I should probably have my head examined for ever thinking about realism in a SJ sports series, I know. I guess I’m just too much of a basketball team not to notice stuff, though, and when I see a team that’s blown out a year earlier suddenly decide they can afford to bench their two best players for the second half and still beat the team that blew them out, I can’t help but laugh. Seriously – no one gets that much better through one year of high school, no matter how much they practice. I was going to find it a bit of a stretch to see Seirin beat Seiho even with Kagami and Kuroko playing the entire game, to be honest, but this…
All right, I’ve vented – so on to the rest of the episode. Perfectly good basketball stuff, and the upside of that preposterous “rest the first-years” plot twist is that it allows us to see what the second-years can really do. Hyuuga we’ve seen in action plenty, but the others – Izuki and Mitobe – have basically been NPCs to this point. But they have game – Mitobe is athletic and offensively versatile, sporting a deft hook shot and strong defensive skills. And Izuki is – in Kuroko’s absence especially – the playmaker and lynchpin of the offense. Yes, he’s more than bad puns – he’s a floor general with real court vision. As for the two second-years who step up when Kagami and Kuroko head to the bench – are at least competent. Koganei Shinji can shoot from anywhere – but given that he rarely connects, that seems of dubious value – and Tsuchida Satoshi is a good rebounder – especially handy when Shinji is clanking shots.
Of course if these guys are that good – good enough to beat a team like Seiho – why would they take such a back seat to two first-years, even ones as good as K & K? And how is that just because these guys are second-years they can go 40 minutes without worrying about being tired for Shutoku, while the first-years need to rest for an entire half? Details, details – the most interesting element for me will be seeing how Kuroko does on the court without Kagami to play off of. His return is necessitated by the concussion suffered by Koganei, and he’s packing a grudge to boot – Kagami’s vendetta against Seiho’s big-mouthed first-year Tsugawa. It’s a grudge-match in general, with the second-years hungry for revenge for the rubbing Seiho gave them the year before.
Look, we all know who’s going to win this game – Midorima awaits in the next round – so it’s just a matter of how we get there. With the entire episode dedicated to in-game action there isn’t a whole lot of time for character development beyond the usual SJ icy glare, thought we continue to see hints that Kuroko is capable of getting pretty riled up at being taken too lightly. It certainly didn’t please him that Tsugawa had forgotten him despite playing against him, and Tsugawa’s motor mouth (which I don’t think is really malicious – just tactless) seems to be doing a good job motivating the entire Seirin side. Is Kuroko so pissed off that we might actually see him take a shot?