Fall is officially upon us, and while juggernauts like Sword Art Online, Food Wars, Seven Deadly Sins, and My Hero Academia will be hogging the anime spotlight later this week, there are still some other promising anime you should give a chance this fall season. If, like me, you’re bummed out about Haikyuu!! season 4 being delayed until January, newcomer Ahiru no Sora has the potential to fill that sudden sports anime void.
The first episode introduces us to Sora Kurumatani, a diminutive but determined boy who dreams of becoming a pro basketball player like his mother. However, on his first day of high-school, he learns that his school’s basketball club is overrun with delinquent punks who have no intention of letting anyone play basketball. In order to play the basketball he loves so much at his new school, Sora must prove his skills and defeat all of the punks at basketball single-handedly.
Obviously, based on that description, Ahiru no Sora is not reinventing the wheel when it comes to the sports anime genre. We have a short but plucky protagonist with a pure love for sport à la Haikyuu!!, and at this point, thugs taking over a sports club’s locker room has become something of an epidemic, it occurs so often in sports anime. And with the classic dynamic of a short and tall player forming an unlikely friendship and battery in their given sport, Ahiru no Sora is a sports anime that’s not particularly interested in straying from the tried and true formula.
While the series won’t be wowing or blowing anyone’s mind with unexpected subversions of the genre, sometimes that’s totally okay. Sports anime is a genre loved by its fans for its ability to make you care deeply about completely predictable and familiar storylines. We all know the main team will be bested and rally together, stronger than ever, in time to win the final tournament with the third years before they graduate. We don’t typically watch sports anime for unexpected twists and turns; we watch it for melodramatic character drama as expressed through fun and fast-paced sports. So as long as you know what you want out of sports anime, there’s a lot to like in Ahiru no Sora. The chemistry between the earnest Sora and the kind-hearted but lazy Chiaki is enjoyable to watch, and the comedy between them and the rest of the teenage delinquents is consistently amusing. Although the characters might be traditional archetypes, the series’ unusual character designs and solid comedic timing keep the character interactions fresh and interesting.
While the show fully embraces overused tropes, it still manages to breathe some life into the formula due to its other strengths. Although the budget and quality could very well diminish over the course of this season, the first episode’s animation is truly impressive. Each movement on the basketball court, from complicated crossovers to simple lay-ups, is fluid and realistically animated. Only time will tell, but at this point in the anime, Ahiru no Sora has the potential to deliver the kind of kinetic and exhilarating sports action we haven’t seen since Kuroko no Basket, and that possibility in itself is reason to stick with the series. If you’re looking for new anime to watch while waiting for a more popular series to drop this weekend, give Ahiru no Sora a chance.
The series is currently airing on Wednesdays and is legally available for streaming on Crunchyroll.