Lacking what is considered the most important asset in basketball, Sora Kurumatani has struggled with his short height since the inception of his love for the game. Despite missing this beneficial aspect, Sora's unwavering drive never allowed his small stature to dictate his ability to play, believing strongly in trying his hardest and persistently practicing to prove his capability. In hopes of satisfying his mother's wishes, Sora enters Kuzuryuu High School to become a member of the basketball club and compete wholeheartedly in tournaments. However, Sora is disappointed to find out that the boy's basketball team is nothing but a retreat for punks who have no interest in the sport. Sora also comes to learn that brothers Chiaki and Momoharu Hanazono—whom he becomes acquainted with—have also lost their once spirited motivation to play. Determined to revive the basketball team, Sora challenges the boys to a match against him, where his quick feet and swift movements overwhelm the group. Gradually affected by Sora's impressive skills, sheer effort, and tireless devotion to basketball, the boys unexpectedly find their burnt-out passion for the game rekindling once again. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
If you want me to treat your show favorably, an opening song by the pillows is a good place to start. Ahiru no Sora indeed opens on a jaunty rock song by one of my favorite Japanese bands, but fortunately, a strong musical score isn’t the only thing it has going for it. From its efficient storytelling and unique character designs to its fluid animation and likable protagonist, Ahiru no Sora confidently establishes itself as a strong sports contender for the fall season.
Even before that opening song, Ahiru no Sora already demonstrates unusually expressive character animation in its introduction of its diminutive yet basketball-loving protagonist, Sora Kurumatani. From there, it quickly establishes an odd friendship between him and the hulking Chiaki Honozanu, before confronting him with the familiar “the club you want to join has been overrun by delinquents’ dilemma. But Sora is determined, and with Chiaki as his reluctant quasi-ally, he forces a confrontation with the team’s thuggish leaders. And in the end, of course, the fate of the team comes down to a game of basketball, as Sora proves his height can actually be an asset on the court.
Though that whole description will likely feel familiar if you’ve watched more than a few sports anime, classic genre pieces like this are more about execution than innovation, and Ahiru no Sora delivers on all fronts there. Directed by Keizo Kusakawa, an old SHAFT mainstay who handled a great deal of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha franchise, Ahiru no Sora moves confidently and efficiently through its setup, while leaving just enough time to build some texture into the relationship between Sora and Chiaki. Though Sora is your usual bright-eyed, spiky-haired protagonist, this episode’s expressive character acting made it easy to relate to his feelings, while the uniquely angular and stereotypically “delinquent-esque” designs of his teammates made for plenty of fun expressions and dynamic closeups. On top of all that, the brief segment of actual basketball that ends this episode is genuinely thrilling, with the animation of Sora’s movement coming across as both fluid and clearly weighted, gracefully conveying his talent for the sport.
All in all, outside of one regrettable sequence featuring a peephole to the girl’s locker room, there was basically nothing I disliked about this episode, and plenty to enjoy. Ahiru no Sora isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it’s a very sturdy example of its genre, elevated through fluid animation, distinctive character art, and an excellent soundtrack. If you’re looking for a classic sports anime this season, Ahiru no Sora is a fine pick. You can also free Ahiru no Sora anime watch online and free download.