Ahiru no Sora - Just Another Sports Show, or Something Else?

In these past few years, it seems like sports anime have kind of gotten a bit of a sudden popularity surge. With 'Haikyuu', 'Ping Pong the Animation', 'Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru' and 'Sangatsu no Lion' being a few examples of some recent high profile sports shows. I myself, while not exactly having consumed many sports shows, still enjoy most of those I've watched. So, with that out of the way, how does this season's 'Ahiru no Sora' match up?

'Ahiru no Sora' is an adaptation of a manga of the same name which has been running since 2003. With having been in publication for such a long time, It's no suprise the creators of the anime adaptation decided to make it a whole 50 episodes. But before I get all carried away, how about a synopsis?

Kurumatani Sora is a sophmore at Kuzuryuu High School, and he's determined to play basketball. However, there's a few problems. He's really short, and the basketball club's only members are directionless delinquents.

Naturally, Sora isn't going to let this slide, and here we get into of the series' biggest strengths, the character writing and design. Before we even get to see any of the characters actually play basketball, we're introduced to their strengths and weaknesses by getting to observe their activites outside of school. I really wish the character designs were more distinct though. Sure, Sora, Chiaki and Momoharu, which are the three most prominent characters all have very easily distinguishable character designs, however the rest of the basketball club just look like random delinquent #47. This is one part where a lot of other sports series outperform 'Ahiru no Sora' by a lot, the most obvious being Haikyuu, where every single character, regardless of their relevance to the plot or which school they come from, all have distinct looks from each other.

I love delinquent characters. From Jotaro Kujo to Ryuko Matoi, to Bouya Harumichi to Haru Yoshida to Kaneda Shoutaro, everything from the aesthethic to the carefree nature of their lifestyle, I think it's so cool (obviously being a delinquent in real life is really lame and dumb, but this is fiction we're talking about). So naturally, 'Ahiru no Sora' should be right up my alley, right? Well, not really. This isn't a delinquent series, it only has a few delinquent characters as a means to more easily show character growth. The fights the characters occasionally do get into aren't given the time of day, they show the buildup, and then the aftermath. In addition to having watched the five episodes episodes of the show which have aired up till now, I also read the first fifty chapters of the manga, and you know what? They were okay.

That's not to say there aren't things about the show which I find enjoyabe. One of my favourite moments in the series happens relatively early, when during a game, Sora has hurt his hand, so he can't shoot normally. To counteract this, he shoots by using the same technique female players use instead, which allows him to score points. This is brilliant because it really shows the impact that his mom, who was a former professional basketball player, had on him, which in contrast to earlier in the story, when we only got to hear about how much she influenced him.