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Jul. 28th, 2012

branchandroot: two hands drawing each other (drawing each other)
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.

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