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  • [Fall 2019] Stars Align Discussion Thread

    Widgets Magazine
    星合の空

    A sports show about a boys trying to save a tennis club from shutting down, and to help their cause they recruit a transfer student who asks to get paid for playing due to his unfortunate family situation.

    Airs: Thursday, October 10, 2019

    Studio: 8-Bit

    ANN Entry
    My Anime List
    Official Site
    Funimation

    The teen adolescence story revolves around the coming-of-age of boys in a junior high school's soft tennis club, which is on the verge of shutting down. Touma Shinjou asks Maki Katsuragi to join the team for his vaunted abilities, and mentions a summer competition. Katsuragi asks for money in return for joining the team.

    Notes
    As usual, please try to follow these two easy forum courtesy habits when replying:
    1) If you're the first person to post about an episode in any given week, please indicate in the first line which episode you're posting about.
    2) If someone has already posted about an episode before you, please quote that post (or a relevant reply to that post), or include the episode title in the first line. ("Re: Episode 1") Just make sure the episode is indicated.

    For more guidelines please refer to this thread.
    MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
    Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
    Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
    The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

  • #2
    Episode 1

    Play for pay.

    So it begins with the boys tennis club being a bunch of suckers compared to the girls, and the student council president is so results-oriented that she's threatening to shut down the club should they not get any results. Thus, Toma goes searching desperately to recruit anyone with athletic ability. And they found one in Maki, but he would only join if he got paid seeing that he's spending all of his free time working to support his family because his father is such a dirtbag drinking and being so abusive. That ending there was well-executed there and certainly convinced me that this show was going to be good as Maki's situation is just so unfortunate. Seeing that this is directed by the same guy who did Escaflowne that I'm certainly on-board with this show after seeing the drama unfold the way it did. It certainly is one of the strongest first episodes of the season.

    So like always, trial period rules apply, but that's just a mere formality since I was eagerly anticipating this show because of Kazuki Akane, and so far he has does a great job in setting up Maki's complex characterization to build over the course of this show.
    MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
    Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
    Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
    The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

    Comment


    • #3
      Episode 2

      Getting down to practice.

      Maki is showing off his athleticism there as he kept up with Toma during the run, as well as his swings. He's a godsend to this club seeing that this school only plays doubles and Toma is the only good player while the rest of the boys in the club are so bad. So with Maki and Toma together, this club actually has a chance to make it big. It's a good thing that there's a restraining order in place as Maki's father is just bad news. Pretty nice way to build character since everybody's backs are against the wall, unlike during practice when they are facing it.
      MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
      Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
      Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
      The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

      Comment


      • #4
        Episode 3

        He's in hot water.

        While Maki is a newbie to soft tennis, he's already better than everybody except Toma as his reflexes are something else. Of course, he's struggling to hit balls directed at him, and getting hit by the ball (which is softer than a regular tennis ball, but getting hit by one still stings), drives home the point about hurting people with the focus on Itsuki, another victim of domestic abuse. Unlike with Maki, though, Itsuki's mother tried to kill him by pouring boiling water on him while he was an infant, and since then he has been scarred for life. And to add insult to injury, a couple of bullies point that out and that provoked him to smashing his racket on that guy's head. While his teammates approved of him striking back, they are none too pleased that he broke a racket to do so rather than his fist. It's no wonder why these boys are so bad as they are dealing with problems back at home that not only eats away at their practice time, but is making it hard to concentrate on improving their game. Toma better step it up as the leader seeing that Maki is counting on him to stay strong.
        MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
        Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
        Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
        The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

        Comment


        • #5
          Episode 4

          Patience, young grasshoppers.

          This was a pretty uplifting episode here as Maki makes an aggressive move to change the lineup identifying the strengths and weaknesses to help improve everybody's games, and it works. Instead of putting all the eggs in one basket, the team is more balanced from top to bottom. And now, they are getting ready to play a practice match against a powerhouse program as Maki sees this as an opportunity to learn from the best. But just when things were going great, that ending spoiled the mood as that no-good father of Maki's shows up again, and this time he smashes Maki's racket. He needs to get a life rather than to try and ruin one, and it's pretty clear that Kenji is bad news anytime he shows up.
          MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
          Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
          Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
          The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

          Comment


          • #6
            Episode 5

            Take the money and run.

            And Maki's poor excuse for a father shows up again, but this time Toma is there to let that jerk know that what he's doing is just wrong. A restraining order couldn't come soon enough, but it's good to see Toma standing up even if it means tossing some money towards him. Then there's the segment with the student council president as she's living in a wealthy family and seeing how those people are usually results-oriented that it's no wonder why she's so strict. And then there's the segment focused on Rintaro as at the very least he's living with parents that love him. Except that they are not his real parents as his birth was the result of a teen pregnancy, and seeing how his mother it totally unprepared to raise him that he was given for adoption. Upon learning the truth, he's trying to be the best he can and is down on himself. Rintaro is a smart guy, but he just needs to have a little bit more confidence. Another great episode here, though the placement of Kaori's background was awkwardly placed. Next time, the tennis club has its first game, a series of practice matches against the powerhouse tennis program's B team.
            MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
            Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
            Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
            The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

            Comment


            • #7
              Episode 6

              A test against the best.

              It's go-time for these boys as they are playing a practice match against the soft tennis juggernaut Misaki Academy. As expected, these boys are no match even against their B-team, but the boys are making progress seeing that each pair took at least one game, except for maybe Maki and Toma as he's up against the best of the second-years and Oji's serves just aren't meant to be returned. No parent drama this time around as it's all about improving their game and using these matches to figure out what they need to work on, which is just about everything.
              MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
              Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
              Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
              The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

              Comment


              • #8
                Episode 7

                Teamwork makes a difference.

                Oji and Sunaga looked unbeatable, but Toma noticed a critical weakness in that those two aren't playing as a team with Oji doing most of the work while Sunaga was just there to be a servant rather than a teammate. Using that to their advantage, Maki and Toma caught up and forced a decisive game 5 in which the winning point is set at 7 instead of 4, and lead by 2. It's during that final set that Oji and Sunaga finally start playing as a team, and what a difference that made as on that match-deciding play Oji and Sunaga would have collided, but they communicated and won. While the boys all went down in defeat, their play is encouraging that should help go a long way to improving their games. That is, if they are allowed to continue practicing seeing that one of the mothers is trying to force her son to give up tennis or something. That was another great episode there, and that BBQ pretty much sums up the progress the boys have made. But they still have quite a long road ahead of them, especially seeing that they are dealing with bad family situations on top of the pressure to win.
                MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
                Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
                Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
                The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Episode 8

                  Here's the scoop.

                  That was Nao's mother who launched that complaint to the principal, and because of that the club suspends practice for a week. Having nothing better to do they decide to get the scoop on Joy, the ace for their first opponent, and he's not easily approachable. So Maki and Yuta end up going trap to sneak a peak, and the operation is a success. They even manage to get one more practice match with the girls team agreeing to play them. And now some more parent drama as Yuta found out about the charade and is none too pleased about it. That was nice to see everybody getting together, but once more the bad parent strikes again.
                  MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
                  Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
                  Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
                  The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Episode 9

                    More than a slap in the wrist.

                    More family issues here as Nao's mother is really turning up the heat, all while Shingo's sister An comes to practice and goes missing right before the boys have their practice match against the girls in their final warmup before the tournament. But then things get really bad when Tsubasa's father hits him and causes him to fall down the staircase that causes him to injure his wrist, all because he's upset that he decided to play tennis instead of soccer. Things aren't looking good as now, the tennis club is down one guy thanks to yet another terrible parent creating unwarranted trouble. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out as these boys just keep on encountering more and more adversity.
                    MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
                    Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
                    Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
                    The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Episode 10

                      Continuity is key.

                      So with Tsubasa's wrist injury, Shingo decides to withdraw rather than pair up with somebody else nothing that it's too late in the game to make drastic changes. Likewise, Maki decides not to buy a new racket as it takes time to adjust to a new one. And then Kasuga lays down the conditions in that they only need one win in the tournament to keep the club going, which is going to be quite difficult as the boys are up against some elite players in the opening round. First up are Rintaro and Itsuki and while they won the first two sets, Rintaro's leg cramped up. Next are Nao and Taiyo and they used unorthodox tactics, but all that running around took its toll towards the end as they didn't put up a fight in the final set. And now, it's all on Maki and Toma to score a victory to keep the club going. That was a great episode there as there is not much parent drama here with the boys maintaining a positive attitude throughout this episode. Next time, Maki and Toma have a big match that they must win.
                      MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
                      Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
                      Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
                      The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Episode 11

                        Smash through to victory.

                        Maki and Toma are up against Joy and one other kid, and while Joy totally dominated early on, the two changed up their strategy by directing the ball to his partner that was just struggling and unlike the last time those two had a match like that, Joy continued to put on the solo act all the way through. So they have one win in the bag, enough to meet Kasuga's demands to keep the club going, but those two are looking to win it all. They take down their next two opponents with ease to set up the showdown with the Itsuse brothers, who have some history with Toma's older brother Ryoma. Looks like some of the parets are softening up as Nao's mother is at least letting go for now, all while Rintaro finally meets her biological mother. The outlook is quite different now that Maki and Toma broke through, while the other boys are good enough to hold their own, just not against elite competition.
                        MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
                        Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
                        Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
                        The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Episode 12 (Finale)

                          Back to reality.

                          As expected, Maki and Toma lose the deciding match to the Itsuse brothers, who are just on a whole different level, but they managed to force a deciding game 5, something that didn't look like was going to happen with them being shut out in the first two games. Maki and Toma switched roles to throw the brothers off their game, but once they calmed down, they finished the job. While that made for a feel-good story, what happens thereafter was just threw me in for a loop. As for why Toma's mother doesn't think highly of Toma, that's because she's getting divorced with Ryoma living with her while Toma lives with his father. And then Maki's family situation was just ugly as something bad happened to Maki's mother, and Maki decides to end this by killing his no-good father. That was such a dramatic turn of events there to end things as it goes to show the negative effects of having broken families, and that was on display.

                          In making sense of this ending, Kazuki Akane just tweeted that this show was originally going to be two cours long, but the production committee reduced it to just one cour at the last minute, so stay tuned for the possibility of a second season to see things through to the end.

                          Overall, this show does a great job with being much more than a sports show that focuses more on family drama than anything. The drama was well-executed, while the sport was used well to compare and contrast the life of the boys. This goes along with great animation and a stunning soundtrack. While it does a lot of the major aspects well, the one major issue this show has is that it tries to bite on more than it could chew with so many characters and backstories that couldn't be reasonably addressed in just one cour leaving to some of the characters being underdeveloped and some big things unresolved. In all, it's a well-written story that was very intriguing and never dull, though doing so while introducing too many things that couldn't possibly fit into one cour's worth of episodes.

                          MAL Rating:
                          MyAnimeList | Avatar: Echidna, Re:Zero
                          Watching: Gundam 00, Dorohedoro, Medaka Box, Golden Wind
                          Simulcasts: HZG, DKD, FRB, KGY, TOA-R, OGF, 8NT, ART, BNA, GLP. KKG, LSN, SKT, SBA, YFM, TOG, WLN, A3A, PCR, SHV
                          The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!

                          Comment

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