The Ugly Duckling (みにくいあひるの子, Minikui ahiru no ko) is the first episode of the Ahiru no Sora anime. The opening theme is Happy Go Ducky! which is performed by the pillows. The ending theme is Tsubasa which is performed by saji.
Sora is determined to join the basketball club, but the club's members are determined to goof off instead of practice. Sora's solution? A five-on-one game, winner takes all!
Sora Kurumatani a small boy with a strong heart, passion, and desire to play basketball. Enters Kuzuryu High with an unfortunate circumstance. As he makes his way to high school, Kurumatani bumps into some random street thugs under the Kawasaki bridge. Due to Sora's smaller than average height, the delinquents assume that he is from elementary school and demands Kurumatani to hand over his money and valuable possessions. Sora, not being fazed by their height and numbers, challenges them to a brawl. The random street thugs easily overpower Kurumatani and take his 1,200 yen; while receiving a beating, Sora doesn't give up on his prized possession, his basketball shoes. Chiaki Hanazono, a sophomore from Kuzuryu High, watches all the drama unfold and makes his way to meet Sora.
As he approaches Sora, Chiaki's stomach starts to make odd sounds, and he asks Sora if he has any nourishment to offer. Sora seeing Chiaki's tall and muscular physique, he hands over his remaining curry buns. While consuming the curry buns, Chiaki shows Sora a picture of Tomo, a high school sophomore girl who on the phone agreed to go on a date with him. Unfortunately, she never shows up. Chiaki tells him that he could wait 24 hours every day and Tomo would never show up. Hearing Chiaki's heartfelt sorrow, Sora furiously excuses himself and tries to make his way to Kuzuryu High. Chiaki stops him and nicknames Sora, ' Mister no-height.' Sora tells Chiaki angrily not to make nicknames of him randomly.
Chiaki asks Sora while receiving that furious beating from those troublemakers; he didn't hand over his bag pack and requests what is inside it. Sora tells him inside his bag pack are his wings, referring to his basketball shoes. Chiaki, unable to understand, pushes Sora towards the river bank. Sora, not knowing how to swim, struggles and manages to makes his way back to the staircase where Chiaki is seated. Sora tells him he has been in these kinds of brawls before, and no matter how many people he is facing, he never runs away. Chiaki smiles at him and expresses his desire to teach him how to fight. Before Chiaki could do that, a remote-control airplane on point-blank range collides with his forehead and stuns him out. Sora witnessing that terrible incident, makes his way to Kuzuryu High.
Sora attends the school’s entrance ceremony, and before going towards his classroom, makes his way to the basketball court. Sora puts on his basketball sneakers and excitingly starts to practice. While dribbling, Kuzuryu High's ferocious troublemakers led by infamous Momoharu Hanazono make their way on the court. Similar to others Momoharu assumes Sora for being an elementary school kid. Momoharu Hanazono and his companions take Sora to the locker room. Momoharu then notices Sora is wearing their school’s uniform. Momoharu questions Sora why he was practicing? Momoharu further states that the basketball court is his turf, and no one can enter the basketball court without seeking his permission. Momoharu and his companions angrily exit the locker room and, for punishment, locks up Sora. To pass his time, Sora starts to clean the untidy locker room. While doing that, he notices a small hole in the wall of the locker room. He peeks inside it and notices it is a peeking hole that leads to the next-door basketball girl's locker room. Sora furiously screams and makes his way back to the peeking hole and falls in affection to Madoka Yabuchi, a sophomore who plays for the Kuzuryu High girls' team.
Meanwhile, Chiaki makes his presence felt in the locker room, and Sora questions him how did he manage to get inside. Chiaki informs Sora that he was inside the locker room before him and was sleeping inside one of the cabinets. Chiaki then warns Sora of Momoharu and tells him that he should stay away from the school's basketball court. The boys' basketball team is home to the Kuzuryu High's fierce troublemakers, and the current members of the team don't let anyone practice. Hearing Chiaki's caution, Sora doesn't get fazed by it and expresses his desire to still go out on the court and practice. Chiaki listening to Sora's passion for basketball tells Sora he admires people who refuse to give up even if the odds are stacked against them. Chiaki makes his way to the front door of the locker and smashes it. Both of them make their way to the basketball court and sees Madoka and her teammates practicing.
As they watch them practice, Chiaki introduces Madoka to Sora and tells him she is the ace and gem of the girls' basketball team. Sora nervously heads towards the court. Madoka approaches him and notifies Sora of the lurking dangers of the boys' basketball team. Before Chiaki and Sora could start their practice, Momoharu and his friends make their intimidating presence felt on the court. Momoharu tells Sora that he furiously hates people who break his rules. For punishment, Momoharu and his friends beat up Sora and forcefully take his basketball shoes. While lying unconscious on the ground, Sora recalls the moment when his mother gifted him her prized basketball shoes. Madoka approaches him and asks Sora if he is okay. Sora furiously gets up and tries to fight Momoharu and his gang to hand over his prized possession.
Sora being unsuccessful in fighting them off, Momoharu informs Sora that he will throw his shoes in the incarcerator. Chiaki, upon hearing that, forcefully stops Momoharu, and the both of them get into a small friendly, brotherly bout. After the conclusion of the brawl, Sora challenges the current members to a basketball match. The rule for the game is simple, 5-on-1 match, and if Sora loses, he will stop playing high school basketball. The game starts, and Sora quickly grabs the low tip-off. Everyone on the court is amazed by Sora's swiftness, Momoharu guards him, and Sora quickly passes him with a clever fake. Madoka and Masahiro try to stop him; Sora steps back, and due to his short height and thin physique, he swiftly passes them. Madoka and the girls' team refer to Sora's diving low technique to a 'duckling.' Meaning his movements have become like a duck as it dives underwater. While watching Sora's incredible basketball skills, Chiaki understood what Sora meant by 'these are my wings,' which references his basketball shoes.
Characters by Appearances
- Sora Kurumatani
- Chiaki Hanazono
- Momoharu Hanazono
- Masahiro Saki
- Ryuuhei Nabeshima
- Yasuhara Shinichi
- Madoka Yabuchi
- Yuka Kurumatani (flashback)
- Storyboard: Shingo Tamaki
- Director: Shingo Tamaki
- Animation Director: Mino Honda, Mayuko Matsumoto