Kuroko no Basuke – not quite Slam Dunk Beta 2.0.

I’m not a basketball person.

I attended my first NBA game over 10 years ago. It was a match between Miami Heat and the Minnesota Timberwolves. I caught a glimpse of Shaquille O’Neal from the corner of the highest seats in the stadium. Thanks to him, I now know what a 2-metre giant looks like.

The rest of the game, unfortunately, was paltry. I didn’t understand the game, nor did I get to see many three-point shoots, alley-oops, or slam dunks.

Fast forward to 2015, when I was asked to check the translation for Kuroko no Basuke. I’d done it for Haikyuu!! last year, so I suppose the editor thought it would be good for me to continue along the sports genre.

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This would be Kuroko’s third season. I’d heard of the show and I’ve seen its protagonist, Kuroko Tetsuya, in several magazines. Not again, I thought. I’d already seen the basketball craze Slam Dunk caused in the 90’s. And it was unrealistic. I wasn’t sure how this spawn of a series would work.

I hate to admit it, but 19 episodes in, I am starting to like this show, but not for the reasons I expect.

It’s not about the game.

Slam Dunk was boring for me because of its emphasis on the basketball game itself. I liked Kuroko because it wasn’t always about winning. Tetsuya’s flashbacks to his days with the Generation of Miracles in Teiko Middle School proved this.

It’s getting good at the game without losing who you are.

I liked Tetsuya because his calm personality polite demeanor was the antithesis of what a typical sports player would be. He’s not playing to be the star, but proves that being the team’s armorbearer is just as important.

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The disbanding of the Generation of Miracles was not a surprise. Several members had grown arrogant of their skill, obliterating any competition that was left, leaving many to abandon the game altogether. Tetsuya understood the value of keeping the players’ mental welfare in check. There’s a line to draw between playing to win, playing for collateral damage, and playing because you really, really like the game and mean no evil to anyone. Hopefully they’ve had their share of humble pie when the disbanded group lost with their new teams during the Winter Cup.

Glory to the underdogs.

The popular guy doesn’t always win. Every once in a while, the likes of Furihata Kouki takes his place with the major league.

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Bravery is not quite the word to associate with Furihata. He knows he doesn’t stand out as a strong player, but he wants to continue playing with his team, because he believed that even a person like him would be useful. And his persistence, dedication and courage to face giants pay off. He proves that even chihuahuas can nip at the heels of lions.

Will I go out of my way to watch Kuroko? Perhaps not. The episodes with full gameplays continue to bore me to death. But it’s nice to uncover little golden nuggets once in every while.

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