Stars Align Series Review: Achieve and Overcome

Original Run: October 11, 2019 - December 27, 2019
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Drama, Slice of Life, Sports

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Stars Align. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Always outshined by their nationally ranked female counterparts, the members of the boys’ soft tennis club have resigned themselves to being lazy and unmotivated. Now it seems their attitude could cost them their club status, and only club president Toma Shinjou (voiced by Tasuku Hatanaka) seems to care.

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Desperate to find more members, Toma looks to recent transfer student Maki Katsuragi (voiced by Natsuki Hanae). After some convincing, Toma manages to recruit Maki, who turns out to be a natural at the sport.

With the prospects of being able to keep their club now a little bit higher, and with the addition of Maki, the other members start to put in more effort.

However, each of their personal lives threatens to undo everything they have done, and in some cases, the situation at home is quite harmful.

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Series Positives

Stars Align was initially scheduled to be a twenty-four episode split-cour anime. However, series director Kazuki Akane wrote on Twitter:

In the spring, there was a last-minute change in the schedule to make the show 12 episodes long…” (Translate quote provided by Anime News Network)

Director Akane went on to write:

“[W]e’ve been working on this anime for over two years, and the animation production was already proceeding, so I (Director Akane) deemed it impossible to turn it into a 12 episode structure at that juncture. Thus, we made 12 episodes with the 24 episode structure intact.” (Translation provided by Anime News Network)

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Director Akane concludes by saying that he intends for a conclusion to the Stars Align story to come in some form someday.

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To read Director Akane’s original tweet (in Japanese), please click HERE.

To read Anime News Network’s translation, please click HERE.

I bring this up because Stars Align wasn’t some broken mess of a show where it would have been par for the course for the story just to stop. The series had been too well-made up to that point to suggest that the suddenness of its ending had been the intention from the start. Therefore, I wanted to ensure that anyone who is thinking about sitting down to watch this show knows that as of this review going live, there is no continuation on the horizon.

And that is disappointing because I know I want to learn what happens next (especially when you consider what the final shot of this series was).

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If there is one thing I could say about Stars Align, its that it was an anime that didn’t want any association with stereotypical anime. This series had a story it wanted to tell, and what it wanted to tell could not have worked in a show filled with flashy fights, in your face fanservice, or highly exaggerated comedy. Instead, this show’s idea was to present situations that would make you feel feelings.

Every character in Stars Align had heavy baggage.

  • A resentful step-parent
  • An overbearing mother
  • A disapproving father
  • Scars from physical abuse
  • A venomous home life
  • Bullies targeting a questioning teen

This show ran quite the gambit.

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And then there was the scumbag who was going around telling people he was Maki Katsuragi’s father. Sadly, biology says that this piece of trash was Maki’s father. From a storytelling point of view, though, this was where Stars Align exercised some of its power.

I can’t promise it will happen to you, but while I was watching this series, I found myself getting extremely worked up, like to the point where my heart was on the verge of having a full-blown anxiety attack. The way this show presented the relationship between Maki and his father, and then the confrontation Maki’s father had with Toma Shinjou, struck a chord with me.

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Now before anyone goes getting the wrong idea: I love my father very much, and my relationship with him is the polar opposite of what Maki had with his, and it always has been. I think what got to me was my undying hatred of anyone who sees their child as their property. Whatever the reason may have been, this series firmly established that Maki (and really everyone) was in a bad spot.

Stars Align was a solid school life drama that didn’t feel forced or unrealistic. This is the aspect of the show that grabs hold of your attention, and it is the reason why I want there to be a sequel of some kind.

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Series Negatives

Although Stars Align was an exceptional drama piece, it was also a pretty generic sports anime. I would have preferred it if the show had not had anything to do with tennis. Don’t get me wrong; I understand what role the soft tennis club played for the characters.

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This was the only place these kids had that was outside their normal, more complicated lives. This was something that was theirs to get better at; it was something they could put energy into; it gave them a purpose.

Be that as it may, Stars Align did nothing out of the ordinary in this respect. If you have seen any sports anything before, then you immediately know what is going to happen in this series. It was distracting.

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This odd, out of place tennis side plot took away time that could have been dedicated to exploring the characters more. Instead, this series made sure to include a thorough rundown of how tennis, specifically soft tennis, worked, so that is now a thing I know.

Thank god this wasn’t solely a sports anime. Otherwise, I would have been bored to death. But with this series’s more dramatic elements, I was able to hold on. It was because of this show’s more dramatic elements that I was able to enjoy Stars Align as much as I did.

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Final Thoughts

This series was good but extremely predictable.

You could almost hold down the skip button and understand everything that was happening; it was that easy to figure out.

However, when this show decided to get real, and real it got, it, indeed, became something memorable. I hope a continuation does come in some fashion.

Stars Align has earned a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Stars Align? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

And if you’ve liked what you read and want more anime content, please follow me at LofZOdyssey Anime Reviews or on Twitter @thelofzodyssey.

Also, be sure to subscribe here at The Outerhaven and never miss any of your video game, anime, and other nerdom news and content.

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I’m LofZOdyssey, and I will see you next time.

About The Author

James Devlahovich

James Devlahovich has been an anime reviewer since 2015, an anime fan for much, much longer, and is currently based in Osaka, Japan. As a rule, there is no anime he is unwilling to review, and any series he starts, he must finish. Leave all the feedback -- positive and negative -- in the comments. Also, be sure to follow James on Twitter @thelofzodyssey for more anime related content.

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