Oct 31, 2019
Krunchyman (All reviews)
Hoshiai no Sora (Stars Align) is a tennis based anime that may catch you by surprise. That’s because it takes a realistic approach towards competitive athletics, in ways that most shonen won’t accommodate. That’s not to say that shows like Haikyuu!! are bad — in fact, I rather enjoyed it — it’s just that they usually give the main protagonist a special advantage that would otherwise not exist in the real world. Also, the plot usually follows a predictable pattern, in which the team uplifts itself from obscurity to unquestioned greatness.

Hoshiai no Sora, on the other hand, gives the impression that this tennis team will improve over the course of twelve episodes, but will, most likely, experience more setbacks than victories. In addition, the characters are proving to be quite complex, with emotional, social and physical barriers that are hindering their forward progress.

Toma, for example, is struggling with his role as team captain, and can’t seem to motivate his teammate or get them to rally together. This is causing him a great deal of frustration and stress, which is leading to physical outbursts. Combine this with his poor relationship with his mother (who shows little-to-interest in him), and he’s an extremely troubled character. Maki is becoming overwhelmed by his responsibilities at home, and his abusive father is not making his life any easier (quite the opposite). That being said, his unwillingness to be a ‘loser,’ despite his difficulties is inspiring, but his lack of sensitivity towards his teammates ‘loser mindset’ is cause a rift in the soft tennis club.

As for the rest of the team, it seems as though many, if not all, of them are socially or emotionally oppressed individuals, that feel maligned by the other sports clubs, and student body as a whole. Thus far, their awkwardness and socially repressed personalities are realistic, and it will be interesting to see if they allow the ridicule of others to influence their behaviors, or if they’ll gain the self-confidence to blossom into self-confident individuals.

Hoshiai no Sora’s animation is simple. That is not meant to be disparaging, however. That’s because the animation beautiful compliments the solemn atmosphere of the show. Sometimes, a rich color palette can take the viewer out of the experience, preventing them from fully empathizing with the characters. But when the colors are muted, if you will, events seem more grounded, allowing the viewer to establish a deeper connection with the characters on screen.

Needless to say, I’m thoroughly enjoying the events of Hoshiai no Sora, and believe it’s the hidden gem of the 2019 fall season.