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branchandroot: two hands drawing each other (drawing each other)
[personal profile] branchandroot
In some ways, I see these two characters as two sides of the same coin, that coin being strategy.

Akashi's particular strengths are associated, in the story, with shougi, a complex strategy game which includes the possibility of captured pieces being deployed against one and the promotion to new mobility of almost all the pieces upon penetrating the opponent's territory. We have yet to see exactly how this plays out in a game, but it suggests a strong ability to think ahead, to model branching possibilities with unpredictable variables, and to correctly perceive the strengths and weaknesses of the "pieces", the players, in question.

Kuroko's ability to pass with the speed and accuracy he does suggests that he can track the flow of the game with a similar kind of perception. He must know where all the players are, where they are moving, and where their attention is, in order to perform his misdirection while getting the ball into the hands of a player open to move or score. More than once, we see him passing to where a moving player is going to be, or passing behind himself to a player he cannot see at that particular moment.

There is another possible coin here, though, which is less clearly shown as yet. I might call this coin leadership or guidance or direction.

In Akashi's case, it's clear he possesses this quality; it's just not clear yet why or how it operates. We know he was captain at Teikou for at least two and possibly all three years. We know he is now, as a first year, captain of the Rakuzan team, and that all the older players, who are powerful and well known in their own rights, show no objection to or resentment of this fact. Perhaps it's as simple as Akashi's strategic ability being obvious and overwhelming. Perhaps he will be shown to have a great deal of charisma, though I personally doubt this; his affect is very quiet and understated so far, and his old team doesn't respond to him in ways that suggest charisma, to me. My money is on overwhelming talent and perception, with a touch of megalomania on the side.

Kuroko, with an even more understated and quiet affect, is a little subtler. But I find it notable that every time he suggests a strategy to his teammates, it's adopted. Even Kagami, who argues volubly with their senpai, listens to Kuroko. Indeed, Kuroko is often the one who steps in to end Kagami's arguments with the coach and captain. To be sure, he often does this by punching/jabbing/facepalming Kagami one, but this is indeed what works with Kagami. Hyuuga is the captain, Izuki the play-maker, Aida the coach; Kuroko defers to all of them and none of these are authorities are compromised. But there are also repeated comments on how taking Kuroko off the court makes the team less cohesive. Ironically enough for a shadow-player, if there's anyone who has charisma, here, I think it's Kuroko. What he doesn't show any sign of is Akashi's raw talent and drive, or perhaps obsession.

I have to wonder whether it will turn out that only Akashi and Kuroko put together constitute the kind of leader we're used to seeing in this genre, and that part of the plot tension and complexity is produced precisely by separating that archetype of powerful-and-charismatic into two characters who appear to have different and competing visions of what a team should be.

Date: 2012-07-28 08:59 pm (UTC)
jetsam: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jetsam
I'm going to argue. I'd say that the potential for the charisma is there but Kuroko was never driving the strategy at Teikou because Akashi was there. I think to start off with Kuroko was very much the foil to Aomine as he talks about - not working really with Midorima or Kise or the tall guy (can't really comment about Akashi yet).

At Seirin he's more and more doing so, but to start off with it's very much the senpai as a team and Kuroko-and-Kagami as a unit, less interaction between the two operations. The cohesion comes but it's a gradual thing. And that I think is where the story's going. Kuroko had a dream of a cohesive team but he still has to learn how to work with that.

Date: 2012-07-28 09:18 pm (UTC)
jetsam: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jetsam
I did wonder if the instant respect from the seniors was more to do with his status as one of the Miracles rather than anything personal, and when he shows his skill that's solidifies.

It is interesting that they seem to consider Kuroko's team a larger threat than anyone else (other than Akashi).

But I see the angle now :)

Date: 2012-07-28 10:55 pm (UTC)
qem_chibati: A character from black cat, with angel wings and a rainbow hue (Black cat - I'm so sweet and innocent)
From: [personal profile] qem_chibati
*just sits in the background sparkling at you*

Date: 2012-07-29 12:30 am (UTC)
foxinthestars: cute drawing of a fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] foxinthestars
I totally need to read the manga (I like MangaTraders myself). I am loving the anime on Crunchyroll, although the "must write fic!" switch hasn't flipped, at least not yet.

BTW, despite not having read the manga, I am the Ao3 tag wrangler for it, so lemme know if I get stuff jacked up for ya (and I hope you don't mind me changing the canonical fandom tag from "Kuroko no Basket" to "Kuroko no Basuke | Kuroko's Basketball" ^_~).

Date: 2012-07-29 01:53 am (UTC)
foxinthestars: cute drawing of a fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] foxinthestars
Wrangler guidelines are to indicate the long vowels, for the most part, so I made the canonicals your way. The possible exceptions are if there's a conventional English rendering (eg Tokyo) or if the fandom has a clear consensus otherwise (which is one of the places where I'm too hermitish to be an ideal wrangler; I'd be the last person to know about that... -_-;).

Date: 2012-07-30 03:31 am (UTC)
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 split infinitives)
From: [personal profile] kaigou
Each time you talk about KnB, I try again. I think where the story falls down for me is in two parts. One, it's rather light on the actual strategy -- as in, actual basketball strategy. (I know there are strategies; I read enough about why Lin hadn't shown his skills previously to realize it was because the team's coach used strategies that left Lin with nothing to do, which intrigued me.) So we get team-based "these are their habits" strategies, but nothing team-wide. Or at least, if it's there, it's so quiet, and it's certainly nothing on the incredible level of Oofuri.

The second is that the coach feels like a pandering character. As in, pandering to the audience. I haven't quite put my finger on it, but she seems to be a new type of variation on the token girl. Instead of being the love interest, she's the supposedly capable and confident one, but I've yet to see her actually coach. At least, as a former athlete, not coach in the way I expect a coach to act. (Again, Momokun from Oofuri would be a prime example of an actual authoritative coach with extensive game-knowledge who communicates this to her players and instructs them on what to do next, and corrects them when they go off her strategies.) The female coach in KnB feels like part-cheerleader, part-manager, doing just enough to qualify for the barest title of coach but not nearly as much as I'd expect.

I think part of my frustration is because strategy is where things can become really intriguing. It's where a game becomes an intellectual pursuit, and where you can literally out-think your opponent. An excellent use of the coach in sports stories, then, is to act not only as the instructor for the team, but also for the audience (that is, me). Explanations become guideposts so I understand what's going on, and what's at stake. The players are busy playing, obviously (and not every sport has the long pauses like baseball where you can insert player internal monologues about their own personal strategies), so the coach is the best character to take on that role. Ten episodes into KnB, and I see next to none of that from the coach. Frex: in Oofuri, during playtime, we regularly get the coach's analysis of what her own players are doing, what the other team is doing, what the other team might be planning next, and how to counter that. In KnB, it's a lot of shots of the coach sitting on the bench with the other players, as though she's just one more cheering observer. The lack of internal analysis made visible, drives me bonkers.

Which doesn't mean it's a bad story, only that it doesn't hit my sweet spots for what I want out of a competition-based story. Otherwise, it feels like when I was a kid and went to a baseball game with my dad and some of his friends. One of his friends spent the entire ride explaining the rules to me... of football. I was totally baffled at the game I ended up seeing, and utterly disappointed with how boring it was compared to the game whose rules and strategies I'd just memorized. I had no idea who to root for, and little interest in doing so, because I didn't know what was at stake. A sports story where I lack any knowledge of the how's and why's, and I end up feeling like that six-year-old all over again.

Perhaps this is why Hikaru no Go is such a favorite of mine, because Sai does act like a coach in terms of making the game transparent to this audience member. Hmmm.
Edited Date: 2012-07-30 03:33 am (UTC)

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