Hanebado!

Hanebado!

Hanebado! anime cover art
Hanebado! Cover Art

Overview

Hanebado! was one of two sports anime I watched this Summer season, the other being Harukana Receive. But, despite them both being sports anime, these two series couldn’t have been more different from one another.

If you’re looking for a sports anime that’s more of a slice of life, then Harukana Receive is for you, but if you want a true sports anime, then Hanebado! should be more your style. But, that’s not to say it’s all sports all the time, there’s plenty of drama as well.

Hanebado! is, first and foremost, a badminton anime. It excels at the action sequences which make up the matches, and these scenes had some of the best animation of anything that came out this season. I’d include a gif like I used to in order to illustrate this, but gifs take up a lot of bandwidth so instead I’ll just link to one here.

The series starts off following two girls as they search for a club to join at their new high school. They end up joining the badminton club because one girl used to play, and the other wants her to pick the sport up again because she remembers how much fun she used to have.

However, apparently badminton triggers PTSD flashbacks for the girl who used to play and over the course of the series she devolves into a monster, taking down any and everyone who gets in her way. Before long, you actually find yourself rooting for the initial antagonist, and against the protagonist, which was an interesting twist.

In classic sports anime fashion, both of these girls (the protagonist and antagonist) end up facing each other in the finals of the tournament. I won’t spoil which one of them wins, because it was honestly hard to predict; it could easily have gone either way based on everything that happened in the series up to that point.

What I will spoil, however, is the ending after the final match. There was some real animosity between the two players, but after the match ends it seems that they’re suddenly friends. I think it had something to do with “we had fun playing badminton together so we’re friends now,” but that’s pretty lame if you ask me.

This was supposed to be a match that decided fates, and yet, afterwards it was like nothing had ever happened in the first place. It was an exciting final match to watch, but the stakes suddenly disappeared after it was over, so it didn’t really mean anything.

Also, winning that final match didn’t mean anything tangible anyway. Both players were moving on to nationals simply by being in the finals, so winning was only as important as each player wanted it to be. As it turns out, winning was the most important thing for both of them.


Characters

Let’s start off the characters section with one of the characters who seems like she’s going to be important, but actually isn’t: Erena Fujisawa. Erena is Ayano’s best friend and the one who forces her to join the badminton club against her will because Ayano used to play it when she was younger.

At the beginning of the series (basically just the first episode or two) it’s easy to mistake Erena for a main character who’s going to have some meaningful role as the anime progresses. However, instead of playing badminton, Erena chooses to become the club manager, much like Akari from Harukana Receive.

From then on, Erena is basically just a background character who has even less screen time than the other members of the badminton club whose names I don’t even remember. It’s a shame, because Erena had a pretty good character design, although that may just be because she was always in her school uniform.

The protagonist of the series, or antagonist depending on how you view her, is Ayano Hanesaki. Ayano is Erena’s best friend and a former badminton player. She quit playing badminton after her mother, a professional player, abandoned Ayano after she lost in a tournament as a child.

At the beginning of the series, Ayano simply doesn’t want to get back into playing badminton, but by the end, she’s a ruthless competitor who looks down on anyone else around her whether they’re friend or foe. Below, she’s pictured telling an opponent to forfeit because she “can’t possibly win.”

Every time a new antagonist is introduced in the series, they’re set up to be some larger-than-life evil, but at the end of the day, it’s actually Ayano who’s the evil one. The more I think about it, the more I see just how striking the similarities are between how Ayano’s opponents are presented, and how she acts towards them.

Ayano Hanesaki from the anime Hanebado!
Ayano Hanesaki

The primary antagonist, or protagonist, is Nagisa Aragaki. Nagisa is tall and extremely strong, which has caused people to make excuses for why she’s so good at badminton for her whole life. All she wants to do is prove that she isn’t good because she’s tall, she’s good because she puts in a lot of work.

Initially, Nagisa’s drive to be the best made her off-putting and scared away the other members of the badminton team. However, early on she learns that while badminton is a primarily solo sport, there’s a reason it still involves teams. She discovers the power of friendship.

While Ayano is still considered the protagonist throughout the story, and the non-badminton portions are focused on her, Nagisa is the one who the viewers are rooting for. She’s not an underdog, but she’s relatable because she has something to prove.

Nagisa also has a knee injury from playing too much badminton, which comes to the forefront of the series in the second half. Further injuring her knee could end her badminton career, but she can’t forfeit a match when her pride is on the line either.

The final character from the “home team” (I don’t remember the names of the various schools) who I want to talk about is Coach Tachibana. Before becoming the badminton coach for the school, Kentarou Tachibana was a professional player who cut his career short due to an injury.

While he quit playing badminton professionally before his injury had the chance to end his career for him, he knows all too well how serious injuries such as Nagisa’s knee injury are. He seems to favor her over the rest of the team because he sees her potential, but also wants to make sure she can continue to play the sport she loves.

When it comes to injuries, Coach Tachibana’s motto would probably be “live to fight another day.” From his perspective, it’s not worth potentially ending your career over a single game, especially when that game isn’t career defining, such as the final match between Ayano and Nagisa.

I could go through all of Ayano’s rivals one by one and briefly discuss each one, but instead I’ve decided to just pick one of the more important rivals (other than Nagisa). Connie Cristensen is set up to be a primary antagonist of the series, but her arc is finished surprisingly early on.

She’s the adopted daughter of Uchika Hanesaki, Ayano’s mother. After Uchika abandoned her real daughter, she left Japan and moved to Denmark (I think) where she found and adopted Connie because she saw her potential to become a great badminton player.

While it’s originally set up that Connie wants to defeat Ayano and prove to their mother that she’s the superior daughter, we later learn that this isn’t really the case. Instead, Connie traveled to Japan to play against Ayano specifically so she could meet her and the two of them could become a family together.

Ayano sees Connie as a replacement for herself, but Connie sees Ayano as her older sister who she wants to be accepted by. I kind of feel bad for Connie because she’s rejected by Ayano, and it feels like Uchika adopted her simply to groom her into a rival to make Ayano stronger.

Conclusion

Of the two sports anime I watched this season, Hanebado! was the better one with a rating of 6/10. I really enjoyed the shifting dynamic between Ayano and Nagisa, but the conclusion to their relationship was fairly lackluster.

The writer also did a great job at making Ayano an extremely unlikable character, but at times I felt like this went a bit too far to the point that it detracted from the main draw of the series, the action sequences. Interpersonal drama is good and all, but what we really want to see is more of that crisp action animation.

This is the point of the post where I typically link to the anime’s OP, but I’ve actually already written an entire post which breaks down the OP of Hanebado!, so I’ll link to that here instead. That post includes a video of the OP embedded into the post itself, along with multiple images.

Be sure to click the like button down below if you enjoyed this post, and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on this series. Do you want a second season? I don’t think it needs one, but I’d definitely give it a watch if it was made.

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