Hoshiai no Sora Episode 1 Review
Hoshiai no Sora featured in Fall 2019 Week 5 Roundup Post
Hoshiai no Sora featured in Fall 2019 Half-Time Post
Hoshiai no Sora Featured in Fall 2019 Week 8 Roundup Post
Hoshiai no Sora featured in Fall 2019 Week 9 Roundup Post
Hoshiai no Sora featured in Top Components & Moments of Anime in 2019 Post; Best in Dialogue (1st) and Best ED (1st)
Title: Hoshiai no Sora / Stars Align
Length: 12 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Drama, sports
Year of release: 2019
It’s no insult to the medium or those within them, but it’s rare to see an anime that feels particularly true to life. Hoshiai no Sora makes even those few seem like high fiction, as it quickly and effectively captures teenage angst with authenticity. Its script is blunt yet sensitive; its characters are full yet naive; its world is breathing yet crawling… despite being a slice-of-life anime setting, Hoshiai no Sora’s forte is in its atmosphere.
Due to some impressive hubris from Toma, the surprisingly athletic Maki is bribed to join the ailing soft tennis club in the hopes of winning 1 match at a tournament and escaping closure. While closure is often a sticking point for club anime, appealing to other member’s financial insecurity due to an abusive father… that’s not the norm. Not at all. Hoshiai no Sora sacrifices much of its time for episodically exploring its casts plights, and o boy do they have a lot of plights.
Despite the pacing rushing through some of the cast’s issues, the strongly crafted club atmosphere allows some really heartfelt moments. Often relying on Maki’s broad life experience, the cast will share their issues and find a communal sense of sympathy. It gives them the strength to overcome the trials and tribulations of abusive parents, traumatic pasts, fear of social outcasting and coming to terms with what their dreams demand. Sadly, some of the ideas come across as distinctly shocking, and the lack of rebuttal and convoluted scenarios can make scenes like Itsuki’s mother pouring boiling hot water on him as a baby come across as cheap and ends up defining its cast by their problems rather than as humans with experiences.
It really shouldn’t be underestimated how far a strong sense of reality goes, though. Maki quivering in fear in front of his father, or Toma’s mother’s gradual distancing, are scenes that stick out as some of the most tense moments from anime in 2019. On the other side, though, is the strength of its lighter moments, with Mitsue – a girl interested in the club’s antics – leading the charge through a sarcastic, but not overly smarts script that is brimming with charm.
Notice how little I’ve mentioned the tennis aspects? Well, frankly, Hoshiai no Sora could have picked many other vaguely competitive aspects to stick on top of its drama. While early scenes like Maki forcing different team combinations and the goofy duo who shout random idiocies to throw their far more experienced opponents off are great sporting sequences off the back of strong developments, the fact is that the series drags its feet through the latter series’ competition games with minimal tension and little urgency. It’s mildly enjoyable, but it feels like a B Plot that goes on too long. Despite some clear love of the tennis sport, as demonstrated through the emphasised animations and well-seasoned exposition, Hoshiai no Sora is not a show about tennis, and that mix-match of identity is equally as damning as its famously cut short duration which ends exactly 0 of its arcs. If a sequel ever comes, I’ll be looking forward to where its headed, but definitely not the culmination of its tennis tournament.