Let’s See What They’ve Got
I was not really looking forward to this episode given last week’s introduction of the champion school kind of didn’t do much to make me excited for it (dread it maybe). In fairness to my own opinion from episode 5, the competitor’s students were as awful as I expected in terms of characterisation. What I didn’t anticipate was how nice it would be seeing the team we’ve been following come together and even though they aren’t triumphing they are at least putting on a decent show.
There’s something about the way the various pairs bounce off of one another and it is a nice follow up from Maki reorganising the pairs to allow each of the players to maximise their potential. it feels like there’s some meaningful development for these boys rather than just trying hard. Also, while they are a team, there’s more focus on the pairs within the team rather than the team as a whole which makes it feel a bit different from a lot of other sports anime where everyone has to pull together.
The other aspect that was great about this episode was the pace. We moved through three and a half matches in the space of twenty minutes but it never felt rushed. We got a feel for the game and the players as well as their strategy and weakness before getting the highlights of the match and then the next one started. No one overstayed their welcome and it didn’t feel like someone was asking me to actually sit through a whole tennis tournament which is something I dislike about a lot of sports anime when they linger too long on a single game.
However, it isn’t perfect and the lack of reasonable personalities from the opposition really does hurt. Every single player is cocky and rude to the other school rather than supportive. It would have been nice if they’d slowed down and only shown us two and a half matches and actually spent some time making these opponents more than just obstacles to learn from. That could have really elevated this episode from good to great.
Be that as it may, the other thing that was a bit different this week is we put the domestic situations for all the characters on hold. This episode focused entirely in on soft-tennis and did a pretty good job of it. It will be interesting to see the conclusion to the match they are currently playing and what happens next, next week.
Reviewing all the drama in Stars Align.
Images from: Hoshiai no Sora. Dir. K Akane. 8Bit. 2019.