Ahiru no Sora – Episode 31

This episode felt like it had a slow start, but quickly built up the excitement as we touched up on all our characters. By the end of the episode, I became incredibly pumped for the final minute of the game (I mean, overtime is still possibility, but) it feels like we are nearing the end of this very intense match! For this episode, I was particularly fond of how we started out talking about the necessity of stamina, something that has been prevalent in the more recent episodes and how that slowly evolved into passions, desires, and dreams expressed in the various things that the characters want to protect.

Every week, I find myself sitting here thinking about the newest episode and it really amazes me just how much content we are able to fit into each episode. Sometimes it’s hit or miss with how something is implemented or how much focus it gets, but I really do appreciate that we don’t always get a “one and done” situation, instead things that continuously build upon each other giving us a lot more depth. I enjoyed the interaction between Kite and Kojima early in the episode. It not only touched upon the topic of stamina, but it very subtly let us know that you cannot really judge a person’s history, which is nice to see especially with Kashiwagi’s back story. Everyone thinks that Kite thinks that he’s too cool, too good for everyone else. And with his skills, I can’t really blame him. But to have Kojima call him out for the lack of stamina for not going to practice in middle school for a self-absorbed reason only to have it turn back around to Kite’s sister, was honestly a solid moment. Of our main 5, I find myself forgetting about Kite’s origins more often than I would like to admit, which is strange because I enjoyed his introduction and back story. But since it’s not always at the forefront of his actions I find that the moments calling back to his family are pretty impactful. I really like the dynamic character motivations this series provides and it’s just as exciting to see how each character acts upon them!

Circling back to Kashiwagi, I thought it was a little weird that his back story was split up into two episodes, but looking back on it, it was probably for the better. It was nice to sit with what we had learned this week and timing wise; I don’t know if it would have done justice finishing it out in last week’s episode. I thought I was satisfied with what we got last week for him but seeing a little bit more of his connection with Takahashi, just before his free throws just made me want to cheer him on! “A hopeless punk” like him was able to find something to be passionate about in Basketball, thanks to the kindness (obliviousness?) of the captain. Even though it went by quickly, it still brought a smile to my face. I also like that a similar sentiment was brought up with Chucky and Nabe. They aren’t necessarily emulating anyone, in fact out of everyone one the court, they probably cared the least about the sport to begin with. There aren’t dark pasts or major obstacles to overcome, like most of our main cast, but instead they were still able to find something they are willing to put their time into and officially pursue their passion. And while they are reduced to comedic characters, being able to look at their perspective is fantastic! Personally, I feel that it is a unique perspective that isn’t often explored.

Turning our attention to our protagonist, I was really surprised that he actually collapsed from exhaustion. I know stamina was a big focus recently, but I honestly expected him to persevere through the odds and do the impossible. And yet, I’m glad that he didn’t. It’s a bummer that he had to be taken off the court when the end of the game was their reach, but if he hadn’t collapsed we wouldn’t have gotten Yuka and Madoka’s interaction, which I think impacted me more, than just Sora saying he has to work harder. Having Yuka outright say that Sora can’t just do what everyone else does really shows just how much of an uphill battle he’s fighting. If he wants to keep playing and prove himself, he must put in a lot more work because he does not have height. (From the same interaction we get an invitation for Yuka to become a coach, which I thought was nice, but I don’t know if I have too much to say on that yet). And the best part is the sentiment that Sora must work harder doesn’t stop there, it continues on the bench with Mokichi which was a pretty phenomenal interaction.

Understandably, Sora is beating himself over his inability to stay in the game and he begins spiraling down the “if only” path. He doesn’t feel as if he can stand out on the court like he wants to, he doesn’t necessarily have the skills that he wants as a player and is instead jealous of his teammates. And I think out of all the teammates, I’m glad that Mokichi was the one on the bench with him to combat those thoughts. Mokichi’s relationship, like the other’s is complicated, but he was a person who was put into a box. He fit the criteria and so he was stuck there, no opportunity to try something else. Yeah, his height is helpful, but it really locks you in to what kind of player you can be. And so, it was nice to see how that translated into potential for Sora. Sora doesn’t have to fight against a box instead there are many ways he can shine on the court.

All in all, when I look back on this episode it really grew on me and I thoroughly appreciated the heavy focus on passion and dreams. It really does go to show you that they all have something to protect :^). It doesn’t necessarily need to be a person, or a thing, but there is something that they’ve found through the sport that brings back hope for the players. It stresses me out knowing that we are nearing the end of this match, because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this arc. Even so I’m absolutely pumped for next week’s episode!

Quietcupcake

I live up to my username, but I hope we can be friends!

3 thoughts on “Ahiru no Sora – Episode 31

  1. Hello there! Yeah, there was a lot to digest this time! And rightly so, as they were still ahead of their “usual” pace, but that time I have been able to guess where they would stop and I have been so satisfied by that end. Once again, the lyrics of that ending have been written for that show and the staff member who had that idea to make the transition between Yuka’s words and the song, got a wonderful idea.

    Regarding the title and central theme of that episode, actually the thing is that since, let’s say when Mokichi has been benched last episode, all the chapters adapted now were named by the author “what must be protected” (part 1, part 2, and so on). So yeah, that is the theme of the moment and as you said, at first you think only about the score as thing to protect and then he shows you that there is so much more to protect. I told you, we entered an intense phase!

    Yeah, about Kashiwagi, when I said last time that it was short but there was a reason, that is indeed due to the fact that as they accelerated the pace since last episode, his “background” looks split. Talking about that background, I have a personal fun story at the end.

    Talking about Sora, I always liked the fact that throughout the game and as pointing out again here, there were many actions where his height has been used as a liability by the opponent team. I am not one to overrate “foreshadowing”, but I like how we are reminded the fact he noticed that and affected by that. About the rest of the boys, well I adore Chiaki’s speech and regarding the pictures shown during that speech, you may have noticed something that we sometimes forget regarding Yasuhara. As you said during the training camp arc, Yasu is the most invested among the three newbies, but Yasu practiced karate at high level, so that may explain his investment.

    So, coming back to Kashiwagi flash-back, I remember how I was so impressed that the author used that for paying his own homage to “Slam Dunk” of Takehiko Inoue. I mean, of course the fact that Inoue handles his own intellectual property facilitates it, but how many authors would have taken the initiative to write about their own inspiration, and from a rival publisher! And the funny story is, being more a football guy(or soccer if you prefer) because of my background, me too when I read “Slam Dunk”, I regretted to have never played basket-ball! LOL.

    And funny again, as I read “Slam Dunk” quite late (for different reasons), I was still buying it when “Ahiru no Sora” publication started in France and so “Slam Dunk” (the resulting basket-ball appetite) made me buy “Ahiru no Sora”. Two things that I will never regret (also as their tone are complementary)…

    1. The transition from Yuka’s final comments into the end of the episode was really wonderful! I know that they are probably going to change both the opening and ending at least one more time before the end and I’m really going to miss the pair that we have at this time 🙁

      Yeah! I’m consistently surprised how well they tie things back to the characters and their own stories rather than pulling the “all we need is to keep the score” and leave it that. And to do it for more than just the main characters really adds significant depth to the story! I know a lot of people have been saying that this match has been dragging on for too long, but now that it seems we’re close to the end I can’t believe we’re almost done. I agree with your comments on Sora – it’s something that is consistently brought up by other players, but aside from his actions we haven’t fully had a chance for him to verbally express his feelings towards it. It was nice to hear him express his feelings around it. I did notice that we didn’t really get something for Yasu, but seeing the flashback to karate was nice. He’s an interesting character because he started out as part of the delinquent gang with Chucky and Nabe (and though those two are different people they really are a pair), but slowly separated out because he became more invested than the other two. He doesn’t quite fit into either of the two groups, but I appreciate that he definitely helps to build a connection between the two groups.

      Personally, I haven’t read “Slam Dunk”, but I did appreciate the homage to it. And from the comments that I’ve seen around a lot of others were pretty happy with it. I’m definitely interested in picking up the manga to see how the two compliment each other 😀

  2. People complaining? What a surprise…XD (I am ironic, I saw it too). More seriously, as I like to say, that is because people watch it with their “regular spokon goggles” on and for me who’s a huge fan of sport manga, I can understand their trouble, but that is because…how can I say that…they are misinterpreting that manga (sorry of ot may sound arrogant. Lol).

    And that actually brings me back to what I was saying by complementary, regarding Slam Dunk. On that matter, you should really take a look at it later. This a fantastic, classic, mythical manga (yeah I recommend the manga, not the anime) but:

    1/ You should be tolerant with the art at the beginning of the series. Because that is the one of the best demonstration of “art improvement with experience” that I have ever seen. Between the first volumes, then let’s say volume 8 and then the last volumes, Inoue’s art improved like passing from milky way to 10 other galaxies (and no, I am not overrating it).

    2/ This is very very basket-ball heavy at a moment. And that is a bit where I say that “Ahiru no Sora” is kind of complementary. And also what people are unfortunately not used to. And that is amplified by the fact that the beginning of “Ahiru no Sora” is a bit similar (some characters, at least) to “Slam Dunk”, while they are not intending to tell the same story.

    And actually, I am sure that the weekly format does not suit “Ahiru no Sora” as the mix of deep backstories (also during games, which people are not used to), tension, lot of talks can be frustrating. In particular in that era of binge-watching & cliffhangers.

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