So Much Baggage
The first half of episode 5 of Stars Align was very nicely done. While it was playing Maki’s home-life tragedy a little thickly, the subject matter kind of warrants it and it didn’t feel like they were pandering but more trying to really create empathy for his character and what he was going through. The scene with Maki and Shinjo in the classroom gave us plenty of distant shots making the two seem very small and the slow way Maki spoke about what was happening using disconnected sentences really just worked.
Even the sequence where Maki’s father is getting closer to the apartment with its many fades to black disconnecting each action was pretty affective. Up to this point the episode was actually doing a really solid job with its tone as it wasn’t so over the top and in your face that it was eye-roll worthy and yet they weren’t letting you ignore what they were talking about.
However, it all kind of goes downhill once they confront the father as Shinjo’s un-thought out and fairly childish plans and declarations kind of break the tension of the moment. It is actually believable given his personality up to this point but it was still like seeing the glass shatter after it had been falling in slow motion. Where the first part of this episode was one where you held your breath and waited, now it was all kind of done and mentally as a viewer you just kind of moved on.
Which would be fine if what we moved on to could hold a candle to those opening scenes but at the mid-point we get some of the homelife of the student council president and honestly I just didn’t care. She’s such a non-character and her desire to wipe out a club feels so shallow and nothing in this sequence made me want to take her any more seriously. Nor did the vice-president of the tennis-club’s woes when he had his freak out as we began closing in on the practice match. While I appreciate that all of these characters have stuff going on in their lives, if they are taking such a tokenistic approach, I’d rather they just didn’t tell us the details and let us focus in on the couple of characters that they are actually exploring properly.
But the worst of the episode came after the credits where they meet the school for the practice match. Honestly, there’s enough tension already in this set up. The boys are only just getting motivated and gaining some confidence and they are very likely about to get wiped out. There’s no reason to introduce a rival character, or any character really. The other school literally doesn’t matter in this instance other than that they are champions and better. However, here we have a character delivering a line so toxically bad it shot any of those feelings the first half of the episode had made me feel right in the leg and to be honest actually made me question whether I cared what happened next episode at all.
At this point I still think Stars Align has something to offer as a sports anime and character piece. I just don’t know that it is going to end up doing it well enough for anyone to remember it after it finishes airing.
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Reviewing all the drama in Stars Align.
Images from: Hoshiai no Sora. Dir. K Akane. 8Bit. 2019.