What’s the show? Hanebado! Episode 1.
And what’s it about? It’s about Badminton!
Wait, what? Sports?! But you ~dislike~ sports anime?! Why are you watching this? It’s women’s high school Badminton.
Ohh~ that explains everything… Excuse me? What exactly are you inferring by that?
That you’ll watch anything as long as it’s got cute anime girls in it. That is why you’re watching this particular sports anime and not any of the other ones that aired in previous anime seasons, right? For the record, I went into greater detail in my Scorching Ping Pong Girls review as to why I don’t tend to like male sports anime. But for those who don’t want to read it all the gist of it is, I grew up in a country where male athletes were idolised over every other career, that made me cynical and jaded towards all male sports to the point were I grew resentful of their existence. Also, women’s sports should be given equal focus in the media and by people in general—it’s not so hence why I gravitate towards it whenever it pops up in anime.
Also cute anime girls? Fine! Also cute anime girls, so sue me, I like to watch cute girls playing sport.
Well as long as you admit it, we can get moving along… Finally…
So… badminton, eh? Not exactly the most exciting of sports. Well it’s no Tennis but I found what little we saw of the sport enjoyable enough, not to mention supremely well-animated. Aesthetically—and solely aesthetically I must stress—I got a bit of a Yuri on Ice vibe from this show.
“what little we saw”? Is there not much sports in this sports anime? The first episode is more focused on establishing the characters and the first arc’s conflict, I’m glad they’ve done it this way because I already empathise with a couple of characters—which is going to be essential for this show to be a success.
And who are the characters? Well there’s a few of them so I’ll just focus on the four I consider to be important to this episode. Nagisa is the captain of the school’s Badminton team, she’s a passionate girl who wants to be the best at Badminton at any cost, but she’s currently in a slump and is unfortunately taking out her frustrations on the rest of the team. Her vice captain is Satoko and she tries to support Nagisa as much as she can, she seems like a kind, supportive and level-headed girl. Then there’s Ayano who, for reasons that’ll be revealed eventually doesn’t like Badminton anymore despite being an absolute ace at it. And then… *sigh*
What? What is it with these female sports anime and having a male coach who makes the worst first impression imaginable and immediately has me disliking his character? First there was Trainer-san in Uma Musume and now there’s Kentarou in Hanebado!
(Uma Musume’s not a sports anime) What did you say?!
Nothing, nothing… So what does he do wrong? Just like in Uma Musume, Kentarou goes ahead and touches a girl (her hands in this instance) without the girl’s permission without even introducing himself! I mean I get it, it’s “funny”, the ensuing comments on the court and later in the gym bring about the only levity in what is a pretty ~serious~ toned episode but if the only reason for it was for comedic effect then get a better sense of humour! It wasn’t funny in Pretty Derby (an actual comedy) and it’s only mildly amusing here because of the contrast to the rest of the episode.
So are you not sold on his character then? Is this going to be ‘an issue’? No, it’s fine, he’s ~fine~ I’m just annoyed at the laziness of it from a writing perspective.
Fair enough. What’s your verdict on the first episode of Hanebado? It seems like simultaneously a lot happens and not much happens in this first episode, I do get a sense of where the show is going and I like the characters quite a bit as well as the character designs! It’s got a surprisingly strong emotional heart—even this early on which could bode well for the future or could become over-bearing if it’s constantly hammered home. It reminded me a bit of the only male sports anime I’ve watched, Haikyuu, which isn’t a bad thing—I’m just hoping this balances the sport/life elements of the show better than that show did, which it does seem to be doing so far. Also anyone who thinks this show is ecchi is incorrect, but then again I’ve got the highest possible tolerance for ecchi so maybe I’m not the best judge of these things! I will be continuing with this series and look forward to see how it develops!
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