Oh hey, a badminton anime. You don’t see that very often.
I guess Hanebado! is a glaring omission from my radar and my Summer 2018 Season Preview. Once I started seeing a bunch of tweets from Crunchyroll, I realized that this must be enjoying a healthy amount of anticipation. I guess putting anime on the wayside during this past spring must’ve made me rusty. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with going into something completely blind and ultimately, I did get curious about this show.
From the get go, I think Hanebado‘s two main characters have made pretty strong first impressions. Nagisa Aragaki (Miyuri Shimabukuro) admittedly comes across as the least likable of the two though that appears to be the point. She’s a hardworking and hyper-competitive badminton player and those traits have seemingly increased tenfold after her big defeat a year ago. It’s despicable just how much she treats her fellow club members like dirt but you at least get where she’s coming from and it’s definitely bold of the show to take this sort of angle.
Conversely, Ayano Hanesaki (Hitomi Owada) is sympathetic from the start. She’s a prodigy at the sport; in fact, she’s the one who defeated Nagisa (what a coincidence that they both go to same high school). For whatever reason though, Ayano has given up on the sport and the very idea of coming back to it frightens her. She doesn’t interact a whole lot with Nagisa this episode but it’s clear that she’d be the perfect foil for the latter and I think Hanebado! has something potentially compelling here.
I’m a little mixed on the supportive cast. Some of them could be summed as bunch of tropes and are currently just in the backgrounds. The coach would’ve been fine if not for his perversions (how did the club adviser not find out about that?). I think the two that really baffled me the most was Riko and Elena who are respectively Nagisa’s and Ayano’s friends. I get that Riko is giving Nagisa some space but the latter was pretty much a bully during badminton club. That’s not something that should get a pass. Elena, meanwhile, annoyed the hell out of me with how she was dragging poor Ayano into joining the badminton club. Like, there’s coercing a friend into doing something and then there’s making her go through something that might’ve traumatized her. She even had the audacity to convince the club to play a match for Ayano’s membership. I think it’s safe to say that Elena is a terrible person.
By far, the most appealing part of Hanebado! so far are the visuals. Props to studio Liden Films for employing such dynamic camera angles and slick motions whenever there’s a game going on. The match between Ayano and Nagisa at the beginning of the episode felt really intense as a result. You really feel the power of their swings and how quickly they react to each other’s moves. Even during quieter and less action intensive moments, the show just looks pretty, complete with natural looking lighting and overall clean line work. Effort is clearly being poured in every scene. The only nitpick I have is maybe how often the show likes to sneak in some fanservice shots though even that is admittedly well drawn.
I’m curious to learn about why Ayano doesn’t want to return to badminton and what kind of relationship she’ll have Nagisa so I’ll give Hanebado! the three episode rule.
OP: “Futari no Hane” by YURiKA
Wow, what a stylish OP! The diluted coloring for the action shots looked really cool, even if the OP repeats it for some reason. I think my favorite part though is when Ayano walks over the net with a blank stare and sees various badminton players (including herself) in rapid succession before cutting to her and Nagisa.
Thanks for reading!