Quick reminder to vote for the best anime of 2019.
The Fun Before The Fall
This definitely feels like a penultimate episode rather than a final one. While the tournament comes to a spectacular close for the Maki/Toma duo the final minutes of this episode will crush any feel-good and warm or fuzzy sense you may have been left with. As the series as a whole has been, this final episode uses whip-lash changes in tone to really drive its emotional notes in like a dagger to the heart and then twists. It works despite the contrived nature, but it isn’t the best way for a final episode to go out when there’s no certainty of a continuation.
As has been the trend throughout the whole series as well, the opponents in the game remain a fairly weak link. Like pretty much every other pair the boys have faced off against, these two start strong, get a little bit thrown by unconventional tactics (or in some cases just tactics) and their game disintegrates. The only difference in this case is these two have sufficient experience and ability to pull out of the funk and return to their style of game before the end. However it isn’t even vaguely good characterisation and with every opponent feeling identical but in a different uniform it takes a lot of the fun out of the games, which if this anime was relying on the sport aspect to be the draw would be a killer.
Fortunately the team we’ve been following all along are quite decent characters despite the limited development time given the number of them and the short episode count. While they’ve certainly taken some short cuts in fleshing these characters out by this final episode we have a pretty good understanding of what is making each of them tick and we’ve seen them work together to overcome a lot.
But then the match ends and for three of our characters we see their home life dramas continue and escalate before the episode comes to a dramatic and unfulfilling close. Of course it is another cheap ploy to make us want a sequel and it works. Even knowing exactly what they were doing I still felt a real desire for the sequel to get green lit and for these characters to return.
While there’s a myriad of issues in the presentation of Stars Align, this is an anime that I feel was worth watching this season. Certainly aspects could have been more nuanced but really the moments of gold within it were definitely worth watching for. I’ll get to a full series review soon but for now I’m just happy that I picked this one up at the start of the season.
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Reviewing all the drama in Stars Align.
Images from: Hoshiai no Sora. Dir. K Akane. 8Bit. 2019.