What’s the show? Hanebado! Episode 5.
So another episode of the Badminton girls, huh? How’s this episode fare? It’s good… I mean, well you know…
Know what? Well I’ve spent so long waiting for some sports anime action and now that it’s come I’m not sure how to feel about it…
Oh so we get something resembling an ~actual~ match? Well we did a bit last week and its just picking up from last episode, but the second half of the match between Ayano and her “big sister” Connie is pretty damn tense—if not the least very well animated and dynamic to watch!
And yet you’re not sure how to feel about this for some reason? Ugh, I don’t know… I just feel like I’ve seen this all before which I know—sure I shouldn’t be complaining about cliché’s in anime—and in sports anime of all things—as that’s what I was expecting all along but now it’s here I’ve got this strange sense of ambivalence about some of it.
Care to elaborate? I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed the character development of the first 3 episodes until I was berated with the sports anime tropes that came with this episode. And that’s not to say there aren’t good sports things that happen in this episode—when Ayano loses her match against Connie she’s in disbelief, she makes excuses, but it’s all because she’s afraid of being abandoned like she was by her mother and that’s gorgeously heartbreaking, and the fact that even the ‘coldest’ of her teammates comes to pay her a compliment on her game was such a nice moment. But there’s also this sense that none of this takes place in a tangible reality, which given both the amount of character development and that it’s around something as grounded as sport feels like an oversight.
Again… care to elaborate? Hmm, it’s hard, really hard to criticise this show because it is a quality show in so many ways—I’ve not spoken about it before but the incidental soundtrack on this show is intricate, complimentary, stirring and downright flawless. But our main antagonist, Connie, doesn’t feel like someone who would exist in the real world, and I don’t know, maybe grounded antagonists make for boring villains but given how much time and effort was put into our protagonists the two-dimensional villainous posturing feels downright silly. Especially compared to the actual highlight of the episode—at least as far as Connie and the competing team is concerned.
Oh and what is this “actual highlight” you speak of? Well Connie goes to have a bath with her teammates—
—I’m gonna stop you right there. You seriously about to tell me that you’re favourite part of this sports anime is the part where a bunch of girls get their clothes off? Yes.
…I don’t even know why I bother at this point… Are you going to let me explain or are you just going to pre-judge me?
Fine. Go on then… So Connie goes for a bath with her teammates and it’s all naked ogling and groping and fun times and for the first and almost only time this episode Connie feels like a human-being and not some Saturday morning cartoon villain. I mean say what you want about the validity of these kinds of shenanigans in anime in general and whether women actually behave like this in ‘locker rooms’ etc. but she felt like a part of the team—which let’s face it is the entire point of these types of anime. It’s not about being the best ‘singular’ it’s being about the best ‘as a team’. It’s about camaraderie and friendship, just like the bus scene in the last episode and just like the brief but substantial moments with Ayano after her loss.
All right, fair enough. So anything else you want to add? Anyone else think that rival team had a lot of girls with really nice racks? No? Just me?
Jeez! Sorry I asked… Ultimately, all jokes aside (am I even joking?—I don’t even know anymore—I’ve become a perverted parody of myself, send help!) this show could really take a leaf out of Haikyu’s book, I may not have been the biggest fan of that show but it at least felt realistic—especially in its portrayal of rivals—which is what they should be, and not ‘villains’. I still like this show more than Haikyu for ~reasons~ but admit there are flaws that need to be fixed if it wants to stand the test of time among other great sports anime.
Previous Hanebado! Reviews:
Sports Anime + Cute Girls = A Better Sports Anime – Episode 1 Review
Emotional Flashbacks & Sausages on Sticks – Episode 2 Review
A Smash To The Feels – Episode 3 Review
Sibling Rivalry – Episode 4 Review
If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!