Stars Align Director Offers Sequel Update
Director Akane Kazuki confirms that he still has plans to continue his sports anime Stars Align, despite its ill-timed cancellation.
There are still plans to continue Stars Align.
Clarifying his previous statement that there were "no plans to produce more episodes" after the scrapped episode 13, director Akane Kazuki tweeted, "I'm very sorry to say that I still haven't found a production company or a company willing to fund the production of the sequel to 'Stars Align.' Therefore, I have not been able to gather the animators to produce 'Stars Align.' However, I am preparing to make episodes 13 to 24 someday."
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Kazuki denied the rumor that there was a movie being developed that would conclude the show's story and further explained the nature of the Stars Align Special Fan Movie, a short released on YouTube in May 2020. The short showed the anime's various characters, now in high school, two years after the finale of the anime's first season. Kazuki explained that the fan movie was "made up of scenes taken from the scenario of episode 13" and answered, "Why did the story suddenly start two years later, and what happened to the story of Maki and Toma that was directly connected to episode 12? I plan to make it so that you can understand it when you watch the completed episode 13."
While production on the anime has come to a halt because of a lack of funding, based on these tweets, Kazuki clearly still plans to complete the anime's story and even has some unused animation and material from later episodes at the ready.
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Directed by Akane Kazuki of TheVision of Escaflowne fame, the 2019 sports anime Stars Align (Hoshiai no Sora) was a cult favorite series with a significant overseas fanbase. The anime was originally supposed to run for 24 episodes, so when the network canceled the series 12 episodes in, confused fans spent over a year waiting to see if the series would ever be completed.
Stars Align is an original sports anime about a boys' soft tennis team. The series centers on Maki, a child from a broken and abusive home, who joins tennis enthusiast Toma and enlivens his school's declining soft tennis club. Although a sports anime, Stars Align was equally a coming of age drama about each of the boys' personal lives. The series accrued a notable cult following, particularly overseas in North America, and its cancellation, which came after a very dark cliffhanger, has been long lamented by its fans.
6 Anime That Were Huge DisappointmentsAbout The Author
Lydia LiVecchi is a Canadian-based writer, editor, and story-telling enthusiast. She has a Masters Degree in English Literature and now works as an anime news writer for CBR. Her greatest dream is to become a Mario Tennis pro. Talk to her about sports anime @LillyLi97 on Twitter.
The series focuses on a middle school’s boys’ soft tennis club, which is soon due to be disbanded. We follow the boys as they grow and experience life together through all the things that happen while playing tennis in their club.
Original Character Design
Animation Character Design, Animation Director
- Airing Date
- October 2019
- Fall 2019
- Theme Songs
Opening: Suisou (Fish Tank) by Megumi Nakajima
- Official Site
Stars Align is the indie darling of the most recent anime season: a slice-of-life sports drama about a middle school tennis club that quickly gained attention for focusing on issues rarely discussed in such a grounded setting — particularly its inclusion of two sensitively written trans characters (one nonbinary, one a trans man). Week after week, the show paired the team’s journey to win just one match and prevent their club from being disbanded with glimpses into the boys’ home lives, which often revealed the many faces of parental abuse, from neglect and physical abuse to controlling helicopter parenting.
That’s not to say the show is relentlessly bleak, as its sometimes painfully earnest monologues are balanced with keenly-written scenes of goofy adolescent awkwardness. But it is the kind of show that knows its own relevance and is willing to drag important topics into the light even if it means being as blunt as a two-by-four.
Stars Align just feels like something special. The series initially drew in viewers with its big-name director Kazuki Akane, best known in the US for 90s fantasy mecha series The Vision of Escaflowne. But it kept them hooked with its emotional rawness and beautiful tennis sequences. It’s the kind of show that might look a little dated in a decade, but it hardly matters because of the difference it can make for viewers and media right now. It’s also, unfortunately, literally only half of the story.
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Allegedly, Stars Align was originally planned to run for 24 episodes. Mere months before it was meant to air, that number was cut in half, leaving the creative team with a choice: they could either severely hack down the story to fit it into 12 episodes, as there was no time to retool from the ground up, or they could go ahead with what they’d initially planned and end at the story’s midpoint. They chose the latter, ending with the team having technically accomplished its “win one game” goal but with many, many unresolved familiar subplots and a brutal cliffhanger in the last few minutes.
As it stands, that’s the end. Stars Align is an anime original, meaning there’s no novel or manga viewers can pick up to see how things turn out. But the creative team is currently fighting to get the story out in some form or other, with the official Twitter gathering reactions through the end of the year to try and gauge support for the series and hopefully get it the finale it so richly deserves. But even as it stands, I can’t say I regretted investing in it for a moment.
Hoshiai no Sora
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English: Stars Align
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 11, 2019 to Dec 27, 2019
Broadcast: Fridays at 01:58 (JST)
Producers:TBS, Movic, Magic Capsule, flying DOG
Genres:DramaDrama, Slice of LifeSlice of Life, SportsSports
Duration: 24 min. per ep.
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
1 indicates a weighted score.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.
Official Site, AnimeDB, AnimeNewsNetwork, Wikipedia
Constantly outperformed by the girls' club, the boys' soft tennis club faces disbandment due to their poor skills and lack of positive results in matches. In desperate need of members, Toma Shinjou is looking to recruit capable players, but he fails to scout anyone. Enter Maki Katsuragi, a new transfer student who demonstrates great reflexes when he catches a stray cat in his classroom, instantly capturing Toma's attention. With his interest piqued, Toma ambitiously asks Maki to join the boys' team but is quickly rejected, as Maki doesn't wish to join any clubs. Toma refuses to back down and ends up persuading Maki—only under the condition that Toma will pay him for his participation and cover other club expenses.
Characters & Voice Actors
In the recent past, there have been an influx of media portraying stories in which the characters tackle social issues, some successful, some unsuccessful. Most of them do invoke some sort of emotion from the viewers because at least some of the scenarios in them do have a realistic aspect which people can relate to.
Hoshiai no Sora is more of a drama than a sports anime. The sports aspect of the shows is more of a background theme while the core of it portrays how our characters manage the problems they face in their daily lives. I started watching this anime after 3 episodes had already aired, and watching those 3 at once had me excited and anticipating a very, very good sports drama anime that had a fair bit of realism.
And it didn’t disappoint. Well, for the most part of the show at least. The problems with Hoshiai no Sora began to surface once it was revealed that each and every one on the main and supporting cast had problems with their parents in one way or another. It was intriguing to watch the two main leads face their problems and develop in the first few episodes, but as the show went on, the backgrounds of the other characters surfaced, and that was when the show began to go downhill for me.
The soft tennis club of the Shijo Minami Middle School is underperforming and on the verge of being disbanded even though their captain, Toma Shinjou, is an extremely dedicated and gifted player. As Maki Katsuragi transfers to their school, Toma, sees that he might be the one to change the fortunes of the club, and not just save it from being disbanded, but also make it good enough for them to compete in tournaments. Much to Toma’s dismay, Maki has no interest in soft tennis at all, and neither does he have the time. Toma eventually managed to “buy” the services of Maki by promising him money to play, and he agrees. This might seem desperate from Toma, but the boys’ team seriously sucked. Their team is so bad that they constantly get thrashed by their girls’ team, granted the girls’ team are national champions. Thus, begins their quest to get the boys’ soft tennis club revitalized and competing in tournament while facing their own personal issues.
The plot had me fascinated instantly because it was a breath of fresh air and miles away from “unsuited for a particular sport main character has certain good skills that he uses to compete against better suited (usually taller) players” narrative. The drama just added an extra layer of intrigue to it. We had a duo of competent main characters who each had their own reasons for playing soft tennis, faced problems that actually did make sense and had brains, not just skill in the sport.
But after 6 or so episodes, I realized where the anime was heading. By then, it was revealed how most of the cast faced various problem at home. A few characters having some problems with their parents? Interesting and believable. All the characters having problems at home? Unrealistic with too much drama that wasn’t required in an anime that had so much going for it already.
Let’s start off with the main lead, Maki Katsuragi. He’s recently moved into a new apartment with his mom and transfers into the school. From the very beginning, he’s shown to have unbelievable reflexes, managing to adapt to soft tennis like fish to water. He’s an all-round guy who’s not just great at physical activities, but also has a shrewd mind. The only problem he has is that his father is a good for nothing bastard who only comes home once in a while to get money. He’s very close to a Gary Stu but he does have a couple things even he has issues with. I enjoyed watching him to be honest simply for the reason that most sports anime protagonist are the same: dense, thick, stupid, and have something they’re great at while being short.
Then, the deuteragonist, Toma Shinjou, the captain of the soft tennis club. He’s talented at the sport but he struggles because soft tennis is a pair sport and the soft tennis club doesn’t have the perfect pair for him. He too, has problems at home, although this time, it’s with his mother. He doesn’t have too much else worth mentioning but he does form an interesting dynamic with Maki.
Kanako Mitsue is a girl in Toma and Maki’s class who also stays in the same building as Maki. She’s an unsociable girl who spends most of her time observing people and calling the boys’ soft tennis club for putting in effort and failing. She develops a nice chemistry with Maki, and it’s nice to watch her grow closer to the club, and put in some effort for them.
We’ve then got the rest of the soft tennis club in the cast, and all of them have issues with their family. One has a mother who had traumatized him in his childhood, one finds out he lives with foster parents who had adopted him, one is non binary and this isn’t accepted by his mother, one has an overprotective mother while the father only knows how to work and didn’t take his parenting classes in school, another has a father who doesn’t accept him playing soft tennis, one has parents who’re so deluded that they tell him that if he loses, it won’t be through no fault of his own but because he had a shitty partner, and lastly one has a step mother who doesn’t like him.
This is the problem with the show. I was loving Hoshiai no Sora until most of this was revealed. Even then, I still liked the show as a whole but come on, you can’t expect me to take anything like this seriously. The drama was nice when 3-4 characters were shown to have problems while the others seemed to be helping them overcome those. But when everyone in a sports club has problems with their parents, then it starts to become a problem for the show.
The art is very neat and I loved the style but the animation left a lot of holes. The sports scenes in matches are very poorly animated. I say this because none of the matches in the entire show had a continuous animation scene. It was all broken down into one side then the other. You’ll understand what I mean if you watch a full match. Sports anime do require good animation and this was an area that definitely failed to impress. The OST and OP/ED are good without leaving an impression on me. Overall, I think the production could have been better but I don’t like to complain too much about it. As I’ve said, Hoshiai no Sora is more a drama/Slice of Life than it is a sports anime and maybe the studio produced it keeping that in mind?
Hoshiai na Sora is a story of wasted potential. The plot was very unique and had me excited for the most part of the season, but the unrealistic drama really killed it. It tried too hard to be realistic and this was the product of that. Would I recommend this? Yes, and no. If you want to watch a sports drama with a slightly different setup, give this a try. If you can't stand overdramatic shit, you should probably stay away from this.
Hoshiai no Sora could be a gem. I must admit that this series differs from other sports series thanks to its realistic setting and its themes. This series will talk about dysfunctional families, domestic abuses, difficulties about social pressure and also gender identity issues. For these reasons, Hoshiai no Sora can not leave you indifferent, whether you agree or not with the purpose of the anime, i think this show is at least thought-provoking
Hoshiai no Sora is not really a typical sports anime. Sports is not the main theme but a way to develop characters, their interactions and their evolution. Anyway, Hoshiai doesn't follow the way of most sports shounen. No, there are no idealized dreams with characters wishing to achieve perfection and become the best in their sports. You will understand with the synopsis that Hoshiai doesn't have this intention.
Unlike their female colleagues, the boys' soft tennis club fails to achieve positive results. Meanwhile, Maki Katsuragi, a new transfer student, shows great reflexes when he catches a stray cat. Toma Shinjou, the soft tennis club captain, realizes Maki's potential and asks him to join the club. Maki does not want to join any club but following repetitive requests, he accepts if Toma pays him for his participation and club expenses.
Maki joins the club and finds that the members of the club aren't very motivated to work. The pairs are inefficient during games and the members don't have a good chemistry. Maki is completely inexperienced but learns very quickly. The other members are both surprised but also jealous and irritated by Maki's behavior.
It is true that Maki is very frank and can seem abrupt. So he brings many changes to the club. He works mainly on strategy and observes his opponents to decide the best strategy, so he gradually gains consideration from his teammates.
Regarding the other characters, most of them are highlighted and have a few important moments, whether during their club activity or outside of school. For the most part, they are at first very little motivated but gain confidence with the effectiveness of Maki's strategies.
There are also characters that don't belong to the club and that get a significant screentime. The most memorable being Mitsue Kanako who is probably one of the most intriguing characters in this series. We don't really know why she assists the club without being a member (No, the manager is not a girl this time !) but you will regularly hear her edged comments throughout the series. We could quickly consider her as a creepy depressed girl but I can assure you that her development is just as interesting as her personality.
This series also showcases their life outside the club. It was really nice to see the characters outside of the sports environment. Since they are not only people obsessed with sports, but like you and me, these characters also have the worries of everyday life. And I have to admit that even if the ideas are very interesting for the most part, their integration is not really satisfactory.
Indeed, this series contains many, many dramas. There are so many that it becomes predictable. After half of the series, you quickly understand that each character will have his drama at some point in the series. Unfortunately, 12 episodes are not enough to develop dramas for all the characters in the best way.
The storytelling is therefore awkward, we have the impression that the dramas follow one another without logical connection. The original creator, Akane Kazuki, seems to have written a story too long for 12 episodes. Thus we have a lot of dramas with no real resolution. For example, Maki's father, he was quite present at the start of the series. Shinjou even threatened him so we could expect a possible quick confrontation. I won't reveal to you but it is probably one of the most frustrating conclusions. And I can give you other similar examples with other characters. Some characters' backgrounds make feel me indifferent because the characters don't have a significant screentime. I don't have time to feel involved in fifteen characters' dramas in this series. And please, stop the post-ending drama scenes. Doing it once or twice can be surprising but it becomes too repetitive and they give the impression of cheap dramas.
Hoshiai no Sora could be an excellent series but the drama was too excessive that I felt less and less involved.
(Regarding the end, it is obvious that it gives up many subplots and the last drama is frustrating. I guess Akane Kazuki wanted more episodes but the production committees probably limited to 12 episodes.)
Technically, we have a solid production. The most memorable point is probably the ending. The animation and the choreographies are fantastic (but please don't forget to warn the choreographers before using their works !). The animation of the series is excellent, especially on services and receptions during games. But I regret that we get little information regarding the ball directions, so it is not easy to understand the whole game.
The soundtrack is a perfect accompaniment to dramas although my favorites are the piano songs.
In the end, Hoshiai no Sora was a refreshing experience. Showing characters outside the sports setting allowed us to explore very interesting themes, but I would have liked to feel more interested in dramas which unfortunately are omnipresent and turn out to be more boring when you see that any secondary character from this series also has family problems. In 12 episodes, it wasn't enough to develop everything, the storytelling was over the top on the second part. If you want similar experiences, I would recommend that you read or watch works by Mitsuru Adachi that perfectly combine three genres: slice of life, drama and sports. Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru could also interest you. And if you are curious about gender identity issues, you can watch Hourou Musuko or read Shimanami Tasogare.
This review contains spoilers
(tl;dr at the end)
Since the last year, I have been trying to find that one anime every season. Yeah, maybe you know it: that one who has "Source: Original" in its description, flies under the radar for the most viewers who prefer sequels of the already popular shows, and has a potential to become something unique. Original anime means that you don't need to try to adapt 50 chapters of the manga or 4 volumes of the light novel into 12-episode format, to create original ending or give your anime no ending at all, to cut a lot of storylines and the character development from the source material — because the source material for this one is only the imagination of the scriptwriter. And, honestly, I hate it. I always hate when original anime with a curious premise disappoints me. RErideD, Fairy Gone, Bem, Tokunana — all of them have decent ideas in their basis and horrible realizations of them.
Of course, HoshiSora (or Stars Align in the English version) is a lot better than all those abominations, but it is still not enough to become something enjoyable. Pilot episode from this "Fall 2019 sleeper hit that isn't your average sports anime" was really well-done and gave me high hopes for something fresh in the sports genre — but this show became an average slice-of-life with horrible forced drama really soon. Sad bad true, once again. So, what went wrong?
In the first episode, we meet our main characters. We have a school soft tennis club — a bunch of losers with a useless coach and zero motivation to improve themselves, the leader of this club, Toma, who already in despair because he can't change anything, and Maki, transfer student and a potentially good player with a talent who can become a savior for a team. Sounds like a generic sports anime, right? Maybe, but the direction of this episode was really great. Conflicts between Toma, his team, and a school council, dialogues between Toma and Maki ("pay for play"), first interactions between Maki and neighbor girl — all of that was really well-done, with the usage of "show, don't tell" rule and some direction tricks. Add a pretty good animation, comfy music, and, of course, surprising ending with Maki's abusive father - and you will get the best pilot episode of the season. What this show will be? A "not your average sports" anime? A realistic drama? A romance between Maki and that girl whose name I don't know? I was excited and asked for more... and got this.
Realistic sports anime? Not really. After joining the team, Maki suddenly becomes literally a god of soft tennis. One practice - and he already knows how to play. Two — and Maki/Toma pair destroys all other club members. A few days - and in the ep 2, he becomes an actual leader of the team and a great strategist. He provides a manager to a club, he already knows how other members of the team must play, what tactics they should choose, their strong and weak points and how to improve their results - and yeah, it works! All the players in the club suddenly started to play a way better — and in the match against one of the top soft tennis schools in the prefecture (episode 5-6), the soft tennis club is playing with them like they are equal!
Really, scriptwriters? Yeah, I can understand why Maki became a solid player after only a few pieces of training. Maybe, he is a genius, he has a talent or something like that — yeah, cliche, but why not. However, how Maki suddenly received his strategical skills? In the pilot episode, we've got that Maki and his mother have moved numerous times before because they've been trying to escape from Maki's abusive father. So, a guy who don't have any close friends (because he changed a lot of schools), who was often bullied by his father (domestic abuse, yay), who is unsociable (episode 5 and how Maki speaks with Toma in his house)... actually becomes a coach and a psychologist who knows all weak points of his team and how to improve it? How to speak with all members and how to train them? Are you kidding me? And yeah, all problems in their playstyle were successfully resolved because of Maki. He is a genius! He is perfect! He is... just a typical Gary Stu, honestly.
And what about the "pay to play" idea? I thought that Maki will be talented, but an unsociable player who doesn't care about this team, who acts like "I play just for the money". Or, for example, money for the game will become a drive who develops relationships between Maki and his father. What have we actually got? Nothing again. Maki is already a very friendly player who always helps the team, so in ep 5 was the last time when this idea was mentioned, the same as the Maki/Kenji relationships. After the fifth episode and Toma's defense, Maki's father just went out of the house... and never come back. Great job!
Exciting tennis matches? Not here again. All members of the club weren't revealed at all (except our main pair Maki/Toma), so all of their matches look like "undeveloped characters vs cardboard opponents". Add here the fact that tennis (especially pair soft tennis) isn't as exciting as more traditional sports in anime (football, basketball, etc), and all that you got is just some dull matches between bland characters. Nothing interesting and nothing awesome, most of the matches (except maybe some Maki/Toma ones) was simply a boring mess.
Maybe this show is not a sports anime, but a heavy teen drama? Yeah, right. It's a teen drama — one of the laziest and annoying examples of it that I've ever seen in anime. All parents in HoshiSora are abusive and hate soft tennis. Every member of the club just has a random dramatic background. One of them is illegitimate, second has step-mother who abuse him, third has a helicopter mom who hates tennis, fourth has mother who poured boiling water on him when he was a child... drama, drama, drama, a bunch of random conflicts that haven't any development at all because this show has only 12 episodes and that's not enough time to successfully solve them. All of these conflicts just don't bother me at all — "Oh, another forced drama and another abusive parent's background story, how interesting". Because of it, all the characters in this show (except Maki and Toma) seem so bland that I even hadn't remembered their names. Random LGBT themes? Child abuse? Also here. Because what else do we need for the forced drama? Seriously, even Akame ga Kill's deaths were way more dramatic and touching than any of the background stories about these characters.
A romance? Mmm... we have a girl who likes to watch tennis and draw something about it. She exists. That's all.
We have a student council president. She also exists (we even saw one random flashback about her). That's all.
LGBT romance? Well, one of the characters is gay. Why? Just because. That's also all.
Maybe it's a slice of life anime? Yeah, most of the SoL moments were really well done. Good animation, comfy visual style, relationships between Maki and Toma, Maki and the girl, the team and their opponents are actually the best part of the show. However, even those moments don't make the show better. After a comfy moment, we got another forced drama. After well-done dialogues between characters - another shitty dramatic flashback. Nothing enjoyable here again.
TL;DR - Hoshiai no Sora is just a trainwreck. It has cute animation, some good slice-of-life elements and interactions between members of the club, fine music (op and ed), but all of that was ruined by shitty forced drama, incompetent writing, and Gary Stu as the main character. Wanna see good tennis anime? Watch Teekyuu, it has a way better character development.
This show truly has the definition of "don't judge a book by its cover", because it ain't just a sports anime, but one that is rife with the daily affluences of family drama and matters that's spread all over it. And knowing director Kazuki Akane on this show's influence taken mostly from his creation of "Noein" and planning this original story for over a decade, I'd say that while this has caused A HELL LOT of backlash, like Satoshi Mizukani's Planet With, the end result is truly the icing on the cake, whether you'd decide to take it literally or not, I believe that what Akane-san wanted out of it, he truly accomplished it to its feet with his unorthodox method of storytelling.
You must be wondering why the title literally says "Stars Align", but it's Kazuki Akane's way of foreshadowing that no human is ever perfect, and we're like the stars of the sky, when life beats us down harsh, the common interest in question (soft tennis) aligns us in the thread of fate, that is adolescent trauma (which happens to be his favourite theme). Being grown-ups, the world that they know is never a bed of roses, so the harsh reality of families growing through the different pangs and uncertainties must know how to counteract on their very own. While the school/soft tennis club part is there to help expose and alleviate their true natures of the sufferings going through with parental disabilities, or expectations as simply you would call it, all kinds of nature are laid in bare sight. What these adolescent teens (i.e. Maki, Toma and the others) must do is not to take that emotional attachment and let it be the ridiculing point of their lives, but rather, no matter how much understanding others may have on their struggles, it's the reconciliation that leads to the amalgation of their feelings and work it out to experience their joy (which again, is in the soft tennis club) as an output.
And to this point, all the dysfunctional boys in the Shijo Minami Boy's soft tennis team, budding artist but introverted and bullied Kanako Mitsue, and Kinuyo Kasuga the student council president, all face different but similar parental dysfunctions that affect them both physically and mentally, but not without some help from the same outside community that was once split but now bonded with understanding and acceptance, to push past their fears and limitations to be the best they could be. Even the worst of issues have a silver lining that despite how much relentlessness was given, any amount of joy would overcome the overglaringly terror and rebuild it into something special. All were alone, but the least of forgivings were not enough to separate each and every single member to reunite and conquer these harsh battles together.
Studio 8-bit's visuals have never looked so better, especially with the soft tennis matches that seem to glide by every so often with the amount of exceptional precision and realism. While the overall stance is decent, the character designs are one that pops out in the slew of recognizing who's who and what's what, being that informative for reasons I cannot fathom, but with the puzzle pieces put together, paints a canvas that excels better than my initial thoughts about what this could be. Light-hearted visuals but not without the more serious moments (a.k.a parent-child arguments) make this one of those shows that stand out for reasons.
And speaking of the music, I do enjoy the music and sounds of the show, with some realistic voice acting in the parental issues and OP and ED (of which the former comes VERY often), playing into sound design of the show that's just well done IMO. Always been a fan of Megumi Nakajima's music and this OP shows, while the ED's music is also good, and the dance...let's just say that copyrighted material needs to be attended to foremost.
More than just a realistic drama-ified anime, Kazuki Akane's Hoshiai no Sora brings one important point to start and end its story: "Wherever you are in life, everyone goes through thick and thin, and it takes two hands to clap, so grab a partner that can help spur each other's life forward and achieve things you couldn't have imagined you'd accomplish." Love it or hate it, Stars Align truly will forever be misunderstood under Akane-san's direction, but for those who got the gist of it, make your life count, and keep moving forward.
Manga stars align
Japanese anime television series
Stars Align (星合の空, Hoshiai no Sora, transl. "Star-Crossing Skies") is a Japanese original anime television series written and directed by Kazuki Akane at studio Eight Bit. The series aired from October 10 to December 26, 2019.
On January 31, 2020, it was announced that there would be a Special Collaboration Movie and a Special Fan Movie. On May 18, 2020, it was announced that the Special Fan Movie had been completed. The Special Fan Movie was released on May 20, 2020, and takes place two years after the end of the series.
- Maki Katsuragi (桂木 眞己, Katsuragi Maki)
- Voiced by: Natsuki Hanae (Japanese); Justin Briner (English)
- The main protagonist, a transfer student who becomes the best player in the soft tennis club despite being a beginner. He lives with his mother after his parents got divorced and spends his time doing household chores.
- Toma Shinjo (新城 柊真, Shinjō Tōma)
- Voiced by: Tasuku Hatanaka (Japanese); Josh Grelle (English)
- The captain of the soft tennis club. He is the only player on the team who took the sport seriously prior to recruiting Maki.
- Itsuki Ameno (雨野 樹, Ameno Itsuki)
- Voiced by: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Japanese); Derick Snow (English)
- A member of the soft tennis club partnered up with Rintaro. He has a burn scar as a result of his mother pouring boiling water on him when he was an infant.
- Rintaro Futsu (布津 凜太朗, Futsu Rintarō)
- Voiced by: Gen Satō (Japanese); Garret Storms (English)
- The vice president of the boys soft tennis club and Itsuki's partner. He is an illegitimate child that resulted from a teen pregnancy who was put up for adoption. While he is loved by his adopted parents, when he learns about the truth regarding his birth he began to doubt himself. His academic skills are the best among the boys in the club.
- Tsubasa Soga (曽我 翅翼, Soga Tsubasa)
- Voiced by: Toshiyuki Toyonaga (Japanese); Ricco Fajardo (English)
- A member of the boys soft tennis club partnered up with Shingo. He is the youngest of three children in his family. He played soccer up until middle school when he quit the sport to take up tennis instead much to his father's disapproval.
- Shingo Takenouchi (竹ノ内 晋吾, Takenouchi Shingo)
- Voiced by: Keisuke Sato (Japanese); Adam Gibbs (English)
- A member of the boys soft tennis club partnered up with Tsubasa.
- Nao Tsukinose (月ノ瀬 直央, Tsukinose Nao)
- Voiced by: Yūsuke Kobayashi (Japanese); Matt Shipman (English)
- A member of the boys soft tennis club partnered up with Taiyo. He plays tennis much to the disapproval of his mother as she sees tennis as being a distraction that negatively impacts his academic performance.
- Taiyo Ishigami (石上 太洋, Ishigami Taiyō)
- Voiced by: Kōhei Amasaki (Japanese); Dallas Reid (English)
- A member of the boys soft tennis club partnered up with Nao.
- Yū Asuka (飛鳥 悠, Asuka Yū)
- Voiced by: Yoshitaka Yamaya (Japanese); Brandon McInnis (English)
- The manager of the soft tennis club. They question their gender identity and identify as neither a boy nor a girl, although they haven’t found a label that fits them yet. Their name is technically Yūta Asuka (飛鳥 悠汰), but they have said that they prefer Yū. They seem to have a crush on Toma.
- Kanako Mitsue (御杖 夏南子, Mitsue Kanako)
- Voiced by: Mayu Mineda (Japanese); Rachel Glass (English)
- Maki's neighbor and a classmate. She is often seen watching the boys soft tennis club practice.
- Kei Takada (高田 希唯, Takada Kei)
- Voiced by: Satsumi Matsuda (Japanese); Madeleine Morris (English)
- The captain of the girls soft tennis team, and ace of the team. She is sympathetic with boys team efforts, and sometimes playing with them.
- Namie Ameno (雨野 奈美恵, Ameno Namie)
- Voiced by: Shiina Natsukawa (Japanese); Kate Bristol (English)
- Kaori Kasuga (春日 絹代, Kasuga Kinuyo)
- Voiced by: Maaya Sakamoto (Japanese); Tia Ballard (English)
- The student council president. She is very strict and results-oriented. Her philosophy leads her to issuing an ultimatum to the boys soft tennis club to field a competitive team or be dissolved.
- Takuto Murakami (村上 拓人, Murakami Takuto)
- Voiced by: Makoto Furukawa (Japanese); John Wesley Go (English)
- Takayuki Sakurai (桜井 隆幸, Sakurai Takayuki)
- Voiced by: Takahiro Sakurai (Japanese); Aaron Roberts (English)
- Sakura Muroi (室生 さくら, Muroi Sakura)
- Voiced by: Yuko Kaida (Japanese); Morgan Garrett (English)
- Aya Katsuragi (桂木 あや, Katsuragi Aya)
- Voiced by: Kaori Nazuka (Japanese); Mikaela Krantz (English)
- Maki's mother. She got a divorce when Maki was very young and has been working long hours to support him.
- Kenji Kyobate (京終 健二, Kyōbate Kenji)
- Voiced by: Kazuya Nakai (Japanese); Brandon Potter (English)
- Maki's father and Aya's ex-husband. He is unemployed and abusive towards Maki.
- Ryoma Shinjo (新城 涼真, Shinjō Ryōma)
- Voiced by: Masaya Matsukaze (Japanese); Chris Wehkamp (English)
- Toma's mother (柊真の母)
- Voiced by: Ryoka Yuzuki (Japanese); Kristin Sutton (English)
Production and release
On April 5, 2018, studio Eight Bit announced via Twitter that it was collaborating with Kazuki Akane to produce a new original anime. Akane is writing and directing the series, and Itsuka is providing the original character designs. Yūichi Takahashi is serving as the series' chief animation director, character designer, and series animation director (the latter credit referring to directorial duties). Additionally, Miki Takeshita is in charge of scene setting, Shiori Shiwa is serving as art director, and Jin Aketagawa is serving as sound director at Magic Capsule. FlyingDog is producing the series' music. Instrumental band jizue is composing the series' music. The series is listed for 12 episodes.Megumi Nakajima performed the series' opening theme song "Suisō", while AIKI from bless4 performed the series' ending theme song "Kago no Naka no Bokura wa".
The series aired from October 10 to December 26, 2019, and was broadcast on TBS, BS-TBS, and other channels.Funimation has licensed the series for a simuldub.
In October 2019, two dancers accused the show of plagiarizing their choreography for the ending sequence, and their posts went viral on Twitter. In response, TBS Entertainment issued an apology to the dancers.
After the final episode, Kazuki Akane revealed that the anime was originally planned to be 24 episodes, but the production committee had decided to cut down the length of the series last minute. Akane promised that he would find another way to wrap up his original story through a sequel.
In April 2021, Kazuki Akane said he has been unable to find a company that will fund more episodes of Stars Align.
- ^Credited as Animation Director (アニメーションディレクター), a role separate from the Animation Director (作画監督) credit, and denoting to series directorial duties.
- ^ abcHodgkins, Crystalyn (April 5, 2018). "Escaflowne Director Kazuki Akane, Studio 8-Bit Reveal New Original Project". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- ^ abcdeLoo, Egan (August 18, 2018). "Escaflowne's Kazuki Akane Directs 8-Bit's Hoshiai no Sora Tennis TV Anime for 2019". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- ^Morrissy, Kim (February 3, 2020). "Stars Align to Produce 'Special Collaboration Movie', 'Special Fan Movie'". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
- ^Mateo, Alex (May 18, 2020). "Stars Align Anime's Director Reports Completion of 'Special Fan Movie'". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
- ^Loo, Egan (May 20, 2020). "Stars Align Anime Streams Memorial Epilogue Short Set 2 Years Later". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
- ^ abcdeFunimation. "[Master Thread] Stars Align (Dubbed)". www.funimation.com. Retrieved 2019-10-25.
- ^ abPineda, Rafael Antonio (May 10, 2019). "Hoshiai no Sora Anime Adds Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Gen Sato to Cast". Anime News Network. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- ^ abHodgkins, Crystalyn (June 10, 2019). "Keisuke Satō, Toshiyuki Toyonaga Join Cast of Hoshiai no Sora Anime". Anime News Network. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
- ^ abPineda, Rafael Antonio (June 20, 2019). "Hoshiai no Sora Tennis Anime Casts Yūsuke Kobayashi, Kōhei Amasaki". Anime News Network. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
- ^ abcdefghijklHodgkins, Crystalyn (July 7, 2019). "Stars Align Anime Reveals 12 More Cast Members". Anime News Network. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
- ^Ressler, Karen (December 28, 2018). "Escaflowne Director Kazuki Akane's Hoshiai no Sora Anime Reveals Promo Video, Visual". Anime News Network. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
- ^Pineda, Rafael Antonio (July 4, 2019). "Stars Align Tennis Anime Has 12 Episodes". Anime News Network. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
- ^Sherman, Jennifer (June 5, 2019). "Megumi Nakajima Performs Hoshiai no Sora Anime's Opening Song". Anime News Network. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- ^Sherman, Jennifer (August 5, 2019). "AIKI from bless4 Performs Stars Align Anime's Ending Song". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
- ^Hodgkins, Crystalyn (March 26, 2019). "Hoshiai no Sora Anime Reveals New Visual, October Premiere". Anime News Network. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
- ^Hodgkins, Crystalyn (September 1, 2019). "Stars Align Anime Reveals Visual, October 10 Premiere". Anime News Network. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
- ^"Funimation to Stream Phantasy Star Online 2: Episode Oracle, Stars Align Anime". Anime News Network. September 20, 2019. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
- ^"Funimation's Fall 2019 Lineup Ramps Up the Action!". Funimation. September 18, 2019. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
- ^"アニメ『星合の空』踊り手動画のトレース疑惑 「事実関係を確認中」". Kai-You (in Japanese). 2019-10-24. Retrieved 2019-10-24.
- ^Morrissy, Kim (December 26, 2019). "Stars Align Director Kazuki Akane Promises Sequel In Some Form". Anime News Network. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
- ^Mateo, Alex (April 19, 2021). "Stars Align Anime's Director Shares Updates on Sequel Plans". Anime News Network. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
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