Does Effort Matter?
There’s some interesting messaging coming across this week in Stars Align. Whether it is the student council disparaging the last ditch efforts of the boys to not be disbanded summing them up as useless people or the adviser who gave up on winning as a goal, it all seems counter-intuitive to a sports anime. Weirder still when Maki changes the pairings and each pair gets better seemingly making the statement that they could have put all the effort in the world in before but they still weren’t going to win.
However, it is a nice change up from characters who are all effort and determination but no tactics or plan. The boys would never have noticed the difference changing partners made if they hadn’t been putting in some effort recently and so the combination of their effort and some strategic revisions gave them a boost which in turn inspired more effort and more improvement. Of course, how sustainable this current enthusiasm is could be called into question as their adviser, also inspired by their actions, organised a practice match against another school that is almost sure to throttle them.
We could also discuss Maki’s underhandedness in proving his point about the pairs when he didn’t go all out against the new groups allowing them to all narrowly win. Though that seemed like a fairly standard move from his character at this point as he seems to be the ‘whatever it takes’ kind of person and took the appropriate course of action.
In contrast to all the tennis playing, team building, confidence boosting moments under clear blue skies, we have Maki’s home life. While his connections with the friends at school continue to grow and we see a mid-episode happy moment where the friends have joined Maki for dinner again and his mum arrives and everything is all smiles, the post credits scene brings the darkness lurking behind Maki and his mother’s current life back into focus.
While I’m enjoying the tennis side of this story enough, I think I’d really like to see the story of Maki’s home-life get some kind of resolution by the end of this season. Screen time on that side of the story is limited, but that’s all it needs to be. The sudden intrusions of Maki’s father (I guess) are short but violent and leave a huge impact. The fact that most of the scenes come at the ends of episodes means it is what the audience is left with as they walk away from the episode. So yeah, it would be nice to see the story progress and reach some kind of resolution throughout the season.
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Reviewing all the drama in Stars Align.
Images from: Hoshiai no Sora. Dir. K Akane. 8Bit. 2019.