The game against Hanamiya becomes quite ugly thanks to his spider web formation and his team’s continuous use of rough play. This does paint Hanamiya as a one-sided villain, but he plays the role of a manipulative snake quite well. And if anything, it’s his style of breaking teamwork that convinces Seirin to trust in their teammates more than their play style, while also being motivated by Teppei’s harsh beating to take one for the team. Right after this we get a 2 ep break at hot springs and mountain training with Riko’s dad Kagetora. Even without any games, these serve as pretty good comic relief and observational periods on how to improve the team. Heck, Kagami had to be sent back to America for his training.
But the show really doesn’t shine as bright as the winter cup game between Seirin and Touou. Not only does Seirin have to deal with the fact they lost to Touou before, but it’s also clear Touou never underestimated them considering how much they counter them mid-game. This is especially the case for Kuroko when both his misdirection, improved pass and vanishing drive are exposed. And the solution to this is something I’d rather not spoil, but it expresses how desperate Seirin was to make this shot at the winter cup work, even if it’s their last.
As for something more easy to explain, it’s Kagami and Aomine that steal the show. Seeing these two push each other to the brink of their ability was both an interesting dynamic and display of good change. Kagami isn’t as impulsive during matches, striking only when his ability and timing is right. So it’s great that he strikes hard, because it lets us see Aomine finally enjoying Basketball like a player rather than a monster. Those smiles he makes throughout the game are feel more like happiness rather than bloodthirst. Oh, and that moment when both of them enter “the zone” is a great example of how to show off the money put into animation the right way.
Once again, Kuroko no Basket 2 showcases how to build upon your predecessor and polish it to near perfection. Nitpicks are plenty in any sports or shonen series, but any I can bring up are blown away by the sheer adrenaline and hot-blooded passion in these games. And even if we won’t face Akashi during this season, his intro as a killer outside the court is quite enticing. Let the winter cup go on!