Production I.G. and Two Great Sports Anime
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It has been a while since the last time I talked about these two shows, but considering their quality, I felt it was important to revisit them, especially now that I have seen more of one of them. “Kuroko no Basket” and “Haikyuu” are two shows made by Production I.G., the studio behind a number of classic anime, including “Eden of the East” and “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.”
Production I.G. has worked in a variety of genres. Aside from the two shows listed above, they are also responsible for co-producing “Attack on Titan” with Wit Studio, as well as making “Pyscho-Pass” at the Direction of Shinichiro Watanabe.
Within the realm of sports anime, the studio has also been relatively sucessful. Aside from the “Haikyuu” and “Kuroko no Basuke,” they were also responsible for both “Ace of Diamond,” co-produced with Studio Madhouse, and “Run with the Wind,” both of which were received relatively positively.
However, I think both “Kuroko no Basket” and “Haikyuu” excel for a number of reasons. For starters, while both shows have a relatively large cast, they do enough with those casts to make each of the minor characters pretty memorable.
A good example from each would be Tsukiyama from “Haikyuu” and Hyuuga from “Kuroko no Basket. In the case of Tsukiyama, his character stands out initially because of how tall he is, but isn’t particularly moved by the idea of playing Volleyball. However, after getting good at blocking, he realizes how much fun it is to use his height to his advantage during play.
Hyuuga’s story is noticeably different. While not possessing any innate skill rather than being somewhat taller than average, he works hard both at leading the team and at being a good player. These two things lead to some pretty great moments of other teams underestimating his skill and him proving them wrong.
Another thing great about each show is the dynamic between their main characters. In “Kuroko no Basket,” Taiga is initially perplexed by Kuroko, as his skills at basketball seemed below average at best. However, as he learns about Kuroko’s specialized skills in passing, he comes to understand just how good of a teammate Kuroko can be. In the first episode Kuroko promises Taiga “to become the shadow to your light.”
Meanwhile, Hinata and Kageyama’s relationship in “Haikyuu” is also quite different. Hinata starts out wanting revenge on Kageyama for beating his middle school team when they first met. Leaving his teammates behind, Hinata trains, practicing almost everyday until he can join his high school volleyball team. Upon arriving to Karasuno High School, Hinata finds out that Kageyama is actually on his team. The two eventually must put aside their differences, though, in order to work together, while still maintaining their rivalry.
They would not be great sports anime, however, if they were lack in great action scenes, and of course they have those in spades as well. For “Kuroko no Basket,” a great scene that comes to mind is in the second episode, when Kuroko show Taiga and the rest of the team why he was known as the phantom sixth member of the generation of miracles.
While scrimmaging, Kuroko uses his passes to both confuse his opponents and to get the ball to Taiga, who himself uses his incredible height and jumping capability to dunk over everyone. The two work together extremely well, and manage to outscore the other team by a large margin. It is a scene that not only looks cool, but manages to foreshadow the heights the two of them are able to reach.
“Haikyuu” has a lot of great scenes, but one that stands out a lot is when Kageyama and Hinata first play together in Tournament. While their chemistry during practice suggested that the two would not be able to work well together, it turns out not to be the case. The both of them manage to not only work together well, but pull of an impressive series of spikes and fakes that manage to net them the win. In that way, it is very similar to “Kuroko no Basket” in that it manages to foreshadow their success.
Now, that is not to say either series is without fault. “Kuroko no Basket” can often suffer from being a bit to shounen, which can often ruin the atmosphere. For example, it is a bit hard to take a basketball anime seriously when one of the main rival’s abilities is that he can literally make a shot from anywhere on the court. While theoretically it make sense that, given enough time, anyone could make shots consistently from that far away, it does come off a bit silly.
“Haikyuu” certainly is not as bad, but also does not get a free pass. The teams in Haikyuu actually suffer from the opposite reason: being to indistinct. None of them, save for Jousei high school, leave a particularly large impression. Often times it feels like characters are being introduced for the first time when they have been in the series for much longer.
Overall, though these are minor nit-picks. Both “Haikyuu” and “Kuroko no Basket” are great sports anime in their own way, but are similar in their quality. Both manage to have interesting supporting casts, dynamic rivalries, and breath-taking action scenes. While I certainly would not recommenced watching them back to back, they are worth watching at some point.
What are some other great sports anime I should watch? I’ve heard about Slam Dunk quite a bit, and Hanebado also seemed pretty cool, but I would love to hear from you all. Let me know in the comments.
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