Rivals Are Better Than Villains – ‘Hanebado!’ Episode 5 Review

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!

Nice recieve.

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.

Let me know when you’re done being a cartoon villain, I’ll be waiting.

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—

This is the same show apparently.

—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.

Another rare, purely ‘nice’ team-building moment of the episode.

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.

Just when I thought we’d fixed the girl, Connie goes and messes her up again! Glad we spent those 3+ episodes getting her into a good head space!

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


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5 comments

  1. I saw your post for this early this morning at work, and skipped it, because I had not yet watched the episode. I just completed it, and when I saw the bath scene I pretty much knew that in some way this would be featured in your post lol😂😂
    Seriously though…this was a fun episode, and the match really was incredibly tense. I felt myself getting more and more angry as well…and this from a guy who hates sports. I’m beginning to wonder if that’s true though lol.
    You are not kidding about the soundtrack by the way: it really is great! As was this post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you, and had mentioned it before. Why do the “bad girls” need to be such assholes? I mean, I can kind of appreciate Kaoruko being a more comic-relief type of villain, but Connie was just ridiculously bad. And the way that the show spent time humanizing her, just to have her ruin that with her heel turn at the end, really sucked. And it also sucked the way that Ayano reacted, with kind of the feeling like everyone else would be “So we spend all this time supporting you, and you just end up going crazy anyway, huh? Glad we bothered.”

    And I still don’t get why Connie is playing the Mom contest. She already freakin’ won it. It’s hard to believe that she can come up with any grievance against Ayano that justifies her attitude towards her. It just makes her more and more of a horrible person to either further rub it in or feel like she has to steal Ayano’s mom away MORE than she already has.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also start to wonder if this is going to be one of those sports shows where the protagonist turns “bad” for a while. It doesn’t really work if you ask me, and it doesn’t make the show any more epic or anything, just makes it feel bleh in the middle (the main experience I’ve had with that in anime is Stella Jogakuin C3-bu, a show about airsoft survival games. If you haven’t seen it, you should at least watch the first episode, which is pretty much the best of the show).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. I’ve not really experienced any ‘protagonist turns bad for a while’ anime so I might enjoy it more–hadn’t heard of that other show so I’ll add it to the watch list!

      Like

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