|Pairing:||Kuroo Tetsurou / Kozume Kenma|
|Alternative name(s):||Kuroken, Kenkuro|
|Gender category:||Slash, yaoi, M/M|
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KuroKen is a pairing in the Haikyuu fandom made up of Kuroo Tetsurou and Kozume Kenma. They are childhood best friends and play together on team Nekoma. As of December 2021, KuroKen has over 9000 fics on AO3, making it the 5th most popular relationship in the Haikyuu tag. They are considered a major ship in HQ fandom, and have a very active global fanbase that becomes even more active whenever canon content is added. While the Haikyuu manga has ended, the anime has not, and Kurokenists are eagerly awaiting the 5th season, which has a lot of KuroKen content. Extra official art as well as the spinoff manga Haikyuu-bu also add a steady amount of new canon that is quickly incorporated into fanworks.
Kuroo and Kenma met as children after Kuroo's family moved next door to Kenma's and their parents introduced them. They grew up together, playing volleyball and video games while attending the same school in different classes due to their one year age gap. As a child, Kuroo was shy and withdrawn while Kenma was the one to encourage Kuroo to join a junior volleyball team. As they grew older, Kuroo became more outgoing and made more friends. The two played volleyball and watched volleyball videos, which suited Kenma better than physically playing volleyball. Kuroo eventually convinced Kenma to join the volleyball team in junior high, saying that the setter position was perfect for a strategist. However, intense training days and matches easily made Kenma sick and this made Kuroo feel guilty.
Of everyone on the Nekoma team, Kuroo knows Kenma best, to the point where he can identify Kenma's minutely different facial expressions and has ranked his favorites. He is shown to sulk in Kenma's room when he's feeling down, and Kenma can generally bring Kuroo's good humor back. Because they've played together for so many years, Kenma and Kuroo are so aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses that they can anticipate each other's actions and communicate wordlessly. Kuroo refers to Kenma as Nekoma's backbone, saying he's Nekoma's "brains and [their] heart." The Nekoma pre-match chant also mentions "the mind," referring to Kenma which he finds embarrassing.
They call each other "Kuro" and "Kenma," although canon has not yet explained how the nickname "Kuro" came about or when they started calling each other by these named. Chapter 318 of the manga, which delves into their childhood, shows that it happened very early on however. It's also stated that Kenma has never failed a test because Kuroo tutors him beforehand.
Kuroo and Kenma have a volleyball court by a bridge in their neighborhood and are often shown using the spot to both practice and talk. On his info page it mentions that winters are too cold and summers too hot for Kenma, who is shown to be wearing three jackets if Kuroo is wearing one. Kuroo tells their teammates stories about Kemma so often that they can recite the stories too.
In the final arc of the manga, Kuroo and Kenma are shown to still be in close contact with each other. Both Kuroo's first and last lines of the manga refer to Kenma.
KuroKen's popularity on AO3 was relatively slow, with the first fic being posted in June 2013 and the next not being posted until March 2014 but was popular enough by 2015 to warrant a AO3 Feed Tumblr. By Dec 2021, KuroKen were the 5th most popular ship on AO3 with over 9000 works. The most popular additional tags on KuroKen fic are fluff, angst, and the combined "fluff and angst" tag. Also popular are established relationship, College AU, hurt/comfort, friends to lovers, slow burn, and "light angst." Interestingly for a pairing of side characters, KuroKen don't suffer from Bruce Banner Syndrome where the majority of fanworks for the pairing are actually for the juggernaut ship instead. While the most highly kudos'd fic in the KuroKen tag is primarily IwaOi, most of the rest are KuroKen-centric.
The KuroKen fanbase are very active, mainly on Twitter and Tumblr as well as Amino, where they post fanfiction, fanart, threadfics, doujinshi, and Socmed AUs (see example fanworks below). There is also a sizable KuroKen fanbase on WattPad and a smaller one on FF.net. They hold regular fan events such as "KuroKen Week" and KuroKen Day. Kuroken Day is celebrated on either January 5th or May 1st, since Kuroo's jersey number is 1 and Kenma's is 5. It can also sometimes be celebrated on March 18th in honor of Haikyuu chapter 318, in which their childhood was revealed in more detail.
When paired with other characters in polyships, KuroKen are most commonly paired with BokuAka (Bokuto Koutarou and Akaashi Keiji). In KuroKen fandom, OT4 generally refers to the BokuAkaKuroKen. Like many anime and manga fandoms, the order of names does matter to some fans, particularly Japanese ones. If Kenma is the more dominant person in the fanwork, it may be tagged "KenKuro" rather than KuroKen, but KuroKen is the generally used name for the pairing in Western fandom. On Twitter, they may also be referred to as "krkn" to save characters.
- Futurefic and College AUs are all fairly common settings for Kuroken fanworks.
- Many older fanfics are interested in exploring the potential conflict that would happen when Kuroo departs for college, leaving Kenma behind.
- Many fanfics created after the end of the manga explore the events and possibilities of the final ("timeskip") arc.
- Kuroo calling Kenma "kitten" is fairly prevalent since cats are a common theme between them (a cat is the unofficial Nekoma team mascot, and Kenma resembles one). Cats are very common in KuroKen fanart (as well as official art).
- Kuroken falls into the Childhood Friends trope by default, since that's their canon background.
- Both sfw and nsfw fanworks like to highlight the pair's size difference, their physical closeness and Kenma being more sensitive to cold weather.
- Performance Anxiety by mysecretfanmoments
- How Kuroo Found Kenma by SuggestiveScribe
- chamomile and carnivorous plants by Ellessey
- curiosity kills by newamsterdam
- the walk home by skiecas
- the galaxy is endless (i thought we were, too) by cosmogony
- Superposition by todxrxki
- Somewhere over the rainbow by Internetpistol
- In another castle by thehoyden
- i'll make you happy (just wait and see) by newamsterdam
- you're the brake lines failing (as my car swerves off the freeway) by ghostpot
- Phantasmic Adoration by @cycyy05
- ☼Breakfast is Over☼ by @kenmalovemail
- Threadfic by @todxrxki
- i crumble completely when you cry by @todxrxki
- Kuroken fanart tag on Pixiv
- Childhood Kuroken fanart by 냄비 (/@neamvi)
- Childhood Kuroken fanart by Shiu (/@Shiupiku)
- Highschool Kuroken fanart by Auri (/@aurigae_arts)
- Highschool Kuroken fanart by サオ (/@Gpanda812)
- Highschool Kuroken fanart by 黒巻き (/@krmkhybk)
- Highschool Kuroken fanart by HDL (/@huangdanlan)
- Highschool Kuroken fanart by mookie (/@mookie000)
- Adult Kuroken fanart by bnk (/@hakiso_o)
- Adult Kuroken fanart by keki (/@rudecopper)
- Adult Kuroken fanart by 明 (/@MEIPiON)
- Adult Kuroken fanart by hebi (/@hebi86070749)
- From childhood to adults Kuroken fanart by yomshroom (/@nullseis)
- Fantasy AU Kuroken fanart by rono (/@rono08651059)
- Squid_Game AU Kuroken fanart by 커비 (/@kuby_HQ)
- Royalty AU Kuroken fanart by kanon (/@halfquaint)
- FMA AU Kuroken fanart by 빌공(/@yappdoll)
- Blossoms Entwined - a Kuroken Fanzine
- Kuroken Fic Quotes
- Incorrect Kuroken Quotes
- Kuroken Day 2022
- Kuroken Christmas Exchange 2021
- Kuroken Week 2021
- Kuroken works on the Archive of Our Own
- Kuroken Fic Recommendations on the Archive of Our Own
- Kuroken Starter Pack on the Archive of Our Own - for new readers
- Kuroken canon facts; aid for content creators
- Kuroken meta analysis collection; aid for content creators
- Haikyuu!! Tag on AO3. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- Tumblr Ask. Posted 18 Dec 2016. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- Haikyuu!! | Nekoma Team Cheer (we are blood that flows). Posted 28 Feb 2020. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- Kozume Kenma/Kuroo Tetsurou tag. Accessed 28 Dec 2021. The fic posted 1 Jul 1950 has been discounted as being incorrectly backdated for obvious reasons.
- ao3feed-kuroken. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- KuroKen AO3 Tag Sorted By Kudos. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- "KuroKen" Search. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- Works tagged with Kuroo and Ken. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- Akaashi Keiji/Bokuto Koutarou/Kozume Kenma/Kuroo Tetsurou tag. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- "KuroKen" Tag on Pixiv. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- "KenKuro" Tag on Pixiv. Accessed 28 Dec 2021.
- Twitter Search for "krkn". Accessed 28 Dec 2021.