With a new anime season just starting, there's a plethora of new shows to catch up on. Hoshiai No Sora wasn't a show that was on my radar, because to be honest high school sports anime are hardly really my thing. Watching a show about high schoolers being really really passionate about sports just isn't relatable to me. But I was bored, so I just decided "why not?" after seeing a few recommendations. And boy, am I glad I decided to check this show out.
We start off the story in a pretty typical fashion: there's a boys soft tennis club and they suck, plain and simple. They're overshadowed by the amazing girls' team, most of the members don't take tennis seriously or are just plain bad at it, and the club captain grows increasingly annoyed at their own incompetence. When the school president decides a new rule is to give club fundings based on effort, the boys tennis club is in danger of being disbanded if they can't win a game.
Enter: Maki Katsuragi, the show's protagonist and new exchange student. After witnessing his lightning fast reflexes, Toma Shingo, the club captain, decides he needs Maki on his team if they want any chance to win a game. Maki eventually agrees on some conditions and that's the basic premise of the show.
So what makes this show different from other high school sports anime? Well, let's just say it's only been three episodes and the show has already touched on topics such as homophobia, child abuse, bullying, gay crushes, and violence. By the end of episode 1, you suddenly understand that this isn't your typical feel good show about the power of friendship and love of sports bringing people together. The show is about tennis, yes, but what the show really is about is these kids and their struggles at school and their home lives.
And man, this show goes to some really dark places that leaves viewers unsettled and unsure of what to expect next. You'll have one scene of kids being kids and bonding over school activities, and the next scene you'll be on the edge of your seat at the unsettling things these kids are going through.
The brilliance of Hoshiai No Sora is that these moments don't feel cheap or edgy. These are real issues that real teenagers experience, from experiencing bullying for being a loner to having emotionally and physically abusive parents, each characters' issues feels real and informs the way they behave and react to certain situations. What's appealing about this show is that the characters feel like actual people with struggles and doubts and anxieties.
If you like sports anime/ slice of life (or even if you don't, to be honest) and you can handle some pretty heavy subjects, Hoshiai No Sora is definitely an anime to check out. With it's beautiful score, stunning animation, and great cast of characters, it's definitely the best underrated anime of this season for me.
tl/dr: Hoshiai No Sora is a high school sports anime that touches on some pretty dark topics in a fairly realistic manner. It balances kids being kids and enjoying their sports club with some unsettling plotlines about their home lives really well. It's also available to watch on Hulu, with new episodes coming out every Thursday.