The most important event of this episode was the first real action throw-down of the series (or perhaps Kagami actually using the slang “Dasai” for one of the few times I’ve heard in anime). But for me the most interesting moment was this little exchange between Kuroko and Kise, innocuous though it was, because it was really the first time I’ve seen Kuroko show any real emotional reaction in this series. His irritated “Could you please stop being so sarcastic?” was the most interesting line of dialogue in the first three episodes as far as I’m concerned.
So far, what’s got me in the “like” category for Kuroko no Basuke is this relative lack of character development. It seems to do the sports side of the equation pretty well, although there’s too much emphasis on dunks and not enough on shooting and defense. My favorite sports shounen are the ones that use the sports as a device to really get inside the characters, and while there’s plenty of time for that to happen here, the anime (faithfully to the manga) spends most of the early material on the basketball side of the story. I suspect that may change as we see the layers of impassiveness peeled away like an onion (Kagami is too transparent to be a likely candidate for lots of deep, development) and if Kise is the least arrogant of the Generation of Miracles, it seems very likely that the others will be the device to piss him off more.
In terms of the practice match, we have a pretty classic Shounen Jump setup. Kaijo Private High School is big and rich, complete with a fat coach (Yasumoto Hiroki) who’s astonished to find Seirin is coached by a schoolgirl. They haven’t even bothered to stop practicing on the main court, reasoning that the game will provide so little challenge that the guys who aren’t playing (that includes Kise) need to get their work in. Kagami puts an end to that pretty quickly by going all Darryl Dawkins on their beat-up side-court hoop, and the game is moved to the main floor – with Kise in the lineup this time. Kaijo’s captain is Kasamatsu Yukio (Souchiro Houshi – lots of big names in supporting roles here) who seems more than a little jealous of Kise’s status with the fans (especially the girls) and the game pretty quickly evolves into a one-on-one battle between Kagami and Kise on the physical side, with Kuroko using his misdirection to wreak havoc on the opposition. But the physical differences between the teams are obvious, especially to Aida, and Kuroko’s mystical ability to be invisible seems to slowly wear off as the opponent gets used to his tricks – and as his own body wears down.
It’s pretty easy to see where this is going – Kuroko is Kise’s potential Achilles heel, as he’s the only one whose “fragment” the master mimic can’t use his Adam Blade-type ability to copy, since he can’t see it. But Kuroko’s weaknesses are showing too, and it seems likely Kaijo will win out in the end – providing Seirin with a measuring stick for how far they have to go. What I want to see (aside from more focus on Kuroko as a person) is some breakouts from the rest of the Seirin team, either on or off the floor – thus far they’ve been basically extras, both as players and characters. With the quality of the cast assembled, I’m hopeful the next few weeks will give them a chance to show their stuff – and Ono Kenshin, too.