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In almost every sports anime, there would be a moment when the main character has some self-doubt about him/herself, especially if he/she is not gifted. Could simple hardwork surpasses talent? Is pouring that much effort only to receive harsh criticism, to be burdened emotionally for the loses worth it?

Of course not. It’s not worth it.

But why, why are others still trying that hard to win?

Their pride, their team or for their goals?

This was the question that drives every character to the answer that has always been laying inside their heart. Yes, their kokoro. And this holds true no matter how strong the characters are, how the sports vary in different anime. Because even if the circumstances of competition changes, even if the opponents are overwhelmingly powerful, and everyone is looking down on them, the characters refuse to stand down to the atmosphere. They refused to be changed.

This is what attracts me to Hoshai no Sora, or at least, the words on their poster did.

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” Even in an ever-changing world, only the starlit sky will not change. “

It’s a sentence that perfectly matches the name of the anime, and their background stories, their hardwork, their friendship, their goals, their willpower and their reasons to win. Because just like their life, soft tennis is not a game of luck and pure talent.

Hoshiai no Sora can focus solely on taking the competitive spirit and building up the enthusiasm from the start to the end. An ensemble characters that are unworthy and lazy, trained and motivated themselves to be better to an extent that none of them would have expected. Adding some preliminary matches, hardship, friendship and loses then we would have an exciting sports anime to look forward to.

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But, no. The story diverges from the main training and shounen plot into tackling issues that are actually happening but no one is comfortable enough to address them. Especially not in this kind of trope, as the situations involving the relatively darker side of other’s childhood is too disturbing for us to be bothered with. Even if it’s happening around the world. The feeling of watching as a bystander and not being able to do anything is simply too infuriating and to be frank, it just shows us how helpless they are, we are.
And, I’ve never been so amazed by how well this is all executed.

Rather than playing some sad backstory over slow piano sounds, it directly brings us closer to the characters through the way they see the world, how they have lived their entire life completely different than others and how they try to emerge from it. Overprotective parents, supportive parents, ignorant parents, aggressive parents and more are laid bare for us to see. To build that emotional attachment to each of the characters that can only be felt by truly understanding their life and witnessing their struggle.

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Then, the story further advances by adding in passion into the mix. Their hard work, their laughter and their frustrations are blended into the chance they have all created together. To make that ridiculed boy soft tennis club surpasses all understatement thrown at it. To acknowledge their rivals and improve beyond their own limits. To accept themselves as who they really are.

And evoking one of the most common emotion we all have – happiness. Because even in the gravest situations, they were never alone, as cliche as that be.

And when all is said and done, Hoshiai no Sora is like a dreamy story that has the burning fire a sports anime excels in creating, with a twist of realistic drama that keep you on the edge of the seat. It only marks the start of their journey, because as they struggle more and overcome more challenges, amazing things will happen ..

… as the Stars Align.