Hoshiai no Sora – 02 (Second Impressions)

A sport’a anime’s second episode typically has three goals: introduce each character on the team, demonstrate the protagonist’s value to that team, and explain how the sport works to the viewer. In this regard, Hoshiai no Sora sticks to the script by showing Maki dominate the twenty lap test and rapidly pick pick up the basic tennis swings. And those swings are demonstrated with delicate slow animation. It’s informative, engrossing, high quality fair.

But Stars Align earns another must watch rating because it tackles bullying, homosexuality, child abuse (and how everyone can be oblivious to the warning signs), and the desperate situation an abused spouse must deal with behind the scenes. It tackles each of these points without pretension or being over the top and just wow. This show does not disappoint!

Hoshiai no Sora – 01 (First Impressions)

After smacking him to the ground, Maki’s father delivers a rib-shattering kick to his teen son for good measure. Maki crawls to the corner of his apartment’s brightly lit living room and curls into a shivering ball. His father takes all the money, almost laughing, and walks away. Some time later, Maki silently finishes dinner for himself and his hard working single mother.

Hoshiai no Sora is a well drawn sports anime about a loser tennis club, a transfer student with epic reflexes, and a team captain who must win the summer tournament or lose his club funding. From garden gnomes in front lawns, to heavy-set female characters, its world is richly detailed and lived-in and the people living in it have much more going on than you may first suspect. This show is the true dark horse of Fall Season.

Sabagebu! – 10

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Momoka discovers an old treasure map, while desperately searching for money in her room. Totally broke, she hatches a plan: spin the treasure map as a jumping off point for an adventure and maybe, just maybe, Miou will cover the travel expenses for what Momoka believes will only be a handful of childhood allowance yen.

The plan works and then they jump out of a plane!

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Team Survival dashes about Momoka’s old town behind a pair of dowsing rods. Unfortunately, the rods work too well and anything of value attracts their attention. Even wealthy women’s faces, which surely cost a fortunate to make!

Then the team bumps into the Yakuza!

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But it’s okay! The Yakuza give the girls a ride to Momoka’s old house where they discover the treasure is an old poem from a purer hearted Momoka, who asks her future self to cherish friendships above money.

Kaya is moved by the letter and shares her own childhood poem, which Momoka mocks horribly before being shot to death. (end act 1)

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The papers are a buzz with rumors a national idol has gone missing! However, she’s just hiding at the survival clubhouse and has gotten fat.

Then she learns self reliance from Momoka, through Momoka’s grande speech about brutal self centeredness. Then she loses her excess weight and crushes the boy who scorned her. (end act act 2)

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“Oh! Maya died first again!”

The girls crash land in the jungle on their way to a survival game but fins themselves hunted by a quirky-but-deadly adversary who appears to dress his victims in ‘little mouse girl suits’ after shooting them to death.

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In classic predator fashion, the attacker is invisible and has a shoulder mounted energy weapon. Fear not! Momoka betrays all her friends and ultimately takes down the alien, who appears to be a cute’ish cat creature. Then Momoka is congratulated by an alien elder for being so devious and cold hearted… which results in the elder’s short life.

Then Kaya, who we assumed was dead earlier, shoots Momoka and the girls regroup in a hotspring… only to be ambushed by ALIEN style aliens! (end act 3. end episode)

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As should be obvious by the lengthy synopsis, this week’s episode was was packed with content and I can not begin to do it justice. In simple terms, Sabagebu! number ten is totally bonkers, has three totally unrelated acts that are each completely all over the place and the whole thing was excruciatingly funny!

From Momoka’s regular penchant for betrayal to Miou’s new found understanding that Momoka is actually, entirely, an awful human being, to Kaya finally getting the upper hand against Momoka (twice!) the show balances expectation with satisfaction. Kaya’s revenge in particular feels great, considering how often Momoka has dodge the bullet earlier in the season.

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From None of the elderly residents at Momoka’s old house caring (or objecting) to the invasion of teen girls to the cat-predator silhoette looking enough like Sally-Sensei to fake me out, this week’s little details were spot on too.

That’s it! I can’t hold it back anymore! Well Done Sabagebu! This week you’re getting a…

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