The finale of the Seirin vs. Touou game brings the most intensity yet in Kuroko no Basket as Kagami and Aomine enter the Zone!
In an attempt to shut down Aomine’s impressive shooting ability, Kuroko, Kagami, and Kiyoshi triple-team him. Kuroko’s plan is for Kagami to let him get by and then block him from his blind spot, with the added insurance of Kuroko’s Misdirection to throw off Aomine’s shot on the chance he gets it off. To everyone’s surprise, this actually makes Aomine miss the shot.
We get to see a short introspective from Aomine in this episode, where he questions what made him stop caring about basketball. It’s interesting to get a look at Aomine’s own thoughts for once, rather than just seeing the arrogant and bored exterior that we normally do. He realizes he’s happy about this game because he can play all out, which allows him to enter the Zone.
This is a side of Aomine that even the Generation of Miracles hasn’t seen. According to Akashi, this is Aomine’s “true form,” Aomine at full power. He basically seems unstoppable yet again, yet Kagami asks Hyuuga to let him go one-on-one against Aomine. This prompts Kuroko to recall playing with Aomine near the end of middle school, when Aomine stopped caring about basketball. It’s obvious that Kuroko sees a lot of parallels between Aomine and Kagami, which is clearly the point.
While playing one-on-one against Aomine, Kagami keeps wondering why he can’t win. Finally, after thinking about the fact that his team his counting on him, and that he can’t stand watching his teammates (particularly Kuroko) cry again, he enters the Zone, too.
While Kagami and Aomine are in the Zone, everyone else has a heck of a time trying to keep up with what’s going on. For at least a full minute, they keep playing back and forth without either of them making a shot. But Kagami manages to get the upper hand and make a shot, then blocks Aomine’s next shot.
Of course, Aomine being Aomine, he manages to make an impossible shot from behind the backboard to help Touou keep a commanding lead. This leads Seirin to take drastic measures to try to win. Without getting too specific (watch the episode if you’re curious, because it would take a while to explain), Seirin’s eventual victory relies on Kuroko’s belief in both Kagami and Aomine, and Kagami’s determination to win for his team.
This first victory of the Winter Cup for Seirin is more than just a win for the team, though. Obviously, it means Seirin can continue working toward the goal of becoming the best team in Japan. But more than that, Aomine’s loss makes him care about basketball again. It also makes him notice Kuroko more, culminating in a long-overdue fist bump between the two of them.
What’s really interesting about this episode is that, post-credits, we get to see how the members of Touou other than Aomine react to the loss. It’s nice to see how non-Generation of Miracles characters react to things like this; it’s especially interesting to see how the third years deal with things, as this is their last tournament in high school.
It looks like we’ll get a bit of a break from the suspense of competition in the next episode, which will offer a nice change of pace.