OK, raise your hand if you’ve heard of “nanba walking”. OK, now put it down – I actually don’t want to hear how smart you are. I know there are 316,000 Google hits on this subject, but as much of a trivia geek and Japan-con as I am, it was a first for me. It’s definitely a real thing and it has nothing with touring the most exciting neighborhood in Osaka – as Kuroko no Basuke says, it’s all about moving the left arm in conjunction with the left leg, and the right with the right. Almost nobody in the world does it now, but some historians believe most Japanese walked this was as a matter of course – or at least walked with little arm swing – centuries ago. It’s a fascinating subject actually, and ties into all kinds of issues with traditional Japanese teachings fading out of style. These days nanba walking is largely the province of a few select martial arts disciplines and specialist societies.
Be that as it may, my initial question is this: if it’s that easy why doesn’t every sports team do it? In any case it’s one of the many weapons in the arsenal of Seihou High, the obstacle in Seirin’s path in the semifinals. They win with defense – an aggressive style that should, in theory, wear them out before halftime. They’re led by first-year defensive ace and world-class trash talker Tsugawa Tomoki (Furushima Kiyotaka), who’s assigned to cover Kagami. Their Captain is broad-chested giant Iwamura Tsutomu (Yoshikai Kiyohito) and their other third-year pillar is Ryuuhei Kasuga (Hayashi Yuuki). Compared to the Shuutoku Seihou isn’t flashy in the slightest – neither overly large nor offensively gifted, they win with their swarming attack defense and tenacity.
That seems to be working pretty well for Seihou as they plod out to a 14-0 lead over Seirin, but shounen manga being what it is, you have to figure that sooner or later Seirin will find a way to win this game, because Shuutoku is where the real drama is. At some point soon we’re going to see what the second-years on Seirin is capable of, because it doesn’t look as if Kagami is going to be able to dominate Tsugawa enough to win the game on his own. So far the strategy seems to be standing around watching Kagami try one-on-one moves against Tsugawa. If Aida were as good at strategy as she is at teasing and screaming at her players, she might have come up with something better by now – but the clock is ticking.
A couple of interesting asides here, the first being the brief flashback to the Generation of Miracles middle school days. We see Kise getting browbeaten by the coach for holding the ball too long, trying to break down Tsugawa’s stifling defense. Also interesting is that one of his
sempai teammates on the team was definitely played by Kamiya Hiroshi, and others by Suwabe Junichi and Suzumura Kunichi – though exactly where that player fits into the story remains to be seen – you don’t use a seiyuu of that caliber as an extra in a show like this, that’s for sure. Also interesting is that Kise seems to be taking a very strong rooting interest in Kuroko, to the point where he takes a bad horoscope result for Kuroko’s Aquarius as if it were about himself. As the “least” of the GoM, perhaps Kise sees he and Kuroko as having a joint interest in proving themselves – I wonder if that pickup game might not have been the last time we’ll see the two of them playing together.