Constantly outperformed by the girls' club, the boys' soft tennis club faces disbandment due to their poor skills and lack of positive results in matches. In desperate need of members, Toma Shinjou is looking to recruit capable players, but he fails to scout anyone. Enter Maki Katsuragi, a new transfer student who demonstrates great reflexes when he catches a stray cat in his classroom, instantly capturing Toma's attention. With his interest piqued, Toma ambitiously asks Maki to join the boys' team but is quickly rejected, as Maki doesn't wish to join any clubs. Toma refuses to back down and ends up persuading Maki—only under the condition that Toma will pay him for his participation and cover other club expenses. As Maki joins the team, his incredible form and quick learning allow him to immediately outshine the rest of the team. Although this gives rise to conflict among the boys, Maki challenges and pushes his fellow team members to not only keep up with his seemingly natural talent, but also drive them to devote themselves to the game they once neglected. This story focuses on the potential of the boys' soft tennis club and their discovery of their own capability, while also enduring personal hardships and dealing with the darker side of growing up in middle school. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
As an anime-original production written and directed by Kazuki Akane, the director of Escaflowne and Noein, I had high hopes for Stars Align entering this season – particularly after witnessing its gorgeous trailer, which was absolutely brimming with expressive, charming character animation. Having seen this first episode, I am happy to report that Hoshiai no Sora is easily the best-animated premiere of the season so far, and is also setting itself up to be the season’s premiere character drama. If you have any affection whatsoever for stories about characters struggling through the infinite conflicts of daily life, Stars Align demands your attention.
It’s hard to know where to start when describing this show’s visual effect, since its strengths all work in such effortless unison. The character animation is likely its most immediate and striking feature; every single character in this premiere is enlivened through charming yet realistic and smartly observed animation, all their personalities and relationships with others clear in their physical presence. Conversations between groups of characters are never still affairs here; characters don’t just accompany their own statements with physical embellishment, they consistently move and react to each other, creating a perpetually convincing impression of adolescent life as it is truly experienced. When a given character is made uncomfortable by another’s entrance, you can absolutely tell; when they’re comfortable and in their element, their personalities bloom in the fullness of their physical self-expression.
Stars Align’s method of conveying information and drama purely through animation extends beyond its conversations and character acting. The practice tennis match this episode makes it abundantly clear exactly who on the boys’ team is genuinely dedicated to play, entirely through the passion and anger of their movements. You can really feel both the pride and bitterness of team captain Toma in his movements on the court; meanwhile, the joy that transfer student Maki feels in running and physical exertion is captured with equal grace, through a combination of jubilant animation, inviting color work, and the sunny guitar melody in the background.
As I said, no single strength of Stars Align’s aesthetic stands alone. This episode is confidently paced throughout, and holds its cuts for just long enough to let their emotional impact land. The layouts are always beautiful and often rich in emotional intent, with characters’ feelings regularly echoed through the sharp angles of their portrayal, their positioning relative to others, or a given scene’s overall lighting. Scenes of camaraderie at school are conveyed through intimate shots that take tremendous advantage of the show’s background animation, making for a stark contrast with each protagonist’s unhappy home life.
That leads us to another of this episode’s strengths – its lightly illustrated yet truly biting family drama. Stars Align isn’t one of those sports dramas where the central sport also feels like the center of each character’s universe – it’s a character-first story, and the surrounding substance of Toma and Maki’s lives directly informs their relationship with tennis. Both Toma and Maki are suffering through unhappy conditions at home, circumstances this episode conveys with unflinching clarity. But through capturing the full context of Toma and Maki’s lives, Stars Align is better able to illustrate what this sport and this team might mean to both of them: community, pride, and maybe even purpose. The beauty of Stars Align’s communal character animation feels even more significant in the context of the darkness each of these boys are shouldering; the freedom and joy of creating your own community, captured entirely through animation.
From its direction to its lighting to its sound design to its scripting, this would be an excellent premiere even if it weren’t so beautifully animated. Toss in that fluidity as well, and you end up with what is very likely the strongest premiere of the season. If Stars Align can somehow maintain its remarkable visual strengths, it could easily be one of the year’s best shows. You can also free anime Hoshiai no Sora watch online and free download anime in this site.