The Best Start and the Worst Start (最高の始まりと最悪の始まり, Saikō no Hajimari to Saiaku no Hajimari) is the sixteenth episode of the Ahiru no Sora anime. The opening theme is Never Mind which is performed by flumpool. The ending theme is Over which is performed by Yuma Uchida.
Upon witnessing Tarou's uneven and speedy style of performance, Kuzuryu High becomes a bit cautious. Chiaki, seeing all the attention Tarou is getting from his teammates, especially Nao, gets jealous. Tarou confidently makes the free throw and smiles towards Nao. Masahiro tells Yasuhara that Tarou’s speedy style of playing basketball is cool. Katori urges Tarou to get a bit serious cause he is taking too much time when scoring, and the last free throw he did was barely five seconds short of the shot clock. It’s Kuzuryu High possession, and Momoharu has the ball possession. Konishi guards his senpai carefully. Momoharu passes the ball to Kenji, who tries to score but gets blocked by Tarou. Everyone at Kitasumi High praises Tarou for his defensive effort. Konishi advises Momoharu that instead of passing, he should have attempted to score. Momoharu gazes at him furiously and urges Konishi that not to indulge in a fight with him purposely. Katori passes the ball to Konishi. While dribbling, Konishi tells Momoharu that the senpai he knew from middle school who taught him how to play basketball has forgotten the basics or fundamentals of the sport. Momoharu gets a bit frustrated and tries to block him. Konishi sees his blocking attempt and efficiently passes the ball to Tarou, who then scores. The score is tied 7 to 7.
After seeing the score tied, Sora becomes worried that the match's flow depends on which team takes the lead. Sora gets himself in a position to score, Tarou sees him and tries to block him. Sora pretends to shoot and then goes for a layup. Konishi efficiently stops him. Hasebe grabs the loose ball and passes it to Tarou. To lower the morale of Kuzuryu High, Tarou displays his jumping ability by performing a dunk. He misses the dunk by few inches and still manages to score. Everyone at Kuzuryu High is amazed at Tarou’s jumping ability. Tarou confidently looks at Sora and tells him that his team will be victorious in the end. Upon concluding, Tarou praises Sora for his shooting skills and states that isn’t enough to win because he can efficiently make dunks. Nao sees a low-spirited Sora and then calls for a timeout. Nao instructs her squad to guard Konishi and Tarou carefully because these two are Kitasumi High’s leading scorers. She then switches their defensive formation from man-to-man to a full-court man-to-man defense, also known as full-court press or pressure defense, which is a defensive formation in which members of a team cover their opponents throughout the court and not just near their basket. Koga becomes impressed by their defensive formation. However, Koga believes that this type of defensive tactic will not last longer because it can exhaust the defensive players.
This time a determined Kuzuryu High squad tries to stop Tarou and his teammates from scoring. Sora is trying his best not to lose his guard on Tarou and tells himself that he needs to keep up with Tarou’s speedy and uneven style of play. Sora then recalls the time when he was learning how to improve his defense. As being his mentor, Kenji advised him that one’s ability to react in time only matters if the defensive player can keep up with the pace of the offensive player. Therefore, the defender’s priority is to match the speed of their opponent or move slightly faster. Sora then notices that Tarou’s speed compared to Kenji is slower, and he can keep up to pace with him. Tarou notices a persistent Sora and states he hates players who can keep up with his uneven style of play. Tachibana to help his teammate sets up an efficient screen. Tarou loses Sora’s mark, and Katori passes the ball to Hasebe, who then scores. Kitasumi High expands their lead to 4 points. The score is 11 to 7. Sora encourages his teammates not to worry, and they will return the favor on their offense. Moving forward, Sora then vows that he will not let Tarou score any more points in this quarter. Chiaki passes the ball to one of his teammates, who then try to score the ball touches the rim. Konishi grabs the offensive rebound. Momoharu again gets a bit frustrated by his futile rebounding attempts. Sora, this time not leaving his mark on Tarou.
Tarou gets seriously frustrated. Katori notices a furious Tarou and then passes the ball to Hasebe. Tachibana sets up another screen; this time, Sora manages to avoid it. Sora steals the ball, but it goes out of bounds. The rest of the Kuzuryu High squad are impressed with Sora’s defensive skills, and suddenly their teams' morale goes up. Now the match's outcome depends on either’s teams' defensive formation. The first quarter is about to conclude. Kenji displays his superior performance in the match by scoring consecutive three times in a row. However, Kitasumi High doesn’t get fazed by it, and Katori urges his teammate, Tachibana, to end the first quarter on a positive note by scoring another basket. Tachibana attempts to score, but he is unsuccessful. The first quarter concludes, and the score is 17 to 17. Madoka praises Sora for his efficient defensive skills. Sora thanks her for the compliments and heads towards his bench. Nabe praises that their team is doing well against Kitasumi High and compliments Kenji for scoring consecutive three times in a row. Upon hearing, Nao urges her squad not to get ahead of themselves and that the match is at its beginning stages. The game's situation can change instantly and further states that the Kitasumi High is a slow starting offensive team. So, they should be careful.
Nao instructs her squad that their defense in the first quarter was great. However, going forward, they need to keep scoring; otherwise, they will fall behind. Nao replaces Nabe with Yasuhara and instructs Sora to keep up with his defense against Tarou. Kitasumi High coach Koga is impressed with Kuzuryu High’s performance and praises Nao’s coaching skills. He then instructs Tarou to stop trying to be offensive in the next quarter. Tarou disagrees and replies if he doesn’t score, then who will because all their teams' offense depends on him. Koga agrees and states that the little one, referring to Sora, is marking him, and he hasn’t been able to shake him off. Tarou accepts the challenge and tells his coach that he will give his best effort to lose Sora’s mark on him.
The time-out concludes the second quarter is about to commence. Both teams head to the court. Masahiro and Nabe try to encourage their nervous friend Yasuhara. One of the freshmen at Kitasumi High questioned Koga why he was being hard on Tarou and should have known that saying such things would make him angry. Koga replies that he did that purposely so Tarou could get energetic and fired up. It's Kuzuryu High’s ball possession. Katori is guarding Chiaki and notices that his adversary is a passing specialist. Chiaki does his signature backhand pass. Momoharu efficiently receives it and attempts to score. Everyone at the court is amazed by Chaiki’s point guard skills. Chiaki helps his teammate Yasuhara by setting up an efficient screen. Momoharu passes the ball to Yasuhara; being nervous at the given moment, Yasuhara mises his layup. Kenji notices the missed layup, and he tips the ball in. Kuzuryu High expands their lead to two points. The score is 19 to 17.
A determined Kitasumi High try to answer back, Katori instructs his teammate Tachibana to go on offense. Tarou sees Sora guarding him again and then furiously gazes at him. Sora notices Katori’s pass to his teammate Hasebe and efficiently steals it. Sora then does a fake layup and passes it to Yasuhara, who then scores. Everyone at Kuzuryu High celebrates Yasuhara's first basket. Koga, to energize Tarou, jokingly teases that he is thinking of subbing him. Tarou angrily stares at his instructor and assures him not to worry, and he will prove his worth to everyone on the court.
Characters by Appearances
- Tarou Kabachi
- Ryuuhei Nabeshima
- Masahiro Saki
- Yasuhara Shinichi
- Nao Nanao
- Momoharu Hanazono
- Chiaki Hanazono
- Sora Kurumatani
- Manabu Konishi
- Shingo Katori
- Madoka Yabuchi
- Tokitaka Tokiwa (flashback)
- Storyboard: Shigeru Kimiya
- Director: Isao Han Yong
- Animation Director: Song Jinyoung, Kim Giyeop, Park Changhwan