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Hoshiai no Sora anime

Score: 7.62/10

Hoshiai no Sora

Eng Title : Stars Align

JP Title : 星合の空

Year : 2019

Genre : Drama, School, Slice of Life, Sports

Season : Fall 2019

Status : Complete

Rating : PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

Episodes : 12/12

Duration : 24 min. per ep.

Studios : 8bit

Synopsis

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.

Hoshiai no Sora could be a gem. I must admit that this series differs from other sports series thanks to its realistic setting and its themes. This series will talk about dysfunctional families, domestic abuses, difficulties about social pressure and also gender identity issues. For these reasons, Hoshiai no Sora can not leave you indifferent, whether you agree or not with the purpose of the anime, i think this show is at least thought-provoking Hoshiai no Sora is not really a typical sports anime. Sports is not the main theme but a way to develop characters, their interactions and their evolution. Anyway, Hoshiai doesn't follow the way of most sports shounen. No, there are no idealized dreams with characters wishing to achieve perfection and become the best in their sports. You will understand with the synopsis that Hoshiai doesn't have this intention. Unlike their female colleagues, the boys' soft tennis club fails to achieve positive results. Meanwhile, Maki Katsuragi, a new transfer student, shows great reflexes when he catches a stray cat. Toma Shinjou, the soft tennis club captain, realizes Maki's potential and asks him to join the club. Maki does not want to join any club but following repetitive requests, he accepts if Toma pays him for his participation and club expenses. Maki joins the club and finds that the members of the club aren't very motivated to work. The pairs are inefficient during games and the members don't have a good chemistry. Maki is completely inexperienced but learns very quickly. The other members are both surprised but also jealous and irritated by Maki's behavior. It is true that Maki is very frank and can seem abrupt. So he brings many changes to the club. He works mainly on strategy and observes his opponents to decide the best strategy, so he gradually gains consideration from his teammates. Regarding the other characters, most of them are highlighted and have a few important moments, whether during their club activity or outside of school. For the most part, they are at first very little motivated but gain confidence with the effectiveness of Maki's strategies. There are also characters that don't belong to the club and that get a significant screentime. The most memorable being Mitsue Kanako who is probably one of the most intriguing characters in this series. We don't really know why she assists the club without being a member (No, the manager is not a girl this time !) but you will regularly hear her edged comments throughout the series. We could quickly consider her as a creepy depressed girl but I can assure you that her development is just as interesting as her personality. This series also showcases their life outside the club. It was really nice to see the characters outside of the sports environment. Since they are not only people obsessed with sports, but like you and me, these characters also have the worries of everyday life. And I have to admit that even if the ideas are very interesting for the most part, their integration is not really satisfactory. Indeed, this series contains many, many dramas. There are so many that it becomes predictable. After half of the series, you quickly understand that each character will have his drama at some point in the series. Unfortunately, 12 episodes are not enough to develop dramas for all the characters in the best way. The storytelling is therefore awkward, we have the impression that the dramas follow one another without logical connection. The original creator, Akane Kazuki, seems to have written a story too long for 12 episodes. Thus we have a lot of dramas with no real resolution. For example, Maki's father, he was quite present at the start of the series. Shinjou even threatened him so we could expect a possible quick confrontation. I won't reveal to you but it is probably one of the most frustrating conclusions. And I can give you other similar examples with other characters. Some characters' backgrounds make feel me indifferent because the characters don't have a significant screentime. I don't have time to feel involved in fifteen characters' dramas in this series. And please, stop the post-ending drama scenes. Doing it once or twice can be surprising but it becomes too repetitive and they give the impression of cheap dramas. Hoshiai no Sora could be an excellent series but the drama was too excessive that I felt less and less involved. (Regarding the end, it is obvious that it gives up many subplots and the last drama is frustrating. I guess Akane Kazuki wanted more episodes but the production committees probably limited to 12 episodes.) Technically, we have a solid production. The most memorable point is probably the ending. The animation and the choreographies are fantastic (but please don't forget to warn the choreographers before using their works !). The animation of the series is excellent, especially on services and receptions during games. But I regret that we get little information regarding the ball directions, so it is not easy to understand the whole game. The soundtrack is a perfect accompaniment to dramas although my favorites are the piano songs. In the end, Hoshiai no Sora was a refreshing experience. Showing characters outside the sports setting allowed us to explore very interesting themes, but I would have liked to feel more interested in dramas which unfortunately are omnipresent and turn out to be more boring when you see that any secondary character from this series also has family problems. In 12 episodes, it wasn't enough to develop everything, the storytelling was over the top on the second part. If you want similar experiences, I would recommend that you read or watch works by Mitsuru Adachi that perfectly combine three genres: slice of life, drama and sports. Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru could also interest you. And if you are curious about gender identity issues, you can watch Hourou Musuko or read Shimanami Tasogare.

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