Yeah, I’m doing this again. My endgame kind of needs work though as I never really followed up what I felt about the Summer season by the time it was over. I’ll have to try and remedy that this season, in ten weeks time. Anyway, this is the first in a series of posts in which I use the general rule of thumb in that you can generally tell if a series is worth watching or not within the first three episodes.
I’m trying to broaden my pallet a little by giving a chance to the kind of shows I normally don’t care about; and this show is one that is way out of my wheelhouse. Shiru No Sora is a sports anime, one about basketball. So, not only is it a genre I have never really found myself drawn to in the past, it’s also focusing on a sport that I also have no real interest in. Way to throw myself in the deep end.
That being said, I know enough that in this genre, the actual sport being playing generally isn’t that important. Rather, they’re series about people sharing their passions, coming together and overcoming adversity and their personal shortcomings. A very apt description in this case, as out hero; Sora Kurumatani, arrives at a new high school with an unshakeable passion for basketball, despite being a total short-arse.
I was on the fence with this show during the first episode, but by the time I finished the third, it really did win me over. Sora’s perpetually enthusiastic attitude, combined with insane work rate is pretty meat and potatoes for a protagonist of this kind of series, what generally differs is whether or not the character is good at the sport or not. Sora is, very much so. His skills weren’t what really drew me in though, there were two major things that really got me interested. One is the animation when it comes to the basketball sequences.
Like Megolobox from last year, when the action starts, the animation seems to get a big shot in the arm. Despite knowing nothing about basketball, the moves Sora pulls off are suitably impressive. Although that’s probably in part due to the running commentary from everyone present, explains exactly why everything he is doing is so impressive. But this is anime, so I’m not going to pretend like that isn’t part and parcel of this genre.
Either way though, I don’t need to know the minutia of the rule book to see what him twisting people in knots on the court isn’t satisfying to watch.
The other aspect of the show I’m invested in is the character of Momoharu.
When Sora arrives at his new school, he finds that boy’s basketball team are bunch of delinquents who use their club membership as an excuse to avoid work. The leader of which is the blond, pompadour’d Moroharu, who through the course of the first three episodes is revealed to have had a passion for the game in the past, but lost it when he got cut from his middle school team. Something that shook him, as he was cut despite practising harder than anyone else.
Underdog stories are the blueprint for pretty much every sports story ever told, but it continues to work. Everybody constantly underestimating Sora due to his height is used to great effect, and seeing him consistently show people up despite that is just satisfying on a base level. But Momoharu finding some passion for the game again almost right after meeting Sora already has me more interested to see where his story goes, as Sora doesn’t seem like a character that has much of an arc to have right now in terms of his personality.
Even though it’s already pretty obvious that Momo is playing in the wrong position or something when we see him jump in the air like a thousand feet, I am still looking forwarding to see his turn around. How Sora’s infectious passion for the game brings him, and the rest of the team together. And each one will get their own bird metaphor based on what aspect of the game they excel at. It’s like a sports based avian Jojo’s stand.
While these two characters have been the main focus of the first three episodes, there is a wider cast I’m interested in learning about also, including Momo’s elder afro’d brother Chiaki, who seems to be fulfilling the role of both a villain and a point of support for Sora and his brother. He’s an interesting character, although I get the feeling his strange personality and superhuman strength are really only there to be played for laughs. In the end I think he’ll be the pillar of emotional support for the rest of the cast.
Verdict: I want to keep watching
It was only towards the end of the second episode that I started getting invested in these characters. It helps that the animation is silky and fluid, but honestly, I am more interested in the stories of the supporting characters than the main one. Sora’s main obstacle is his height. Something he’s only ever going to learn to deal with, personality wise, he’s a adorable little buttercup. And so far he just seems like the catalyst to help the rest of the cast grow and develop rather than be the focus of the series itself.
Seeing the delinquents go from being angry, troubled teens into finding something they’re passionate towards is a story I want to see told. Sora bringing these hapless tough guys together and making them all into something greater than the sum of their parts already looks to be on the cards, and once we get into the inevitable tournament setting, I can tell my hype is going to really go through the roof.
Whether we get sweet victory or the bittersweet taste proving they can go the distance is what remains to be seen.