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Anime / Stars Align

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One of the promotional posters for the anime. Featuring Touma (left) and Maki (right).

Maki Katsuragi has just transferred into a new school, Shijou Minami. By sheer happenstance, he reunites with someone from his childhood called Touma Shinjou, who witnesses Maki's agility and asks him to join the school's soft tennis club, which is on the verge of shutting down. Maki initially refuses to join, but Touma insists and Maki agrees to join under the condition that he gets paid for his efforts.

Stars Align is an anime series produced by Studio 8-bit and directed by Kazuki Akane. It premiered on October 11, 2019, running for 12 episodes, although the creator would like to make a sequel possible since it was originally planned for 24 episodes. The official website streamed a special fan movie on the 20th May 2020 to promote the home release, and it shows a glimpse of the main characters as high schoolers two years after the anime finale.

Stars Align contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Both physical and emotional abuse from parents comes up regularly in the anime, with everyone on the team (except for Rintaro and Taiyo) having at least one parent who is abusive or neglectful in some way.
    • Maki's father forces his way into the apartment when his mother is away at work, stealing their savings and assaulting him. It's implied that Maki didnít tell his mother about the visit, and he lies about how he got his bruise to his teacher.
    • Itsuki's mother, overwhelmed and likely suffering from postpartum depression, poured boiling water on her son while home alone. Neighbors heard his cries and brought him to the hospital, but enough time had passed that he was left permanently scarred.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Tsubasa and Shingo win the opening point in their practice match against Misaki Academy using questionable Screaming Warrior and Calling Your Attacks methods, all the members from the opposing team are dumbfounded. Ouji, meanwhile, finds it so hilarious he falls out of his chair laughing.
  • An Aesop:
    • Parents and their children aren't always going to get along, and it's not the child's fault.
    • Just because they're related to you by blood, it doesn't mean you're obligated to acknowledge your birth parent as your real parent (especially if they're not the one raising you or are shitty at their job).
  • Art-Style Dissonance: Downplayed. The anime has a pleasing art-style with very soft character designs. While there's plenty of light-hearted moments, the series also deals with a lot of dark and heavy issues such as domestic abuse. This "gap" was intentionally done by the director.
  • Big Bad: Kenji Kyobate is the main antagonist and the one who makes his son's life miserable at any time.
  • Blood from the Mouth: After being beaten by Kenji at the end of the first episode, Maki begins bleeding from the mouth.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: As is common with the genre, most of the characters are good-looking teenage boys.
  • Coming of Age Story: A slice-of-life story driven by the boys' soft tennis club's troubles, especially Maki and Touma, and how they try to improve themselves (and each other) with their club activities.
  • Cool Big Sis: Namie is a supportive and kind older sister to Itsuki (a contrast to majority of her club members who mock the boys' club), as well as athletic and popular.
  • Cut Himself Shaving:
    • When a teacher asks about the bruise on his cheek, inflicted by his physically-abusive father, Maki lies and that says that he fell off his bed.
    • Tsubasa's not lying when he says he got hurt falling on the stairs, but he leaves out that he lost his balance because his father hit him.
  • Cut Short: Originally, the show was planned for 24 episodes, but was cut down to just 12. However, it was reduced so late in production the staff had no time to readjust the series to the new length, so instead of a conclusion, it just ends on a double-whammy cliffhanger.
  • Dancing Theme: The ending theme features many of the characters dancing. While the dancing itself is very well-animated, it's also a more realistic example than most, since not all of the characters are good at dancing. The characters never move perfectly in sync with each other, and while some of them are excellent dancers (like the student council president) others are struggling to keep up or don't really try at all.
  • Down to the Last Play:
    • In Episode 7, unlike the other teams, Maki and Touma push Misaki Academy to five sets (against The Ace Ouji, no less) and narrowly lose after multiple deuces.
    • In Episode 12, Maki and Touma force a deciding fifth set after coming back to level the match at 2-2 against the famous twin team. After the twins slap some sense into themselves, they come back from a 0-3 deficit to win the match at 7-3.
  • First-Episode Twist: Maki has a horrible father that constantly steals any money he earns, which is why he wants Touma to pay him for joining the soft tennis club.
  • Foreshadowing: During the ending theme, Tsubasa is seen sitting and casually bouncing a soccer ball while Shingo dances. Later, the story reveals Tsubasa used to play soccer and he literally has to sit out of a match after hurting his wrist.
  • Hate Sink: Kenji is very despicable due to his abusive ways, and is the series' Big Bad for a reason.
  • Gut Punch: The first episode has a mostly light and soft tone, up until the end of the episode, when Makiís father breaks into the apartment and assaults and burglarizes him.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Maki and Touma intertwine their fingers after their first practice together, having started to find common ground with each other.
  • Mood Whiplash: Things often go from sunny to depressing in a heartbeat. One example is Tsubasa bonding with his brothers, then immediately getting into a spat with his judgemental father and breaking his wrist after the father slaps him and causes him to fall down the stairs.
  • No Ending: The anime was planned for 24 episodes but got Cut Short during the production. Since it was too late to adjust the writing to 12 episodes (it was in the works for two years), the director left the pacing alone which lead to not only unresolved plotlines but also a few cliffhanger scenes as the "ending":
    • Touma attempts to make amends with his mother on the phone, only for her to inform him that 1) she's getting divorced and will live with Ryouma while Touma lives with his father, and 2) she's happy to be rid of him. The last we see of Touma is Ryouma running to him and realizing something's wrong.
    • Mitsue is shown working on her pictures of Touma and Maki while she reads comments from her followers criticising the change in her artwork. She shrugs them off and keeps drawing.
    • Maki comes home to Shou ominously sitting at the table and finds out his father caused trouble again. The final scene is of him approaching his father's home and taking a knife out of his bag, declaring that he can't be at ease while he's around.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Tsubasa and Shingo's "strategy" in their practice match against one of the Misaki Academy teams? Scream nonsense almost the entire time, throwing off their opponents. It's super ridiculous yet works well enough for them to win the first set, and they only get away with it because it's technically not against the rules. Even The Ace star Ouji thinks it's Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Save Our Team: The soft tennis club is about to lose their funding if they donít win their next tournament, which is why Touma is so desperate for Maki to join.
  • Spoiler Opening: The ending credits (shown from Episode 2 onwards) shows all the boys of the soft tennis club dancing, but in random pairs (except for Touma/Maki). These pairs turn out to be the new doubles teams Maki comes up with in Episode 4, having figured out that the original teams weren't compatible.
  • The Stinger: Episodes sometimes have extra scenes after the ending credits. These stingers normally act as Mood Whiplash to the previous scenes and show a character suffering in some way.
  • Struggling Single Mother: Aya Katsuragi, Makiís mom, works long hours to make ends meet after divorcing her abusive husband who raped her.
  • Teach Him Anger: In Episode 2, Maki baits the rest of the boy's soft tennis club by mocking their lack of skill in order to motivate them to take practice more seriously.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hoshiai No Sora


Maki's Dad

Maki's mother divorced his father not long ago because he's an abusive asshole, stealing their hard earned money and beating Maki over the slightest provocation. Unfortunately, due to how divorce laws work in Japan, he's still able to track them down and continue to raise hell for them. Sadly, he's not even the only bad parent in this show.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / AbusiveParents

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