Not everyone will like everything but I do find myself a bit bummed out that the Hanebado! bandwagon is eluding me. I do really want to like this series and nothing about it seems godawful to me but there’s just something about the writing and execution that holds the whole show back to me.
In a vacuum, the introduction and character of Connie Christensen (Mariya Ise) is perfectly fine. A girl trained under Ayano’s mom who goes abroad in Japan just so that she can rub it in our hero’s face that she’s the “favorite child” by besting her in badminton. You couldn’t think of a better antagonist or foil than that. Introducing Connie now though is strange. We just met one rival with a hate crush for Ayano and now there’s another one? They both have twintails even! Come on, really? What was the mindset behind that decision? “Just change the hair color from pink to blonde, no one will notice!”.
It would serve Hanebado! better (pun not intended) if Connie was saved for much later. Have Ayano get her revenge on Kauroko in a tournament or something, have that pique Connie’s interest, and then pit the character as a “final boss” for our protagonist. Having the introduction here feels like the show is showing its cards far too preemptively.
I could let the timing slide if Connie’s introduction was at least well-executed but it really wasn’t. Much of this episode is just one coincidence after another. To begin with, Connie setting up this long awaited match with Ayano requires some insane foresight on her part. Forget the fact that she went to Japan for a hate crush, how did she know what school Ayano went to? How did she know what training camp the Kitakomachi Bad club was attending? How did she even know Ayano would in the bad club in the first place? Remember, this anime’s protagonist was on the verge of quitting just one episode ago. At least Kauroko would naturally keep tabs on Ayano. What kind of black magic did Connie cast to figure all this stuff out?
There’s also the big connection getting dragged out in order to achieve maximum drama. The fact that Ayano doesn’t recognize Connie despite knowing her mom took on a prodigy and even saw a picture of the two together is fine. Apparently, at the time, Connie had yet to rip off Kauroko’s hairstyle. I also understand wanting to save the reveal for the end but the build up felt so scripted. Ayano just so happens to run into Connie while looking for a convenience store and the two somehow speak so indirectly about themselves that no one connects the dots until much later. That is some contrived bullshit right there. It’s more calculated than stinking computer algorithms.
By the way, what’s with the whole “team” talk in this episode? I suppose Ayano needs something to fuel her resolve that isn’t “Notice Me Mom” but why the hell does Connie care about that? It’s not even like “teamwork” is the long standing foundation of Ayano’s relationship with badminton. Connie wanting to crumble it down doesn’t carry much weight since it’s an entirely new thing for Ayano. My impression is that Connie sees her rival working with Riko and was like “Yeah, I’ll go with that to get under her skin.”. That’s so stinking silly. I mean, is donning Ayano’s mother’s trademark hairdo and ribbon at the end not enough of a middle finger?
I don’t even get why this match is even team-based. It’s all about Ayano vs. Connie; you could’ve easily just had those two duke it out. I guess the takeaway is finding out how much an ego Connie has for taking on both Ayano and Riko solo but it feels so gimmicky to me. One on one matches look amazing already, Hanebado! doesn’t need to add a twist to get viewers excited.
Oh and there’s now a love triangle going on between Yu, Sora, and Hayama. This matters because….shut up, this show needs to make these side characters relevant in some way. Moving on.
To be fair, you could probably do something interesting with where this episode leaves things off. Maybe Ayano snaps and returns to her zombie state like she did in the show’s prologue. Maybe Nagisa takes Riko’s place because goddamn it, these characters need to interact more. That’s the thing about Hanebado!; it consistently gives me a glimmer of hope regarding what it’s in store. It just needs to live up to that promise…
Thanks for reading!