Oh man, oh man, oh man. We got a lot of set up in this episode and some actual sports! I’ll just be honest straight out of the gate – this wasn’t my favorite episode. It was probably necessary in terms of set up, but it really emphasized just how many loose ends there are and while I have no doubt that Hoshiai no Sora can produce absolutely amazing content in the span of one episode… I’m feeling like they bit a little more off than they could chew. We only have two episodes left, and in this episode alone they opened new cans of worms for existing stories, so I’m worried that the ending will ultimately be disappointing. But I mean, I really can’t predict how anything will play out, so maybe the anime will surprise us all and all come together in the end.(Or who knows, maybe they’ll surprise us with a second season?)
When I say there’s been a lot of set up, I say that we get bits and pieces of drama, but nothing that really caused any issues. We revisit Rintaro’s conflict with his adoption, which is honestly something that I’m really happy about. Since his episode early on I felt that there wasn’t very much closure and the fact that it was never brought up again was always something in the back of my mind. I was genuinely worried for Rintaro! But as with many of these kids, the struggles they face are brought to light, but then immediately pushed back into the shadows. And so, having his adoptive parents come in and talk about his birth mother felt really… disjointed. I would have loved to see something like back in the earlier episodes! But they’ve just presented the idea we have no idea what it’s going to mean for Rintaro for the rest of the anime. I mean – during his match I thought his performance had to do something with the news they told him! But no! It was just a cramp! (Not that I blame him though, I got a Charley Horse this morning and just walking around all day has been a bit of a struggle.) But I think what bothered me the most, was that it wasn’t brought up again in the rest of the episode. I mean, it certainly gives suspense, but there were at least 3 other sequences that gave us suspense! At this point I don’t even know what to get invested in!
In addition to Rintaro, they also briefly touch upon how Mitsue is doing with her new art direction. Needless to say her fans are not big fans of sport drawings. It definitely shows the struggle of using the internet for validation, but what else are they planning to do with it? It happens and it’s not going well for Mitsue… so what happens next? (Also, we really never got to the bottom of why Mistue doesn’t like to eat at home? Where are her parents?) Lastly, we finally revisit Toma and his issues as home. I’m really not too sure how to classify Toma’s personal conflict – on the one hand I want to call it and inferiority complex but on the other I feel like it might be anger management. He doesn’t fully fit into one of those buckets so I’m not really sure how to feel about Toma as a whole. In some episodes he’s really been an MVP! But others, he’s just >:( and that’s it. With his brother talking about Maki constantly and his mother straight up saying that she didn’t want to have him and that it was all his older brother’s fault just makes me really confused. What is happening? I feel like they introduced too much and I just can’t keep it all straight.
But aside from these re-visitations, we actually get to see some more soft tennis action! Of course, it wouldn’t be a sports anime if you didn’t meet the top tier players: the Itsuse twins. And quite frankly they know how to push all the right buttons they just go right for the things that’ll hurt the most. Middle Schoolers really are vicious. We don’t get to see them play in this episode, but our eligible teams (everyone minus Shingo and Tsubasa due to the incident last episode) really shine! Rintaro and Itsuki really hold their own in the beginning and while they didn’t have a whole lot of screen time, you could definitely tell how much their bond and confidence has grown! But I think the real stars of the episode were Nao and Taiyo. At the beginning of the episode they had absolutely no confidence in themselves, but they really held their own during the match. They’re unconventional play style really gave them the upper hand. I must admit, I was having quite a bit of fun watching their match! And despite the vast improvements of the team the end results are definitely going to take a toll on Toma in the next episode. I can just feel it in my bones that we’ll have a lot drama to cover in the next episode.
In addition to the familial drama, the student council president makes her grand reappearance. I don’t really know what the point was of having her approach the team. At first, I thought it was going to be a haughty, “Don’t bother trying, no one can improve that much in two months” but it was a very… impartial conversation. Sure, she said somethings that would push buttons. But it all felt really weird, so I’m not too sure where they were planning to go with it. If any of you have thoughts, please let me know! But on a more positive note, we got to meet Taiyo’s parents, and they seem super supportive almost to a fault, but it’s still a little refreshing compared to some of the other parent’s we’ve seen in the anime. It was just your classic parents who really love their kid to a fault type trope. And I mean, of course Taiyo wouldn’t want them to come! They’re bit overbearing and overprotective. But hey! At least they were there for him!
Overall, I would say that not too much happened in this episode. Like I mentioned in the beginning it was just set-up and actual sports. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The heavy focus on the match was honestly what I expected this whole anime to be about – so I guess in that way, the anime did meet my expectations haha. I’m interested to see how the anime will continue the narrative in the next episode, but we’re probably due for a pretty big drama bomb next week. I’m still hopeful that they’ll manage to tie up everything nicely! And I’m really thankful that we got to hear the full version of the Ending theme! It’s quickly becoming one of my favorites to listen to!