Ahiru no Sora – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

And so Fall 2019 begins.

Perhaps overwhelmingly so in fact. Seriously, before the weekend started, there was already like eight shows to watch. This season sure means business. It only bothers me because I really want to be on top of seasonal watching again and a hectic start on weekdays a.k.a. workdays doesn’t help. Alas, it is what it is and I nevertheless went into binge mode this weekend (at least I dragged my brother into the rabbit hole with me).

Ahiru no Sora is the first premiere I checked out and it’s fine for what it is. Bear in mind, sports anime aren’t really my cup of tea, even if it’s about sports that I do like watching such as basketball (which is the case with Ahiru). Even that aside though, I felt this anime was very typical. The most obvious sign is the protagonist, Sora Kurumatani (Yuki Kaji). He’s very much the passionate underdog archetype that sports anime has invoked countless times. Even him having a height problem or being incredibly talented at misdirecting plays is something that’s been done in sports anime before, regardless of if basketball is the featured sport.

There are some things that stood out to me though. For one, there’s a notable and promising inclusion of female characters in this story as we’re introduced to the girls’ basketball club, especially its star player, Madoka Yabuchi (always great to hear Sayaka Senbongi). Maybe the staff shouldn’t have started with a peeping scene but it feels very intentional for them to involve the girls’ club when this anime is obviously about the boys. I also have a hard time buying that Madoka is simply going to be Sora’s love interest. You can probably do something more interesting with her like have her help Sora train the boys’ club.

If anyone stands out though, it’s the presumed deuteragonist, Chiaki Hanazono (Katsuyuki Konishi). Everyone in the boys’ club appears to start off as a delinquent which isn’t anything particular new; plenty of sports anime have done this routine before. Chiaki meanwhile is an outlier in the bunch; he’s more indifferent about basketball and is just too lazy to learn to rules of the game. That he’s curious of Sora’s determination to play could make for an interesting way he comes around to playing the sport.

The only aspect that really feels like a deterrent is the art direction. Maybe anime has clouded my eyes with so much bishounen and moe but I really can’t help but find Ahiru a rather ugly anime to look at it. The color palette is a bit on the saturated side and while the boys look their parts, there’s a huge disconnect when you consider that they’re supposed to be in high school. I’m aware that the age of anime characters is asynchronous with their physical appearance but you really can’t convince that those delinquents are in high school. Chiaki particularly looks like he should be in college. On the flipside, the animation looks pretty fluid when basketball is happening so budget doesn’t seem to be a concern right now (this is Diomedea we’re talking about).

Will be I be watching Ahiru no Sora? It’s hard to say right now. I’d say I’m largely indifferent about this show but it’s not like I dislike it or anything. It seems perfectly competent in the writing department and while I’m not a fan of how the show looks, that’s almost never a motivation I have when I drop something. That said, I have heard that this anime is going to air for a whole year and I’ll admit that it kind of turns me away. I mean, lately, I’ve been struggling enough with keeping up with single cour shows. Four cours sounds like a nightmare right now. We’ll see; I can at the very least see myself keeping on eye on what others think of this show.

Thanks for reading!

Watch Ahiru no Sora on Crunchyroll & HIDIVE.

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