Kuroko’s Basketball, known in Japan as Kuroko no Basuke, is a Japanese sports manga series written and illustrated by Tadatoshi Fujimaki. The English rendering The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays also appears in the artwork of the Japanese version. It was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from December 2008 to September 2014, with the individual chapters collected into 30 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. It tells the story of a high school basketball team trying to make it to the national tournament.
By April 2014, Kuroko’s Basketball had 27 million copies in circulation. It was adapted into an anime television series by Production I.G that began airing in 2012, with a second season that began airing in October 2013 and a third season that began airing in January 2015. A sequel manga by Fujimaki titled Kuroko’s Basketball: Extra Game began serialization in Jump Next! on December 29, 2014. Viz Media has licensed the manga for publication in North America. An anime film adaptation of the Kuroko’s Basketball: Extra Game manga premiered in Japan on March 18, 2017. In December 2015 a stage play adaptation was announced, set to open on April 2016, followed by more stage adaptations.
An anime adaptation based on the manga is produced by Production I.G. The series premiered on April 7, 2012 and ended on September 22, 2012. On April 5, 2012, Crunchyroll announced that they would simulcast the anime as part of their spring lineup of anime titles. As of September 22, 2012, the anime ended with a total of 25 episodes. The second season premiered on October 6, 2013 and ended on March 29, 2014, also with 25 episodes. The third season premiered on January 10, 2015 and ended on June 30, 2015, with a total of 25 episodes. Three compilation films that compiled the anime series’ Winter Cup arc opened in Japan in 2016. The first compilation film opened on September 3, 2016, titled Winter Cup Compilation ~Shadow and Light~, the second compilation film opened on October 8, 2016, titled Winter Cup Compilation ~Beyond the Tears~, and the third compilation film opened on December 3, 2016, titled Winter Cup Compilation ~Crossing the Door~.
An animated film adaptation was announced at the KuroBas Cup 2015 event on September 20, 2015. The film, titled Kuroko’s Basketball The Movie: Last Game, will adapt the Kuroko’s Basketball: Extra Game manga. It was released in Japanese theaters on March 18, 2017. The staff and cast from the previous seasons returned to reprise their roles in the film.
Seirin High’s basketball team was founded only the year before the manga; despite this setbacks and only including freshmen, the team made it all the way to the final league in that year’s Inter-High school tournament. This year, the team’s notable newcomers include Tetsuya Kuroko, the main character of the manga, as well as Taiga Kagami.
- Tetsuya Kuroko
- He is the “phantom” sixth man of the “Generation of Miracles”(Teiko Middle School’s basketball team). Kuroko is Seirin’s secret weapon. Although he was an essential member of his middle school basketball team, unlike his former teammates, Kuroko is largely unknown. This is because he is so small, frail, unnoticeable, distressingly slow, and easy to miss. However, he is greatly respected by everyone. Kuroko capitalizes in the skill of misdirection, using himself as a relay to redirect his teammates’ passes to another free player and make virtually unstoppable steals, getting the ball to and between his teammates faster than opponents can react, while at the same time remaining “invisible” to his opponents. His near-invisibility makes him highly susceptible to on-court injuries however, and is not effective indefinitely. If he is left in play too long, opponents grow used to his misdirection tactics; as such, he must be placed on the bench at varying points in any match to prevent this. He mostly plays the position of a small forward based on defensive matchups and substitution strategies, but in recent chapters of the manga his position is listed as a questionmark. This is because Kuroko is difficult to place in one of the five basketball positions, his role in the team applies to none of those, but mostly as a pass-first point guard based on size and passing abilities but his dribbling and playcalling ability is not as advanced or polished as an average point guard. As revealed by Aomine and later in the Teiko arc, Akashi was the one who taught Kuroko his playing style. Also, his misdirection is inspired from the book “Techniques in Guiding Lines of Sight” and developed it due to his sharp observation skills. Because he has learned new skills like the “Phantom Shot” and the “Vanishing Drive”, his lack of presence wears out, because these skills require to hold the ball and the crowd turns their attention on the one who holds it. This the reason why Akashi didn’t teach him how to develop his basketball skills. During the second season of the anime series and the eleventh volume of the manga, he developed a new technique, called the “Vanishing Drive”. Midorima explains the mechanics of the skill during Seirin’s second match against Touou; the move itself is basically a cross-diagonal move (a duck-in) to where the opponent’s eye field can’t see. Kuroko bends over in a specific angle at drives following a specific route, that the opponent’s eyes can’t follow. Kazuya Hara of Kirisaki Dai Ichi has speculated that Kuroko uses blinking to bypass the defense, but this has been proven wrong. The real Vanishing Drive is a collaboration with Kagami. Similar to Kuroko’s misdirection, Kagami draws the attention of the opponent to him, just for a second, and that makes it possible for Kuroko to pass his opponent successfully. This technique is effective enough to pass through the defenses of Midorima and Takao (who possesses the Hawk Eye). The only one so far who has beaten it, is Aomine. Because of the two’s mutual understanding about basketball, closing his eyes (making Kagami’s misdirection ineffective) and by following Kuroko’s breath, Aomine was able to crush down the Vanishing Drive. During the game against Tōō Academy, Kuroko performed his Ignite Pass Kai, a new, upgraded version of his Ignite Pass, which is a very powerful pass that pushes the ball at a blinding speed that it even flies past Aomine’s hand when he tried to block it. Midorima stated that the Ignite Pass Kai is much like a bullet being fired out of a gun. Kuroko’s special ability is the Misdirection Overflow, where when Kuroko’s misdirection runs out on him, his teammates have the ability to do the Vanishing Drive. This technique is specially created to decrease the accuracy of shots. However, when this happens Kuroko is just a regular member on the court without any special talents. He also is helped by Aomine on his shooting skills, creating a shooting style that uses misdirection- the Phantom Shot. The essence of this technique is to use the palm of his hand to thrust the ball forward, although this will mess up the shooting posture. Furthermore, because of the strange shooting position, the ball looks lower than a usual shot. Instead of shooting above one’s head, the Phantom Shot releases from the chest. The opponent naturally looks lower because of the ball’s position, so his view is limited. By following a fast release, Kuroko can shoot the ball through the opponent’s field of vision, like a floater with less arc, with the ball seemingly disappearing in thin air. Apart from his lack of presence, Kuroko acquired his own version of the Emperor Eye- the Quasi-Emperor Eye- that is different than Akashi’s in the sense that Kuroko’s Emperor Eye cannot predict the movements of his opponents (which Akashi’s Emperor Eye can), but rather the teammates whom he is familiar with. However, due to his long-term observation of his teammates and the trust he built up with them, his Quasi-Emperor Eye can predict movements one step ahead of Akashi’s. He also uses this to change his passing routes and his teammates passes if he sees the ball will be stolen. When Kagami reaches the Zone’s 2nd gate, the gatekeeper is none other than Kuroko himself. Kuroko respects but doesn’t like Midorima because of his way of thinking; Midorima also has similar feelings toward Kuroko. Kuroko considers himself a “Shadow”, whose goal is to help his “Light” achieve greatness. Kuroko calls Kagami “his Light”. He also has a tendency to speak and act completely deadpan, and a running gag involves his teammates, thinking they are alone, talking to themselves only for Kuroko to answer them, apparently having been in the area long before they arrived. However, despite his initially kind personality, he gets extremely furious at the sight of dirty play, when his teammates are already injured by foul methods in the Kirisaki Daiichi game. His aura changes so drastically, even Kagami got scared when he saw him get angry. When he gets angry, it gets very hard to beat him, as he is filled up with fighting spirit. Also, when the situation worsens, he seems to turn talkative.
- Taiga Kagami
- A naturally gifted basketball player, Kagami easily makes his way into Seirin’s starting line-up as a freshman power forward. He has been said to be equal to the Generation of Miracles, even some of the Miracles themselves. When he first returned to Japan, he was disappointed by its relatively low level of basketball skill compared to that in the United States. However, since starting high school, Kagami has been spurred on by his desire to compete with the “Generation of Miracles”. While he is a powerful all-around player, Kagami’s unique skill is his ability to jump at impressive heights, his jump is said to get higher and higher as a match progresses. This skill facilitates not only his most common move, the dunk, but also allows him to defend well against taller players. At, he has a poor shooting which forces him to rely on his jumping power to dunk. But as time progresses, he trained his left hand and significantly improved this, enabling him to pass the ball to Kiyoshi at the last second against Touou and win. When he makes a jumpshot, he also stays in the air longer than the blocker, making it almost unblockable. The drawback to this capability is that his body is still underdeveloped thus he often injures himself. Having trained extensively since the InterHigh school championships, he is capable of dunking from the free-throw line: a feat that put him on the same league as the Generation of Miracles. The result of his training is that he is able to jump high enough to touch the top of the backboard. He is also able to jump from far away in a difficult position and still be able to block a shot. Facing Touou a second time, Kagami displayed a never-before-seen skill: a high-level tactical battle. This is a very realistic simulation of a basketball one-on-one in one’s minds by reading his opponents subtle feints or moves. Kagami used this to play a simulation of a one-on-one against Aomine and accurately determined that he would lose, forcing him to pass the ball to Izuki and withdraw from his one-on-one against Aomine. Like many of the other developed characters, Kagami hosts a signature move. It is called Meteor Jam and was taught by the basketball coach he shared with Himuro in America, Alex Garcia. The technique possesses enough power to even penetrate through Murasakibara’s defense, however, the wrinkle to this technique is that it requires massive jumping power to throw the ball into the hoop and thus can only be executed in the Zone. As Kuroko has chosen Kagami as his new “Light”, Kagami is also bolstered by Kuroko’s techniques. Kuroko is the one normally to calm Kagami down, normally with hits or punches to get Kagami focused. Like Aomine, he also has the rare power to enter the “zone”. In this state, his speed, strength and jumping power are greatly augmented that he can keep up with Aomine, overpower Murasakibara who is stronger than him (even blocking his full-powered Thor’s Hammer) and leap even higher to block Himuro’s Mirage Shot. Kagami’s seemingly wild reflexes is compared to a tiger by other players. Apart from basketball, he is a great cook, and taught Riko how to cook curry when she came for his help. He is also a glutton and is able to eat at least five times a normal meal. It is worth noting that Kagami is the only Zone user to have entered it more than once in a match and the only player to have opened the Zone’s second gate, known as the “Direct Drive Zone”, the Zone’s true form. Schoolwork greatly contrasts Kagami’s well-polished basketball skills: it is seen that his grades in every subject are atrocious, including English, even though he has lived in America.
- Junpei Hyūga
- Captain of the Seirin team, Hyuuga is a clutch shooter, his capabilities escalating immensely when the team is in a pinch. Along with Hyuuga’s change in skill comes a change in personality; normally Hyuuga is a collected and calm individual, but when he isn’t, he becomes heated and rude. This is called “clutch time” and happens primarily when the match intensifies but he has been seen acting like this outside of games. He is the best shooter on the team, regularly making three-point shots throughout the course of a game. Prior to the addition of Kuroko and Kagami, he was one of the centerpieces of the Seirin team’s ‘run and gun’ play style, catching balls scooped by Kiyoshi near the net to shoot as three-pointers. He is also seen being able to shoot a three-pointer two meters from the three-point line. His special move is called “Barrier Jumper”, in which he takes a quick jab step away from the opponent and successfully make a jumpshot. The downside of this technique is that, when used repeatedly, the defender starts to adjust to its timing. Near the end of the 4th quarter of the Seirin vs Rakuzan match, he manages to perfectly copy Mibuchi’s “Earth Shot”. Notably, he is the only player in the series so far to receive a technical foul (for excessive complaining) and out of all the players in Seirin, he has the highest shooting success rate. Also, prior to the four fouls he received in the finals against Rakuzan, he is also the only player who has almost never been seen subbed out once. This is most probably due to him being the captain and the only shooting guard in the team. He is very big on respect for the seniors.
- Shun Izuki
- Acting as the team’s “control tower”, Izuki is always calm and collected. While he has no special physical abilities, he has the “Eagle Eye”, a mental skill that helps him visualize the court from any point of view and make accurate blind passes. Izuki’s special move is called Eagle Spear, in which he steals the ball from an opponent using his arm to knock it away in their blind spot. His Eagle Eye helps him in doing so, associated with his ability to think ahead before the opponent. His Eagle Eye has developed to the point that he can pass through Yosen High’s Eagle Wall and predict Hayama’s Lightning Dribble. However, his Eagle Eye has a blind spot unlike the Hawk Eye, which Mayuzumi takes advantage of. He loves puns, a running gag being that he makes them quite frequently much to the chagrin of his teammates.
- Shinji Koganei
- Considered a jack of all trades, master of none, Koganei is a fairly skilled all-rounder, having started playing basketball during his first year in high school. This is driven home when his coach denotes his special skill as ‘being able to shoot from any point on the court, with a so-so accuracy rate’; a decidedly normal ability. He serves as the sixth man of Seirin’s team, often coming off the bench for the other players, and has the most energetic personality out of all the players on the team. He is, however, quite intelligent, ranking in the top 20% of his class, though he does not excel in any particular subject. Players compare Koganei’s seemingly wild reflexes to that of a feral cat. He is the only non-prodigal player to possess this skill, having acquired it from his experience in playing tennis.
- Rinnosuke Mitobe
- A stalwart player, Mitobe is very quiet and reserved. Although he is never shown speaking (except for in VOMIC), Koganei seems to understand his gestures and expressions perfectly. A hard worker with excellent defensive skills, he is also an accomplished hook shooter. He lives in a small house with a very large family, and is tasked with making and serving breakfast. He was the team’s starting center while Kiyoshi was injured.
- Satoshi Tsuchida
- While a regular member of the team in his first year, Tsuchida now sees little game-time due to the addition of Kuroko and Kagami. Good with rebounds, he is apparently not quite as skilled as the other regulars, but remains a key component of the old team’s playing style.
- Teppei Kiyoshi
- The progenitor of Seirin’s basketball team and its former ace, Kiyoshi is the last of the original Seirin team members to be introduced, due to a hospitalization for a knee injury he received during a game. Rumored to be very capable, his preferred position is point guard, but since their team lacked any other player with the body size to play center, he offered to fill that hole. On Koganei’s suggestion, he tried to play both, despite the inherent impossibility. With big hands that allow him to palm the ball with ease, Kiyoshi possesses impressive ball-handling skills for a center (he has been seen successfully shooting a three-pointer during their match against Yosen), and an uncanny sense of timing that allows him to make a move, observe his opponents’ reaction, and then counter it in the last second, all in the blink of an eye. This ability is referred to as the Right of Postponement. Because of his large hands, he uses these for something entirely different: rebounding. Instead of jumping towards the ball with both hands, he has gained the ability to grab the ball with only one hand. This gives him the advantage of recovering the ball in the air quicker and with a longer extension. This technique is dubbed “Vice Claw” and it allows him to compete and beat taller players during rebounds. He has obtained this skill after strengthening his hand muscles by catching a big rock. He is renowned and respected by many players in the realm of high-school basketball, and is one of the few players to have held his own against the Generation of Miracles during their peak. While he is currently able to play, the knee injury he sustained during his freshman year was quite severe: formally speaking it required surgery, but the process would make him unable to play basketball for the rest of his high school career. He instead opted to rehabilitate without invasive procedures, though he would only be able to do so for one year at the most. Despite this setback, he vows to make the most of the time he has. Although Hyuuga thinks he is weird, he respects Kiyoshi greatly. Kiyoshi is the most optimistic of his teammates, often offering encouragement with a big smile.
- Among high school basketball players, he is one of the “Five Uncrowned Kings”, a group of five prodigal players, though overshadowed by the Generation of Miracles, of similarly great prowess and skill. It was recently discovered that the only ones who can mirror the growth of the Uncrowned Kings are Hyuga and Izuki. Known for his stabilizing presence and extreme unpredictability due to the Right of Postponement, Kiyoshi is known as the “Iron-Heart”.
- Riko Aida
- the team’s coach, is a second-year student. One reason for her unique position as a student coach is her ability to immediately scan and evaluate the physical capabilities of players at a glance. She gained this ability from going to work with her father, who works as a sports trainer, and spending her time looking at the muscles of athletes and their related data. She is very devoted to her job as coach, so she diligently researches other teams to devise strategies against them. Riko even uses her father’s sports facilities for the team’s unique training, which eschews weights for activities like practicing in the pool and drilling basics. Nevertheless, while extremely intelligent, her emotions are often flighty, switching from intensely heated to happily nonchalant at the drop of a hat. Her punishments on her team are very harsh. She is a very bad cook, almost always adding supplements in the team’s dishes.
- Tetsuya #2
- Kuroko’s pet dog found in the streets. He was taken in by the team as a sort of mascot, picking up the name Tetsuya #2 for his eerily similar eyes to Kuroko. He is an Alaskan Malamute pup that now wears a Seirin jersey numbered #16. Though Kagami is the only one reluctant to accept their new teammate, he eventually does after the dog proves to be surprisingly helpful and saving Kagami from a possible injury from torn shoes. He now joins the team wherever they go, most often hiding in a bag carried by Kuroko.