Never Give Up, Never Surrender
While episode 5 felt like it was crawling along, episode 6, despite being the end of the game and dragging out that final stretch of the game for most the episode, actually felt like it kept moving along. Part of the reason for that was the focus shifted away from just defending Sora to the various other team members and their attempts to contribute, and then Chiaki threw his hat in the ring and it changed the dynamic of the game enough that the final five minutes felt fairly fresh despite being the same game.
With the focus coming back onto the characters though the whole thing became more enjoyable. Sora’s trust in his teammates as well as the resilience they all had not to just call it quite despite being so far down in the score carried the episode along nicely. If we add in Chiaki tossing a bench at the hecklers (rightfully so after they littered on the court leading to Sora getting a light injury that was never mentioned again) then there’s more than enough highlights to keep episode 6 from feeling like the slog episode 5 felt like.
Episode 7 then is a far more logistical situation with the basketball team realising that without an actual adviser or being rostered on to the court, they can’t actually train on the courts. They even address the fact that up until now they have been playing on the court. It might be cheap drama, particularly with the principal’s condition of not getting into any more fights or the team will be disbanded, but in the context of Ahiru no Sora it feels more like a logical issue to face given the team members and not a tacked on bit of drama for the sake of it.
There’s also a lot of backstory about Sora and his mother as Sora’s grandmother gives Madoka a hair cut and fills in the details – except of course the condition that keeps Sora’s mother hospitalised. I love how they never name these mysterious illnesses that keep people sitting up in hospital beds but unable to leave and be with family.
Anyway, this one is clearly still kicking along and while I’m not a massive fan of it due to my own personal tastes, it is functional and seems to be getting better as it goes, or at least the supporting cast are less intolerable as it goes. I could take or leave the basketball at this point and it would be nice to see a little more animation going on during the game but overall it is perfectly watchable and those who like the cast or the sport more are more likely to be enjoying this outright.
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Images from: Ahiru no Sora. Dir. K Kusakawa. Diomeda. 2019.