|“||Just you watch. Once I get into high school, I'll make sure the whole country learns my name at the Inter-High Tourney!||”|
—Kenji Natsume, to Juri
Kenji Natsume (夏目 健二, Natsume Kenji) is a first-year small forward who plays for Kuzuryū High. He can also play the position of shooting guard when the team needs him to. Everyone at Kuzuryū High calls him 'Tobi' (Kite).
Kenji is about 178 cm tall. He has black colored eyes and voluminous textured black hair when unbraided. Natsume often keeps his hair in box braids, bantu knots, or occasionally in cornrows. Also, Kenji's right arm is tatted with the words' greased lightning;' so, whenever he plays, he wears a black sleeve to cover it. His jersey number is 11, and he wears 'Nike Air Jordan 13' sneakers.
Kenji is a candid and competitive individual who has absolute confidence and pride in his basketball skills. Due to his aggressive and stubborn nature, Natsume has struggled over the years in forming a rapport with the people around him, especially his family members and peers. When he enrolled in Kuzuryū High, Kenji was at odds with the school's faculty and basketball club and faced expulsion from the school. Afterward, he apologized for his mistakes and became one of official members of the Kuzuryū High basketball team. As the team progressed and grew, his demeanor changed. He became tolerant of those around him, depicting his personal growth. Kenji also has a caring side. As the team's most experienced player, he provides tips and tricks to his teammates, especially to Yasuhara, whose basketball skills Natsume has come to acknowledge. After recognizing Yasuhara's skills, Kenji subsequently considered Yasuhara as a rival.
Besides that, Natsume is a devoted brother who cares about his little sister, Juri. Natsume once promised to her that he would become the best high school basketball player.
Natsume is a competitor, and he hates losing. After meeting Fuwa, Natsume started doubting himself and his capabilties. He then realized that there is someone better than him in the game of basketball. Realizing that, he started to change both his thinking and behavior. His shift in attitude and mindset subsequently helped him to level up his game.
Natsume is from Hiroshima Prefecture. As a native of that region, he also speaks in that dialect. His parents divorced when he was very young because of his mother's infidelity. His mother left them, while his father, a construction worker, took him in. Growing up, Kenji has been an enthusiastic fan of basketball. He also started playing the sport at a young age. His father has been very supportive of his passion; at his son's request, he bought a legit basketball ball for him as a gift on his birthday. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, Kenji's father died in an accident at work. Later on, his mother discovered Kenji's gift in her ex-husband's luggage and gave it to her son. Since then, Kenji has held onto that basketball ball up and treats it as his prized possession. Afterward, his mother took him in and got remarried. Nevertheless, Natsume has an extreme grudge against his mother for causing trouble for him and his father through her selfish actions. Kenji is also not on good speaking terms with his stepfather. He would often get into a quarrels with him. This led Natsume to shift to Kanagawa Prefecture, where his aunt lives. Kenji has a little sister named Juri, whom he cares for and loves. Both often speak to each other by phone. He once promised on the phone that she would see him in the Inter-High Tournament once he enrolls in high school. To make that pledge into fruition, Kenji became the official member of the Kuzuryu High Basketball Team.
At the Monster Bash Tournament, during the game against Kikugawa High, Kenji injured his right knee while going for a lay-up. Karasawa, his mentor from Jonan University, took Natsume under his care. To heal Kenji's injury, Karasawa took him to Watase, the training and rehabilitation expert at that institution. She helped Natsume in his recovery process.
Meanwhile, as Kenji was undergoing rehabilitation, he also did some strength training to overcome his physical weaknesses. At present, his right knee has properly healed; however, he still sometimes experience pain when playing.
Kenji is Kuzuryū High's ace, having an unparalleled sense of basketball. At first, he was selfish because he had too much pride in his basketball skills. Also, he felt the need to become stronger as an individual for the team. But, he later realized that he had been seeing things the wrong way. Soon after, he has come to value teamwork along with the drive to get on top together with his teammates.
He is left-handed and excels in scoring. He is the focal point of the team's offense and, along with Sora, has most of the team's points. He is primarily offensive-minded; nonetheless, he is also an excellent defender and can carry the responsibility of shutting down the opposing team's best scorers. He also has impressive speed and agility, and when attacking the basket, he uses the double-clutch technique during layups. Besides that, he is sometimes involved in ball distribution. He can also play the position of a Small Forward or Shooting Guard, and due to that, he is considered a "Swingman."
According to the Jonan University team captain, Karasawa, whom Natsume has been practicing lately, he realized Kenji's potential that can enable him to build up towards Zone, which is by properly harness his stress into "Energy." The Zone is described as the balance between active thinking, game planning, and instinctual play, allowing for the most optimal and quick decision making for a short period of time. Professional and experienced basketball players can deliberately enter the Zone.
- The name Kenji means "wise, healthy, next."
- Kenji's surname Natsume means "summer" (夏) (natsu) and "eye" (目) (me).
- "Sensei take my expulsion away.... I want to take the Kuzu High Basketball Team to the Inter-High Tournament!!" - to Masayoshi Satsuki (Chapter 22)
- "So, Sensei what you said before... I somehow thought I knew the feeling but withstanding pain isn't suited for me after all." - to Masayoshi Satsuki (Chapter 22)
- "It's not like I said we had to play. Regardless of winning or lossing. Which is even more reason not to. There's nothing to talk about. The girls team that lost in the first round can't possibly campare to us. Can you really play a game without caring about winning or losing?" - to Madoka Yabuchi (Chapter 25)
- "I'd like to ask ya somethin'. Before I answer that. Coming from the perspective of a coach who raised a team to get to the Inter-High in just 3 years, does my team have no future?... Alright then. I've got a lot of responsibility. So if there's a 1% chance I'll be betting on it. And I will go to the top with them!" - to Sakamaki Yohito (Chapter 91)
- "That foolishness, that fixation all is abandoned. Everything will be settled with this game." - to himself (Chapter 120)
- "If this is rock bottom, then it can't get any worst. Which means that only way is up. I will rise with this team!!" - to Kuzuryū High (Chapter 121)
- "I never thought we'd meet again so soon. I was starting to get tired of waiting." - to Hyou Fuwa (Chapter 123)
- "If the opponent is strong, then stronger is what I shall become. We will not lose..!!" - to himself (Chapter 149)