OP: 「Happy Go Ducky!」 by the pillows
「The Ugly Duckling」
Kurumantani Sora (Kaji Yuki), while not a fighter, will absolutely fight you.
It’s his first day of High School, so you can bet that he’s going to be walking around the halls, getting to know his classmates, and signing up for clubs, right? Wrong. On his first day, Kurumantani was shaken down by delinquents and robbed, but with that being said, he took it like a champ. Look at that face. He’s such an endearing goofball that you can’t help rooting for him. His optimism and upbeat attitude buoy every scene. Even when he’s being bullied, locked up in an equipment closet, or flat-out beaten up, he’s never down for long before he rallies himself to show the “members” of the basketball team that what he lacks in height or strength, he makes up for with guts. He’s also a genuinely talented basketball player who can wipe the floor with the school’s team in their current state. Still, a deal’s a deal. If Sora can pull out a win next episode, he’ll have a team on his hands, albeit one that hasn’t practiced in ages. It’s not an unfamiliar set-up, but not an unwelcome one, either. From the pompadours to the classic bullying tactics and posturing, Ahiru no Sora feels like a callback to older sports series with an updated look and feel. The inspirational music welling in the background when the main character gathers his courage, the hooded eyes of emotion, the patient explaining of sports moves to the watching audience – it’s like coming home.
It really does seem like updating older manga series has become something of a trend this year, though I’m hardly complaining. What I read of Hinata Takeshi’s manga was highly entertaining, with expressive character designs, humor, and action sequences that have translated magnificently to the animation. Backstories were certainly hinted at this episode, and though it was only implied, it certainly looks as though Sora’s shoes are all that he has left to remember his mother by, and that his motivation to become a basketball player is dedicated to her memory. Yet, in spite of that, he can still smile with his head held high. Sometimes, if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen, and like Chiaki (Konishi Katsuyuki) said, he has good vibes. People are drawn to those who chase after their dreams.
The vocals are solid, especially from Kaji Yuki’s performance, the visual gags will definitely earn a chuckle, and as long as Ahiru no Sora can keep up the pace it’s set it’s safe to say that this will be a sports series worth keeping an eye on.
Kuramantani Sora. Remember the name.
ED: Tsubasa by Saji