I’ll be honest – I could have blogged KnB yesterday, but I really didn’t want to think about basketball after seeing Derrick Rose go down with an ACL tear during the meaningless final minutes of the Bulls playoff opener against the 76ers. That depressed me on so many levels, because he’s one of the most exciting players in basketball and the playoffs are lessened by his departure. But especially because now we’ll never see if the Bulls’ team-first attitude and character could break through against Miami’s superstar-driven one-on-one approach. With Rose out, the Heat are an overwhelming favorite to cruise through the East to the NBA finals.
But a blogger must soldier on, and fortunately KnB delivered probably its snappiest and most entertaining episode yet. The basketball is still classic “Jump” fantasy, with dunks everywhere, insert songs and dramatic pauses in the action for characters to explain exactly what they’re doing (I guess the 5-second rule isn’t in effect here) but the action was fast and furious, and as well-animated as you’d expect from the team at I.G.. And we got to meet the rest of of the Seirin starters properly at last – calm cool and witty Izuki Shun (Nojima Hirofumi), the silent Mitobe Rinnosuke (???) and “jack of all trades, master of none (Taichi? Is that you?) Koganei Shinji (Eguchi Takuya). Not only that, but Captain Junpei finally makes his presence felt, proving himself a terrific outside shooter and a bulldog in the clutch.
All of this unsung heroism is made necessary when Kuroko is laid out by a blow to the head from Kise after Seirin’s clever “one-two” defense on him allows Kuroko to steal the ball. An interesting question – was that truly inadvertent, or did Kise clock Kuroko on purpose? It seemed accidental but Kise was obviously getting pretty pissed off at the time it happened – I suppose we’ll never know for sure. In any case, with Kuroko groggy and bleeding, the others have to carry the team for the second and third quarters while he recovers behind the bench. Between Junpei’s marksmanship and Kagami’s defense on Kise they manage to keep it close until Kuroko can rouse himself for the final six minutes, leading to a dramatic (and highly improbable) finish.
There’s another interesting couple of developments here, though. It appears (though I’m not 100% sure) that “copycat” Kise has figured out Kuroko’s style, though too late to help win this game. And then there’s the arrival of Ono Daisuke (this series has more Onos than Yoko’s family reunion) on the scene as Midorima Shintarou. He’s another member of the Generation of Miracles, a fan of horoscopes, and he’s tapped one of his new teammates to transport him to the practice match of his old teammates via bicycle rickshaw (in one of those nice touches that makes I.G. stand out, they bring back Sakai Noa – Kouki from Usagi Drop – to provide the voice of the little boy gawking at the sight). Whether he arrived in time to see the end of the match I don’t know, but I’m sure he’ll be playing a major role, possibly as the next antagonist for Seirin.
But more importantly – what the heck is up with that end card??