I have held back no water in its season.
Kise’s real talent

So, Fujimaki kind of fell down on explaining a lot of what Kise did in the semi-final match; this, of course, means that I needed to poke at it and try to come up with a rationale. It’s actually surprisingly easy, and over and above that it also suggests some interesting things about the shape of Kise’s real talent and why it hasn’t manifested completely yet.

The very short version is that Kise simply doesn’t have enough experience; his story is the one that has the most need to keep going into next year to develop. It’s actually kind of ruthlessly realistic of Fujimaki, considering.

First, though, let’s back up and think about what it is he actually does.

We are faced with the basic problem that Kise is simply not as fast or agile as Aomine, as tall as Murasakibara, as strong as Midorima, or possessed of x-ray vision a la Akashi. Some of the Miracle copies Kise does are explained: that he produces the same rate of change in his speed as Aomine and therefore produces the same effect on opponents even with a lower overall speed; that he copies Midorima’s form but not his strength and therefore can produce high-angle, unblockable three pointers but only from closer to the basket; that he could therefore combine Midorima’s angle with Kuroko’s shooting form and produce a similar vanishing ball even when his opponent is looking up and not down. We aren’t told how he can copy Murasakibara’s techniques, but the artwork itself suggests an answer: he gets a lot closer to his opponent, and therefore achieves the same angle of block even at a lesser height.

His copy of Akashi is a lot harder to explain, but the answer may be in all the other things we see Kise do. For a long time, Kise can’t copy the other Miracles; and for an equally long time, he seems to do all his copying on a completely intuitive level. When he works on copying Aomine, though, during the Inter-high quarter-final match, we see him processing consciously, actually muttering his observations out loud to himself and putting them together as he seeks to encompass Aomine’s pattern of play. And that’s when he is successful.

Kise’s real talent isn’t primarily raw physical ability, like Aomine and Murasakibara, though that’s what lets him copy directly and intuitively for so long. Rather, his real strength the same kind of observation and analysis we see in Akashi and, increasingly, in Kuroko—the analysis that lets him adjust and adapt moves he can’t copy directly to execute them with his own abilities.

So, no, Kise almost certainly can’t “see” as deeply into his opponents as Akashi can, and definitely doesn’t have Akashi’s strategic awareness. But the same observation and analysis that enables his copying is very likely sufficient to predict the next move the opponent in front of him will make, and act first with moves Akashi uses.

Kise still has a major weakness, though, and I think it’s why he’s still a step behind the other Miracles, why he says right from the start that they’re on another level: he only has two years worth of experience with basketball in any way, shape, or form. Not only did he only join the club in the middle of his second year, he clearly didn’t bother learning any of the technical and tactical details even after he joined. He’s the one Kasamatsu has to explain all those details to, at the start of the season. Given his lack of basic knowledge, I’d say it’s pretty clear that during Kise’s time at Teikou he participated in the basketball club exactly as he had in any other, by relying on pure intuition and physical ability to let him copy the moves without bothering to learn much of the underlying logic or any of the strategy. Most likely, given Teikou’s philosophy, he was let to do that because it worked well enough to keep winning, which worked in the short term but did Kise’s own development as a player no favors at all. (Fortunately, Kasamatsu is a considerably more responsible captain and senpai, who doesn’t let Kise run wild and drags him around to watch more games and hammer a little basic eduction into him.)

The thing is, analysis needs material. Observation needs a target. As Kuroko emphasizes in the semi-final game, without observing as large a body of raw material as possible, analysis will fall short. That is Kise’s current weakness, and I would say that’s why he’s only just now, at the end of current canon year, starting to break moves down and re-combine them effectively. If he continues on this trajectory and finally gets a firm grip on the underlying logic of all those moves he copies, if, instead of just copying them, he can finally apply his analytical talent consciously to take apart and predict the pattern of his opponents’ games and put together the equal and opposite plays to use against them, he will be absolutely terrifying.

But that isn’t happening this year. This year, Kise is, as Kasamatsu points out, still learning. This year he’s still the baby of his team, and the Miracle with the most catching up to do. This year was his first step. Anyone who wants to see him win should be thinking about next year.

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