Towards Victory (勝利に向かって, Shōri ni Mukatte) is the fourteenth 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.
A determined Sora heads out to find Masahiro and Nabeshima. At the start of his trip remembers that he forgot to ask his teammates about Masahiro’s and Nabe's residential address. He finds a public phonebooth nearby and recalls he doesn't have any currency to make a phone call. Sora decides to go back to school. As soon he is about to, coincidently, a depressed Nabe and Masahiro pass by him. Masahiro gives his opinion that both are so weak and helpless in life and general; the way those middle schoolers looked down on them felt terrible. As soon as Sora sees them, he stops them and asks when they intend to return to the Kuzuryu High. Masahiro responds that they are quitting the team, and Kenji was correct that he and Nabe would undoubtedly drag the entire team down. Sora responds that Kenji was a bit furious at them at the given moment, and they shouldn't take his opinion too personally. Masahiro asks Sora that since when he has been playing the sport of basketball. Sora responds that since he was three years old. A depressed Masahiro replies that they just got a real lesson about not underestimating the sport of basketball. At the current level, no matter how hard they train, they would never be able to catch up to a competitive level of high school basketball.
Afterwards, Nabe and Masahiro head back to their residence. The following day the two of them go to the nearby convenience store. While glancing over some magazines, Masahiro notifies Nabe that he feels bored and should eat some ramen. The two then go to the nearby Ramen Noodle restaurant. While eating ramen, both started conversing about their recent basketball game loss against the middle school kids and what they should have done to counter them. Midway through their discussion, Masahiro questions as to why they are conversing on basketball again. Afterward, the two of them go to the nearby park, and Nabe expresses his frustration that due to Golden Week, they still have eight days of holidays left, and the two of them have done everything in their free time, and again he feels bored. Nabe then informs Masahiro that basketball is indeed an interesting sport. Masahiro replies not to think about it, and they should spend some time at the arcade store.
As they are about to leave, the two of them see the middle school kid with his girlfriend. Upon seeing him, both get furious, and Nabe expresses his frustration that while in middle school, the teenager already has a girlfriend. Both then sneakingly eavesdrop on their conversation. The teenager then expresses his desire to his girlfriend upon enrolling in high school; he intends to make it into the Inter-High Tournament. Upon listening, his girlfriend replies that people who play sports are cool after all. On hearing both Nabe and Masahiro get energized and believe that they might also have a chance to get a girlfriend if they keep playing basketball. Masahiro then announces to Nabe, similar to the middle school kid, his goal upon playing basketball is to make it into the Inter-High Tournament.
Meanwhile, at Kuzuryu High, Sora and the rest of his teammates diligently follow Nao's training regimen. During their workout, Nao receives a phone call from Madoka, and she informs that Nabe and Masahiro are in a middle of a friendly basketball game against middle school kids. So, Nao and the rest of the Kuzuryu High squad head to the nearby park, and they see a determined Nabe and Masahiro. After making the layup shot, the middle school kid urges Masahiro that the game's outcome won't change, and he and his colleagues will win the match again. Upon hearing, Masahiro replies to the teenager not to get ahead of himself; the match is still ongoing, and he and Nabe haven't given up. However, Kenji, while watching tells Sora, that Nabe and Masahiro can't win the match under the given circumstance; the middle school kids have more experience than them. Both Nabe and Masahiro, frustrated by their futile attempts, notice that their tall height is their biggest disadvantage, which is causing the middle school kids to pass them and score. Masahiro then lowers his defensive stance in accordance with the teenager's height. Nao then notices that two of them are correctly doing the cross steps routine she taught them. Masahiro steals the ball from the middle school kid, Sora excitingly rushes and joins the game. Masahiro passes the ball to him, and Sora scores the point. The teenager questions Sora's involvement. Sora replies; he joined cause the match looked interesting and fun to him. Sora then asks Nabe and Masahiro again that isn't basketball interesting. Both confidently respond that indeed basketball is an interesting sport, and their goal is to reach the Inter-High Tournament. The two of them, with Sora's assistance, win the match. Later on, Kenji praised Nabe and Masahiro for their recent improvement in their defensive skills, and then all of them returned to Kuzuryu High.
It's the fifth day of the training camp, and Momoharu finally makes his return from being away due to sick leave. Before entering the school's court, he is confident that the team would be in an unorganized manner in his absence. Nevertheless, Momoharu furiously opens the door and gets astonished that all of his teammates are seriously practicing. Yasuhara, Masahiro, and Nabe are working on crossover step drills. Chiaki, along with Nao, oversees their training. As the experienced members of the team, Sora and Kenji take on the role of being the advisor. Kenji instructs Yasuhara to improve his speed in the exercise, and Sora suggests Nabe look straight ahead and not sideways; otherwise, his center of gravity would shift. Nao hands out Momoharu his separate training regimen. Chiaki notifies his brother for punishment; he would have to run 25 sets of laps with his hands up. Afterward, Nabe and Masahiro compliment each other on their recent significant improvement, and they praise Nao’s basic training workout.
Kenji, later on, helps out Yasuhara with his shooting skills. Kenji advises Yasuhara that one doesn’t need to jump high; the most important thing is timing, and when you jump, you stop in mid-air, and that is when you shoot. Instead of aiming for the basketball rim, aim for the square on the board. Kenji further explained that this same technique is used for jump shots and free throws. Later he tells Yasuhara to see Sora’s form and learn from it. Upon watching, Yasuhara is amazed at Sora’s shooting form and range and notices that Sora bends his knees a lot at the start of his shooting motion. Masahiro compliments Sora’s work ethic, and Nabe calls him a monster who practices making 1000 baskets every day.
After practice, a tired and exhausted Sora heads out and lies on the ground of the front doorsteps of the gym and stares at the pitch-dark skies of Kawasaki. Madoka also joins him and advises him not to fall asleep outside; otherwise, he will catch a cold. Sora replies, not worry; he won’t sleep outside and, upon seeing his enthusiastic teammates still training, he smiles. Seeing his excited expression, Madoka replies that it would be nice if the boys’ basketball team can make it into the Inter-High Tournament. Hearing Madoka’s response, Sora becomes happy and quietly compliments Madoka on her attractive appearance. Madoka then questions Sora, that all of a sudden, his face is red. Sora replies it's nothing, and he feels a bit tired. Later, the two of them head inside the gym. At the end of the training session, Nao notifies everyone that they will be focusing on strategic and tactics training in the remaining two days of their training camp. Momoharu advises Nao that they should at least have a practice game with another school on closing their training camp, and maybe they should ask Shinmaruko High. Nao doesn’t answer right away and remembers that she should ask a certain someone, referring to her cousin Tarou.
The next day at training camp Sora and his teammates focus on improving their passing skills. Nao instructs them to pass the ball to each other at least ten times before making their way to the basketball hoop. Upon seeing Yasuhara’s unbalanced form, Kenji advises him to snap his hands when passing the ball. Suddenly, Tarou makes a surprise appearance on the court and gives Nao a friendly hug. Upon witnessing, Chiaki gets jealous and questions Tarou about who he is? Tarou then introduces himself as Kitasumi High’s ace and Nao’s cousin, and to test out their skills, Taro chooses Nabe for a 1v1 friendly basketball challenge. Being an experienced player, Tarou quickly passes Nabe’s defence due to not wearing any basketball sneakers. Tarou slips on his layup attempt. Later, upon leaving, Tarou compliments Sora and his teammates that they have a nice basketball court and informs them he is looking forward to competing against them in the upcoming practice match.
After their recent meeting with Kitasumi High’s ace Tarou Kabachi, a determined Kuzuryu High prepares themselves mentally for the upcoming practice match. During their training session, Nao instructs her squad to work on improving their screening technique. Upon seeing Nabe’s improper screen, Nao informs him that he just did an offensive foul. Nabe then requests Nao to give him a proper explanation. Nao explains that screening is a legal block placed on the side of or behind a defender by an attacking player to allow a teammate to take a shot or receive a pass. Nao then advises Nabe and Masahiro that it is essential for them to learn the basics of the screen cause their team lacks players who can score. Upon hearing, both Nabe and Masahiro respond that they will not get involved in getting points for the team and instead focus on improving their defensive, passing, and ball-handling skills.
Sora guards Yasuhara, and he display’s his efficient dribbling skills. Upon seeing it, Kenji praises Yasuhara. Nao then notices that Yasuhara has a sense of a forward on the team. Madoka gives her opinion that the training camp has been beneficial for Sora and his teammates. Currently, the Inter-High Tournament seems like a vague goal, and it's good that they are only focusing on the upcoming practice match against Kitasumi High. Nao informs Madoka that Katsumi High is a veteran team in Kawasaki. In comparison to Kuzuryu High, they are a well-balanced team offensively and defensively. Since Tarou’s enrolment, their team has gained significant improvement, especially in scoring points.
Madoka believes that the boys’ team has improved and will not be in a similar situation as they were against Shinmaruko High, and with Nao’s training regimen Sora and his teammates have a chance to win the match. After the conclusion of their practice session, Nao informs that Kenji and Sora will be the heart of their offense, and the other players will focus on defense, assist in passing and creating efficient screens. Upon hearing, Kenji replies that their team at maximum can attain up to 70 points at the current level. Meaning he can score about 30 points, Sora 20 points, and others overall 20 points. While hearing, Nao responds their team lacks defense, and Sora's height is a considerable disadvantage. However, they can’t sub him out because he is their primary point-getter. Therefore, to attain the perfect defense, Nao instructs Sora to work on his footwork training. The following day Sora, practices on his footwork training, and others work on improving their screening. Upon conclusion of their training session, a tired Sora heads to the hand wash station. Nao meets him and apologizes to Sora for not letting him work on his shooting skills. Sora replies he can understand, and it's for the sake of victory. Upon concluding, Sora expresses his desire that he intends to win this particular match.
Characters by Appearances
- Sora Kurumatani
- Masahiro Saki
- Ryuuhei Nabeshima
- Yasuhara Shinichi
- Nao Nanao
- Madoka Yabuchi
- Kenji Natsume
- Chiaki Hanazono
- Momoharu Hanazono
- Tarou Kabachi (debut)
- Storyboard: Takeshi Mori
- Director: Yasuyuki Fuse
- Animation Director: Park Changhwan, Kim Jinyeong