Abuse, Gender Identity, Overprotective Parents, Step-Parents, Missing Siblings, Pursuing Dreams, oh, and Tennis
It is a shame that Stars Align isn’t good enough to actually solidly recommend to people. It has a lot to say on a lot of issues and each one, by itself, is actually dealt with in a respectful, is slightly heavy-handed, manner. Episode 8’s conversation between two boys about one of them having issues with his gender identity while they got ready to dress up as girls to spy on the competition was very nicely done and a scene that could inherently be taken as a joke and played for laughs, or miss the mark of how confusing it can be for someone undecided about their gender, actually came together nicely.
The problem comes from the fact that this scenes comes on the back of seeing another child being micro-managed and manipulated by his mother to the point where it is most definitely emotional abuse and is followed up with a scene of another character wanting to pursue their passion for art despite a disagreeing parent. All of this careens into episode 9 where we have a boy clearly not accepted by his step-mum, a missing younger sister, a lie from a member of the club and another abusive parent who after striking his kid actually causes him to fall down the stairs and break his arm.
Not one of the above scenes is badly done. Each one feels like someone really wanted to highlight an issue that someone in this age range might be facing. However, it is a lot and it is incredibly cluttered with no time for the weight of one emotional moment to settle before we’re seeing the next crisis. The overall problem then is that by episode 9, when you enter any of the kid’s houses you are literally just waiting to find out what shitty situation they are in that they can’t escape from. The end result is emotional fatigue and an unwillingness to really invest in the next situation because the last one still hasn’t been dealt with (or even had time to be digested), nor was the one before that and so on.
The team are certainly in a dire position after these two episodes though. The players are coming unwound emotionally as all of them have their home situations more or less imploding around them and it isn’t just the student council willing their club to cease to exist at this point. There’s plenty bubbling away here and the interactions between the club members themselves remains a highlight but it just feels like they’ve seriously over-reached here.
I still think Stars Align has been an interesting viewing experience and it is one I’m glad I picked up. The back and forth between the sporting aspects and the emotional drama aspects have ensured that you haven’t had time to be bored even if the transitions haven’t been handled the best. Overall, this one could have been better but I’m still keen to see how it ends.
Reviewing all the drama in Stars Align.
Images from: Hoshiai no Sora. Dir. K Akane. 8Bit. 2019.