Ahiru no Sora – Episode 50 [Final Impressions]

Oh, this episode was super charming. It was really nice to see a wide range of moments within this episode and I think it really provided a very solid ending for the series. It’s the sort of vague ending where I can accept that this was in fact the final episode, or that it could potentially lead into a second season. If we do get a second season though… I don’t know if it will be anytime soon.

I’m really happy with the amount of reflection this episode provided in addition to having a lot of the characters strive to move forward. We’ve hit a lot of figurative roadblocks, especially since Yuka’s death, but it’s nice to see everyone start to move forward. Madoka’s moment was, at least for me, a bit harder to see her moving forward. I think that’s because she seemed to peel away from the main story a while ago. I personally don’t really have any feelings towards the guy she was on a date with, but I do appreciate that he was able to say that she was carrying some “baggage”. It’s something we’ve known for a while, but it was nice to hear someone acknowledge it though. I don’t know how I feel about the kiss though – especially since we don’t really know what came out of it. What sorts of things are you thinking about Madoka? Even when we see her at the beach scene, there isn’t any conversation about what happened that day (aside from acknowledging the loss). Which is fine, but I’d feel a little bit bad for Momoharu and Sora if they start pursuing a taken girl. And on that note, I think she was the perfect character to deliver the untangling of knots (except for the one that remains) line, since everyone else has honestly been pretty vocal about their feelings. They’ve all been laid out on the table. Whereas Madoka has kept them relatively quiet to herself.

A few episodes ago, I think I talked about how Kuzuryu High’s team probably wouldn’t accept the result of the game if they won, because of the incredible gap that was between them and Taiei. But on the other hand, it is also understandable that they would feel hesitant for establishing their clique after the “devastating” performance they gave and I genuinely thought that there would be more pushback against Momoharu and that they really wouldn’t accept the result. But I’m happy we were able to avoid it when Sora spoke up saying he would take any chance that he would get. Even though everyone’s upset and wants to continue to punish themselves, he’s able to maintain that focus on being able to play the game. He’s upset just like everyone else, but he continues his drive to move forward.

It a little weird, I’ve really felt like we haven’t had a lot of focus with Momoharu since he cut his hair (of course, like with everyone we have gotten small moments here and there that further develop him), so to have a solid amount of focus on him was unexpected. I was pleasantly surprised to see him so much in this episode. I’m glad that he and Madoka were able to clear the air a little bit. Well… they didn’t really talk it out, but at least they reached a conclusion where he doesn’t feel too guilty about it. And then we have focus again on Momoharu when Mr. Satsuki announces his return as their advisor. Of course, he did this for the whole team and of course it impacted all of them, but I liked the moment where he put his hand on Momoharu’s shoulder while he was crying. Especially after Satsuki had the conversation about returning with his wife. He started out as their advisor because he was supposedly the strictest teacher and to keep an eye on them, but now he genuinely wants to support and help these kids grow up and help them achieve their goals. I don’t know if I can fully articulate it, but I’m happy it was included in the episode!!

Lastly, I want to talk about the short segments we had from all the other teams that Kuzuryu faced off against in this season. Most recently we have Taiei who are shown to be continuing with training with Yozan, Mineta, and even Fuwa all vow to get stronger in their own way. Then we have Chiba and Takehashi with their post-match conversation, an attempt to make sure that Chiba, does not give up on playing Basketball. He returns to Shinmaruko High and keeps on going! And lastly there’s Taro and Kitasumi, where their coach is planning to retire pretty soon, we haven’t seen too much from them since their loss against Taiei so it’s nice to see them wanting to strive even higher, both for redemption, but also for their coach! I just really appreciate that we didn’t just abandon all these other teams once we had finished playing them. I’m genuinely excited for Kuzuryu to potentially have rematches with all of these teams and see how much they all have grown!

I knew it’s been coming for a while, but for this to actually be the last episode is incredible. I’ve watched this team grow for the past year, and the series has been a good point of consistency for me. Aside from breaks between cours, I always knew that there would be a new episode around the corner. I’m not expecting another season of this series, and if we got one, I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to switch studios. But if we do get an announcement, I will be very hyped for it.


Final Impressions

When Ahiru no Sora was first announced for the Fall 2019 season, I wasn’t immediately grabbed by it. I thought it would be a pretty average sports series and at the time I remember I almost passed on it entirely because of the rougher art style. When the first episode came out, I don’t actually think I was planning to write a first impression, but something kept calling me back to it. I told myself to give it a chance and that I could always drop it later on, especially when I found out that it was going to be 50 episodes. But boy am I glad that I kept up with it. It was so much more than I expected and I’m glad that I didn’t decide to pass on this series.

The anime is rough around the edges, in more ways than one. It’s not the most fluid or consistent and the pacing? Well, it’s not for everyone. If you’ve seen other people talk about this series, a lot of watchers have complained about the animation, or the lack thereof, often calling many of the matches slideshows. And I don’t really disagree with them. I don’t know what budget they had or what time constraint they were under, but there were some episodes that… probably had more stillness than actual animation. As for the pacing, well games do last for a significant number of episodes – which honestly, is kind of expected for a sports anime. But to spend multiple episodes in the span of only a couple in game minutes can be incredibly frustrating if you are here for the sports aspect of the show. It feels like you’re getting stopped every time you take a step forward and then you have to stand still before you can move forward again. So, I can definitely understand why a lot of people probably dropped early on.

But! It isn’t as if we’re frozen in time without any progression. In fact, I would argue that a great deal of character development occurs during these moments. Yes, it is frustrating to be pulled between the two, but I feel that the characters really drive this series. They are consistently growing and becoming more complex. We’re given a set of delinquents who, in the beginning weren’t… exactly shown to be the best and a bright-eyed Freshman looking to pursue his dream. And overtime we get to learn more about these characters and what drove them to the way they are now. Not everyone became the way they were because of bad experiences or desires to not have bad experiences with Basketball. But, over time they all come together and grow because of the sport and quite frankly, I’m a sucker for stuff like that. You take a motley set of characters and allow them opportunity to grow and find passion again and personally, I think that’s a recipe for a solid story. And their growth is not always moving in the positive direction. There are plenty of setbacks and mistakes that characters make. They aren’t always on the path to move forward to accomplish their goals. They do fall by the wayside. They aren’t prefect characters, they are also rough around the edges, but that’s part of what makes them charming. All the characters really bring this series together.

I’ve gone back and forth about giving this series a numerical rating, but I think I’ve settled on giving it a 7.5/10. I thoroughly enjoyed coming back to this series week after week and despite its weaknesses and frustrations, there was always something interesting, exciting, or emotional to see. Sure, some episodes were more disappointing than others, but when looking at the series as a whole I genuinely enjoyed my time with it. It really bums me out that there aren’t official English translations of the manga out there, but I will definitely be supporting the series any way that I can. And as a side note, the music is also very good! Every time a new cour would come I would be sad that we wouldn’t hear the current opening and ending again, but from “Happy Go Ducky” to “Taiyou Runner” they didn’t disappoint. So that’s another reason why you should check out this series.

I would strongly recommend this series to anyone who is even remotely interested. Please take a chance on it and I promise there is so much more to it than what it looks like. Yes, there are disappointments in production value and content, but it also makes all the more exciting when good things happen. If you want to watch a team start from nothing, find rock bottom, and grow again  Kuzuryu High’s Boys’ Basketball team is a perfect choice.

Quietcupcake

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

3 thoughts on “Ahiru no Sora – Episode 50 [Final Impressions]

  1. So…this is the end? Such strange and sad feelings indeed to have watched these kids evolved during one year. But, one fun fact is I don’t think people realized that in the manga timeline, only…3-4 months have passed (this is beginning of August Holidays as stated at the beach). So, as I said last week, I was aware of what’s coming when they are putting in order the chairs (one year ago, I though that it would stop there) but since two weeks, I didn’t know which direction which would be taken. Now, I must say that I am quite satisfied with that “semi-original” ending (explanation later on).

    First, let’s tackle of course the muse of our internet sexists, my beloved Madoka! As I told you few weeks ago, no season 2 will frustrate people as she has the most incomplete story-line if they stopped there. Here we are…what is in her mind? Should I answer? XD. Thing is, if people were paying attention to what she thought after Sora claimed that he wants to get stronger, they may partially understand (No internet! she’s NOT in love with him facepalm). But again, to me, she’s the best-written character of the manga (again, not my favorite. Even though my favorite who has not been introduced has a link with Madoka).

    Now, why “semi-original”? Well because starting from the beach, every thing that we see are…really in the manga…but things have been skipped, told differently, inverted. But, this is not a criticism. That was actually the reason why I couldn’t understand how they would end there. Because for instance, when they go the beach, this is also for training on the sand in the evening.
    Same goes for Mr Satsuki meeting the boys. In the manga, that scene comes after the beginning of a new arc (that “subtle” poster at the end) and new characters. But I perfectly understand why they did it and it was a nice choice for an ending. I am actually always emotional every time I read it (even though as the author is silly, there’s a “gag” in the manga as Chiaki & cie pose for taking a pic of Momoharu holding his tears XD). And that Sora’s mom bracelet…what can I say…this is such an emotional reveal in the manga (yeah, this is a totally different scene/moment).

    Okay, I am sorry for talking too much about the manga. So, what more can I say? I am happy you appreciated the series. Thank you for having blogged it and NOT dropped it (like many other people). I still think that this is a series which people will appreciate more if they binge it as I can understand people being surprised by the narration style. Especially in that “fast food” era.

    Actually, do not know if you noticed that at a moment, the change in the storytelling compared to classical sport series is stronger. I say that because that is really the case. I mean, I don’t know if you are familiar with manga industry, but authors for popular Magazines do not have a lot of freedom at the beginning, especially if they are young or failed before. That was the case for Takeshi Hinata whose first series bombed hard and it was kind of his last chance. So the beginning (let’s say, until the end of Shinmaruko game) juggles between what the author was trying to convey and the “usual” tropes (the genius Chiaki, Sora being a 3 pt magician, yankee comedy, etc.). But as the commercial success was established, he got more freedom for telling what he wanted (Toby, but also Mokichi, emphasis on training, and so on…), or even latter on stopping to draw illustration covers since volume 35 to emphasize one of the series’ messages: “not judging by the cover/looks” (https://kc.kodansha.co.jp/product?item=0000017454)

    So, I hope that you managed to convince some acquaintances to watch it. Me, I am happy that few more people in France discovered that the manga was published XD. I will also certainly buy the English blu-rays.

    I will end on a question: what would be you three (or more if you want) best moments of the show? And bonus question: in the first sketches of the manga, when the author was thinking about a new series, a main character was not planned…could you guess which one? (yeah, that question is for giving me an opportunity to write a reply again XD).

  2. I knew it wasn’t that long that actually passed within that course of the year, but I am still surprised to hear that only 3-4 months have passed. It makes sense, but it’s still surprising haha. Also, I’m happy that you’re satisfied with the ending that they were able to give! I feel like the whole team realized they had a pretty tough order for this episode.

    Yeah!! What is on Madoka’s mind? Where is she at right now and how is she doing. Her date is over and we get to see her again at the beach scene but it feels incomplete. I can see why people are frustrated because they think her “side-story” is completely irrelevant to the main story. But I really wish people would have given her more of a chance instead of just reducing her to love interest.

    Taking into account the anime onlys and people who read the manga, I think this was probably one of the better options that they could have chosen. As you mentioned, there was this limbo about where everything would end because they were leading towards a spot that wouldn’t be a good place to end. So by adding in all of these segments it provided enough satisfaction for everyone involved. Of course, I would have liked to see the full segments, but I’m still content that we got to see it at all. The bracelet moment actually caught me off guard when they showed it because I was really trying to remember when he received the bracelet from his mom. Initially it was Madoka who was supposed to give it to him, but she ended up returning it to Yuka. Also bummed that we didn’t get that moment, but it still ended up being a “aw :’) he has the bracelet” moment in the end. And regarding that subtle “Monster Bash” poster – was that technically going to be the next arc if the anime continued? Or was that something later down the line?

    It was my pleasure to blog the series! I haven’t experienced anything like this before and I thoroughly appreciate the amount of care that went into to developing the story and the characters. Of course there are always improvements that could be made, but they really took the time to animate the story. It absolutely wouldn’t have been the same if they tried to turn it into a condensed series.

    Ah! I’m not as familiar with the manga industry so thank you for sharing the information! I figure that new series would either have to be outstanding from the get go or follow the tropes in order to gain readers. I didn’t know it was actually that strict. I honestly can’t say if I noticed the particular moment of change, but looking back on it, I would say that I noticed a difference in how the Shinmaruko game played out as opposed to the ones that came after. I’m glad that the creator was able to take more freedoms! And tell such an great and enjoyable story. Also opting to stop drawing illustrated cover is pretty intense, I’m interested to know if manga readers were surprised by that change! At first glance I’d mistake it for a novel adaption instead!

    Oh man, three top moments in the show is a tough one. In no particular order, I want to give tons of appreciation towards the Shinjo Towa game, Kite’s introduction to the team and back story, and probably Momoharu’s attempts to atone for what had happened to their club room (still bummed about all the missed Yasuhara moments though…). I know those are some pretty big ranges, but those are probably the ones that stood out the most to me as a whole, but of course there were smaller moments that I appreciated as well. I am interested to hear what your thoughts are too!

    Oh! A main character that wasn’t initially planned? Honestly, I have no idea, but if I had to give a guess I would either say Mokichi or Nao. Question for you! Was this unplanned main character entirely unplanned? Or were they planned to be a different way, but evolved overtime before they were added in?

  3. So, (if I take in reverse order), the unplanned character was…Sora! Yeah yeah. So I precise that I mean during the early sketches, when the author was thinking about doing another series. Actually, you can see the pics (and even a little bonus that I added for showing you that there are still at least one leftover scene of the opening…) here: https://goopics.net/a/gTfZ5hhO

    As you can see, by unplanned, I was talking about not at all. Because as you rightfully asked, many of the other characters had different name, styles, etc. (look how Chiaki was “thinner”, Mokichi had glasses, Toby was supposed to be a rival for instance). But for Sora, the author said that he really started from scratch with a step by step, trial and corrections process. BTW, Nao was the first character “created” and was even supposed to be the twin sister of Sora (we know who became the “twins”). And talking about unplanned things, Tokiwa was absolutely not supposed to be so present in the manga. On that matter, the author (unfortunately) associates Shinmaruko to his period of doubts, due in part to what I said (the beginning, his last chance to succeed, lack of freedom etc.)

    Three top moments…So, for sure the transition between the moment when Mokichi finishes his duel with Sora and faces his senpai under the rain. In a whole, I adore the Mokichi introduction arc as I think that this a character that many could relate to even outside of sports. Of course, Sora and his mom moment in the hospital (and that episode 33/Volume 12 in a whole XD). And finally I will say Momoharu in that last episode with Mr Satsuki. I mean, this is always “funny” to compare Momoharu in the earlier episodes with now. That guy became (and will continue to be) such a role model.

    The “Monster bash” is an arc which starts immediately after the beach in the manga. I mean, after the beach, Nao wants to multiply practice games in order to follow the advice of Sakamaki. But not being an official club, this is difficult. And due to some events and encounters, Sora and Mokichi will hear about that tournament even opened to amateurs. And then, that is the moment when Mr Satsuki comes back to them as supervisor in order to help them with “administrative tasks”. So, in other words, in that episode, all the scenes after the beach are part of the “Monster bash” arc but if there is a season 2 one day, they will be obliged to do a kind of flashback of at least 1-2 episodes.

    Finally, holy Madoka. What can I say without spoilering… I mean, one of the main topic of “Ahiru no Sora” is “failures and fresh starts” (stated by the author himself in a preface). Madoka is wondering if she should continue to run on that “straight road” or if her choice to stop and doing something else is the right one. One problem: there’s that little boy who’s losing games after games, lost his mother (that Madoka admires) BUT that little boy (Sora) continues to say he wants to get stronger, that he will win next time! That’s the reason why she had that strange thought about “Sora being further and further from her” and she has no clear ideas about what is the “right” thing to do. I mean, as I told you, in the manga, the boys are at the beach for also training during the evening and at that moment you can see that Madoka thinks about how she’s kind of “jealous”. But who knows…maybe she will make a “fresh start” too. But which one…XD

    OK. Sorry again for these long replies, especially when I can imagine how the beginning of that new anime season is heavy. I hope to have the opportunity to share again, even on another show (maybe maybe maybe Taisou Samurai. And I promised to not talk about Ahiru no Sora there. LOL)

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