Kuroko no Basuke is the Generation of Miracles… at Building Atmospheres
I thought of this on season 1, and by season 3, I just had to mention this-Kuroko no Basuke is a psychological expert in manipulating viewers’ immersion and building atmospheres.
Admittedly, Kuroko no Basuke’s basketball matches had been getting crazier and crazier. We had seen the scenes evolved from “basketball players with special talents” to “basketball players with legit superpowers”. To it’s defense however, the Zone is actually a parallel to real life sport psychology. Even so, the anime executes this element like some supernatural thing, so I’ll just continue calling them “superpowers”, even if there are clearly people defending this otherwise.
It then begets the question though. Despite all the over-the-top “superpowers”, how the heck am I still getting all immersed and excited by their basketball matches every single time? The answer is actually pretty simple-music.
Let’s look at the scene above for example. The scene was actually from season 1, but I think it perfectly entails what I’m trying to say (it might be a good idea if you watched the above video just once before reading on). The dubstep beats help you gets engaged into the audience’s commentaries, it is however, steady and static, and fits nicely since these were conversations, not the actual basketball scenes. At the 0:24 mark, when the opposing team got the ball, the music shifts it’s compositions. Electric guitars are used here, and when Takao got the ball and was dribbling towards the court with high speed, a lengthy guitar riff becomes apparent, perfectly expressing the ominous feelings. When the ball was passed to Midorima, a high-note was audibly played from the guitar when he shoots. This is during the 0:37 mark, and once he shoots, the entire music composition shifted again.
After the ball entered the hoop, you can hear some sort of electric synthesizers/keyboard in the background, playing a specific rhythm with a steady beat. As we were experiencing the fallout, the music suddenly becomes calmer, unlike the menacing tune before. Kuroko had something up his sleeves, however, and quietly told Kagami to run to the other side of the court. When Kuroko got the ball, the smooth addition of kick drums during 1:02 is flawless, you get the feeling shit are about to get real, as we look forward to see just what Kuroko is up to.
At the 1:12 mark, Kuruko used a move that would later be known as the “Cyclone Pass”, a pass from one side of the court directly to the other far side. The music changes once more, and while electric guitars are used again to bolster excitement, this time, the tune is of course, hopeful, unlike before, signifying that the main characters’ team is still successfully fighting back, partially ending this segment as Kagami dunked the ball. “Partially” because in order to retain the same atmosphere of excitement just a little longer, the same music remained during the audience’s reactions, at least until 1:34, when the music shifts again, this time to an electronic rock track, where Kuroko and Midorima had a brief staredown, not without changing the music’s composition again at 1:41, which was pretty much the same track, but just with everything removed except for the drum beats-the perfect way to mellow itself out towards the end of the episode.
That ended up longer than I thought, but I think you get what I mean now. Musically-wise, Kuroko no Basuke’s was carefully produced and mixed during the basketball scenes, perfectly fitting what viewers of said scenes ought to be feeling at the time-whether or not to be anxious, nervous, thrilling or excited-it’s all meticulously crafted. As you can see from above, there are rapid shifts in moods, and as a result, different tracks to suit those moods; in just a duration of 2 minutes. While that scene was particularly memorable for me in terms of sound production values, Kuroko no Basuke had maintain it’s music quality similarly to that throughout the whole three seasons.
While Kuroko no Basuke had seen different usage in music genres so far which consists of electronic, rock and even orchestrated pieces, it had never dampen their ability to build atmospheres. As a result, despite being so over-the-top, the anime still has a knack in getting me into the matches.
Indeed, there is a reason why I always feel all hot and bothered watching all these muscular high school boys playing with balls (no sexual innuendo here, yup). If this were some generic shounen, I wouldn’t had been as immersed. The big difference is Kuroko no Basuke’s background music, and how they used it in building atmospheres.
Kuroko no Basuke is a master manipulator. Depending on the momentum, it shifts it’s mood and music swiftly during the basketball matches with meticulous timing. It’s like I’m watching a wrestling promo/video package for the entirety of the matches. It’s truly an expert in manipulating viewers’ emotions for the matches. At the very least, Kuroko no Basuke played me like a damn fiddle.