For three years in a row, the Teikou Junior High basketball team took the championship crown thanks to their outstanding players. However, after graduating, the team split up and went to different high schools. At Seirin High School, two students have been recruited to the team. Taiga, a player just returning form the US, and Kuroko, a a student whose lack of presence allowed him to move around the court unnoticed. Kuroko was Taikou’s phantom sixth man who, while receiving little recognition, guided the team to victory with his assists.
Although flashy and unrealistic in terms of the sport, Kuroko’s Basketball does present a compelling basketball series with a wide array of characters. With a slight shounen vibe to keep things interesting, hopefully these anime recommendations can do the same.
For Fans of Teammates Turned Rivals
After being inspired by the small, but talented volleyball ace Little Giant, Shouyou Hinata revives the volleyball club at his middle school. However, when he is brutally crushed by King of the Court Tobio Kageyama, his first match ends up being his last. Swearing to surpass him, Shouyou joins the volleyball team in high school only to discover Tobio is now his teammate.
Both series follow a similar plot line about characters moving into high school to play and be better at their sport. Of course, when you transition, teams are shuffled up as players go to different schools. This creates rivalries in and at other schools in both shows, but Haiykyuu places more of a focus on it.
Haruka Nanase has a passion for swimming leading him to compete and win a tournament in elementary school with his friends. Years later, they reunite as high schools students and while Haruka and three friends decide to form a swim club, his fourth friend, Rin, attends another school in order to surpass Haruka in skill and has no interest in being friends again.
Although Free shows vastly more skin, both series are about the complexities of friendships and teamwork. Teamwork is less of a focus in Free, but both series have a large amount of character drama as well as passion for the sport. Of course, rivalry also plays a huge part.
For Fans of Hidden Talents
As a shy and frequently bullied kid, Sena is accustomed to running away. However, after Hiruma, the captain of the American Football team, sees his skill at running, he goes to great lengths to recruit Sena as a running back in order to turn the team’s lackluster record around.
Both series are all about making your abilities work for you. Kuroko uses his lack of presence to assist on the court while Sena uses his top-notch “don’t punch me in the face, pls” running speed. Of course, while both have team dynamics in common, Eyeshield 21 is about learning a sport from scratch for the main character.
Although otaku Sakamiuchi Onoda hoped to join the anime club to make friends, he sadly finds it disbanded. To cheer himself up, he decides to bicycle to Akihabara – a 90km trip he has been doing since elementary school. When he peddles past a school peer practicing peddling up an incline, Onoda’s skill at it baffles him enough to challenge him to a race. Thus starts Onoda’s foray into the cycling world.
Kuroko has a lack of presence and Onoda is a major otaku. Both main characters in these series seem like they wouldn’t have anything particularly extraordinary about them, but in both series we are proven wrong. They both make their innate abilities work for them in their designated sports that makes them the awe of everyone around them.
When it came to batting, Ren Mihashi was an ace of his middle school baseball team. However, it was his pitching that lead to their constant loses. The bullying of his teammates got to be so much that his self-esteem was crushed and he moved to a new prefecture for high school with no intent on playing ball. However, while is unwillingly dragged in, he finds that this team might just be his perfect match.
Both of these shows are all about team dynamics. No matter how good (or bad) of a player you are, without a team that you trust behind you, things aren’t going to go well. Kuroko himself is a master at teamwork while Ren strongly depends on his team to build up confidence.
For Fans of Basketball
Hanamichi Sakuragi is known for three things – his height, his fire red hair, and his fire red temper. Hoping to get a girlfriend, unfortunately his is reputation precedes him. However, when a girl approaches him one day and asks if he likes basketball, of course he falls in love with her and tries to impress her with a slam dunk. Unfortunate, he overshoots, but when the girl informs on him to the basketball team about his great physical capabilities, he finds himself pulled in deeply.
Slam Dunk and Kuroko’s Basketball both take time outs for comedy, but more so in Slam Dunk. The difference being is that Sakuragi isn’t really that into basketball at first so much as he is into getting a girlfriend. However, as both series progress, you are drawn in by the complex team relationships that drive each series.
Hideyoshi is a homeless kid in New York that hustles kids at basketball. However, he has now been drafted into a pro league with one goal: to beat the aliens at basketball! While humans once dominated, aliens have taken over supremacy at basketball, but these rag-tag misfits aim to bring the championship back.
After Buzzer Beater, we all wish we had a little more Space Jam in our basketball anime. In these series, both teams aim for being the best and are legitimately good at playing basketball. This means that the major focus is on building teamwork. They also focus more on “flashy” basketball than realistic basketball.
Although Aikawa was the captain of Tendoji High School’s prestigious basketball team, when he moves to a new town, he fins the basketball team defunct. However, his passion and persistence, he builds a group of misfits into a dysfunctional team that he intends to whip into shape.
Although the team in Kuroko’s Basketball is established and fairly decent, both stories follow a star player moving to a new area and having to deal with the rigors of bonding with a new team. Of course, Dear Boys focuses more on a “back to basics” sort of vibe, while Kuroko’s Basketball shows players progressing from their current level of skill.
If you have more anime recommendations for Kuroko’s Basketball, let us know in the comments section below.