only on episode eight of the first season, but some of the ways they’ve stood up for her include; Kazehaya standing up to the class when they make rude comments about Kuronuma from the night of the Test of Courage, when he says aloud for the bullies to hear that he detests hateful gossip, when Yano, Yoshida, and Kazehaya move their seats next to Kuronuma when others avoided her (Sanada I suspect just wanted the window seat but he didn’t avoid her like the others), the girls stood up for her when she was cornered by the bullies in the ladies room, and when asked his thoughts on Kuronuma and the rumors, Sanada pointed out the unrealistic possibility of that being remotely true. Being a good friend to another person, means being a good friend to them even when they’re not around. Kuronuma’s close friends love and care for her, and they don’t give the opinions of others a second thought. Knowing all of the hurdles she’s overcome and how lonely she felt, especially with everyone calling her Sadako (from The Ring), it’s wonderful to see her finally happy. One other comment, about the bullying scene from the bathroom, sometimes intervention depends on a person’s comfort level. While Hirano and Endo didn’t feel physically, emotionally, or mentally capable of taking on the group of girl bullies, they did run to get help. Standing up for your friends can be expressed in various ways. Yes it might’ve been more helpful if they had directly intervened, but it makes me think of all the others who saw Kuronuma bullied over the years who did absolutely nothing. Seeing how Yoshida and Yano stood up for her, Kuronuma finally realizes they are friends, and have been friends all along.

I enjoy the moments when the friends are relaxing together and being themselves. Yano and Yoshida see the blossoming romance between Kazehaya and Kuronuma (even if Kuronuma herself is unaware). After intentionally making Kazehaya jealous (proving he liked Kuronuma), of course the girls can’t resist giving Kazehaya a hard time as he walks Kuronuma home.

Joking aside, Shouta Kazehaya truly is a gentlemen. He has integrity and is an authentic person. He is a leader without trying, he makes it look effortless. Everyone feels welcomed in his presence, and he “sees” those around him. He’s present. That smile puts everyone at ease. Do you know people like that in real life? I do. Their energy is positive and uplifting. They’re sincere in their words and actions. I aspire to be that way. I’m authentic, but I don’t know about uplifting and positive. Maybe one day.

This shoujo anime, Kimi Ni Todoke, has humor. Not as much as others I’ve watched in the past, but the parts that are funny make me laugh out loud. Try to overcome the hurdle of the horrible secondhand embarrassment that this show has so much of. I haven’t felt this much embarrassment since watching Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji. Here is a funny moment from episode eight of the first season. The class is discussing the upcoming Sports Festival with their teacher, Pin. I suspect if I was in their class, Pin would strongly encourage me to take a sick day (the nerve!).

Give the show a chance if you haven’t already. Or if you tried before, give it another opportunity? Maybe you will like it the third time, like I did. There are a lot of positive messages in this show. Perhaps there will be less drama and less secondhand embarrassment in the future episodes. I’m only on episode eight, but I’d prefer less cringing. Hoping everything works out for this group of friends!