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Stars Align

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Episode 12
Win or lose, Toma and Maki are having a blast playing the national champs. The underdogs get support from the crowd as everyone cheers them on.

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Episode 11
With under three months of play under his belt, Maki faces a crowd-favorite opponent with his doubles partner Toma in the club's one last chance to stay alive.

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Episode 10
The day of the tournament has come at last and it's time to find out if everyone's hard work can win them a single match to save the club from getting disbanded.

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Episode 9
On the day Shingo's little sister comes to watch him play at the school, not only does soft tennis get put on hold, but dreams are crushed as well.

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Episode 8
Once the club finds out their first opponent in the tournament bracket, they're forced to use unconventional tactics to scout out an elite player they'll be facing.

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Episode 7
Maki and Toma face off in an intense match against Misaki's ace pair. The club is later surprised by their advisor who suggests they skip practice and take a little break.

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Episode 6
The soft tennis club takes on Misaki Academy in a series of practice matches, but they'll have to change things up if they want to stand a chance.

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Episode 5
When pressed for the truth, Maki confides in Toma and they take a stand against Kenji. Later, Rintaro admits that he's been a burden in more ways than one.

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Episode 4
The new pairs see how they fare in a series of practice matches against Toma and Maki. Meanwhile, their advisor reveals a plan in store to help out.

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Episode 3
Toma's frustration with the team boils over after pairing up with Maki for a few practice games. Maki later learns about Itsuki's family situation after he lashes out at a bully.

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Episode 2
Maki's first day of practice is not only brutal, but eye-opening for the entire team. Tensions rise when he calls out the others for their lack of effort.

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Episode 1
When an old friend moves into town, team captain Toma has a plan to save the boys' soft tennis club that's in danger of being disbanded for how awful it is.

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Stars Align is a Japanese anime television series that first aired in 2019 on TBS in Japan and several other anime streaming platforms internationally. This 12-episode series, also known as “Hoshiai no Sora” in Japan, was created and directed by Kazuki Akane, who is famous for his work on “The Vision of Escaflowne." Akane also provided the script for the series, thus leaving his imprint on every aspect of the show.

The core theme of Stars Align revolves around the world of junior high school tennis, but the uniqueness of the show lies in its capability to go beyond just being sports-centric. It delves into complex human relationships, tackling difficult issues, and explores the personal lives of its characters in an emotional and often poignant narrative. A deep sense of realism pervades the series aided by the beautifully crafted animation and the original score composed by jizue, that complements the overall mood of the show perfectly.

The story of Stars Align is centered around two of its main characters: Maki Katsuragi and Tōma Shinjō. Maki is a transfer student and a newbie in the world of soft tennis - a variant of the original sport played with soft rubber balls. Tōma, on the other hand, is the passionate captain of a soft tennis team that is chronically underperforming and in danger of being disbanded. With Maki’s natural prowess and quick adaptability, coupled with Tōma’s unwavering faith and perseverance, the duo strikes an interesting balance and sets out to salvage the team’s reputation.

The series doesn’t shy away from presenting the realities of life and focuses on the struggles faced by each team member who come from diverse backgrounds. It delves into the characters' family lives and reveals tangled threads of their existence - from dealing with demanding parents and coming out as gay to standing up to bullies and handling financial instability. The show brings out the stark difference between the lives of each individual and emphasizes how these contrasting backgrounds shape their friendships, personalities and, ultimately, their game on the court.

While the dramatic elements definitely stand out, Stars Align also offers a generous share of sports action. The viewers are introduced to the mechanics of soft tennis, made exciting with engaging matches and intense training montages. The game takes on a symbolic role in the series, representing the struggle and challenges that each character undergoes in every aspect of their life.

Brimming with character depth and intricate storytelling, Stars Align stands as much more than just a sports anime. It offers a balance of lighthearted humor, intense sports action, and dramatic storytelling. It bravely confronts challenging themes and social issues, providing an honest portrayal of how such experiences can shape a young person's life.

As a discussion starter and a meaningful slice-of-life series, Stars Align compels viewers to reflect upon the roles of friendship, perseverance, and personal growth in overcoming life’s adversities. Ultimately, Stars Align demonstrates that while the complexities of life are as unpredictable and challenging as a vigorous tennis match, the strength and dedication towards overcoming these can lead to personal victories and unforgettable bonds. The series not only entertains through its dynamic sport sequences but also moves the viewers with its layered narrative, which resonates deeply with real-life situations and emotions.

Unique, inspiring, and unreservedly real, Stars Align truly brings together all the elements for an emotionally engaging viewing experience. Each episode leaves a viewer anticipating what comes next while reflecting on the story's relatability and the characters' complex experiences that resonate with our lives beyond the screen. It's a series that echoes long after the last serve has been played, transforming the narrative from just a story to a heartfelt journey of young lives navigating through life’s labyrinthine challenges.

Stars Align is a series categorized as a currently airing. Spanning 1 seasons with a total of 12 episodes, the show debuted on 2019. The series has earned a moderate reviews from both critics and viewers. The IMDb score stands at 7.4.

Jessie James Grelle, Justin Briner, Natsuki Hanae
Stars Align is available on .