Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi is probably one of the most over-looked series of the spring 2011 season, and why wouldn’t it be? The story is about Kazuma and his younger brother Ayumu, who move to an inn located in the mountains. The move to the mountains introduces them to a flock of beautiful girls, and even more are brought into the picture when they start attending school.
Obviously, Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi is a school harem anime. Just the thought of that genre probably turned off a lot of people, but I didn’t think it was too bad. Over a decade ago, a VN/anime called “To Heart” set the standard for school harems. Hoshizora seemingly took all the basics from the To Heart era and brought them back to life.
So besides having a school and a harem what exactly are the basics of school harems? The next step is to cover all of the major character types. The harem should include at least: a childhood friend, the best friend of the childhood friend, a tomboy, the school idol (or idols), and a loli. The male lead should also have forgotten some memories regarding the childhood friend. The next thing a school harem anime needs is a male character to act as the class clown. This character always befriends the male lead and fails at flirting with the girls. Another staple of school harem anime are beach and school festival episodes. The former acts as an excuse to show off all the girls in bikinis while the latter is used to progress an arc. That brings me to the next point: every series has an arc devoted to a specific girl. The girl that the main character chooses always gets hers last. If the character you like gets her arc before the last 3 episodes, then she’s not the lucky girl. The last thing a school harem needs is a twist. To Heart had android girls, and Kanon had spirits – Hoshizora has a loli otouto.
This anime follows the basics of school harems right down to the letter, and why wouldn’t it? It’s a winning formula. You’re probably wondering though, if it follows the script so closely, shouldn’t it only be an average anime at best? What makes Hoshizora good are the sweet stories and a solid male character. Kazuma creates a deeper connection with one of the girls in every arc through acts of chivalry and being there for emotional support. For anyone who has watched Clannad, you’ll know that while its the girls that draw the attention, it’s the man that pulls the story. This is what many school harem anime fail to achieve; creating male characters that are simply pretty-boys or worse, characters with no redeeming qualities that magically attract all the girls. By creating a character that girls would drool over, Hoshizora invokes a sense of realism and brings the story to life.
Besides having all the necessary character types and story, the anime was also visually appealing. I loved the clean character designs and the multi-colour shading in the eyes. The animation quality was exceptional, especially the stream in the forest during Madoka’s arc.
The only complaint I have about the series was the lead-up to the final arc. While it’s difficult to fit in several arcs into 12 episodes, they could have added in a few more minutes of bonding between Kazuma and the girl he chooses to make it less sudden. The confession scene in the final episode could have had a few improvements such as a bit of internal monologue or even just a heartbeat sound effect.
The sad thing is that this anime is in the wrong era. In the midst of the current moe slice-of-life boom, the school harems of old don’t stand a chance against overly cute characters and the significant lack of testoterone. Indeed, the thing that once drew many fans to this genre (lots of cute girls) has now taken them away. I still enjoyed Hoshizora though, and if you’ve been sitting on the fence on this series, then I hope you consider giving it a go.
For anyone wondering, my favourite girls in order are: Ibuki, Madoka, Tsumugi, Kasane, Ui, Senka (the inn owner), Hina, and Koyori.