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  • Your mom's giant robot
  • Joined Jul 28, 2018
  • 31 / M


Oct 5, 2018

The problem with Hanebado! is that it tries to do too much with too little. There are three – count ‘em – three things this show has going for it, and those are its animation, its opening song, and Aragaki Nagisa. That doesn’t sound like much, I know, but if you have to finish something as unnecessarily gloomy as this, you’ll have to latch onto all of the happy things you can get.

Looking at the show’s poster, marketing, and summary, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was your standard sports show. But dip your toes into its world, and you’ll find badminton is actually a very dreary thing that brings no joy to the people playing it. It follows that Hanebado’s leads should be the same way. Having Nagisa and Ayano as the main characters should have made for a compelling clash of ideals and rich contrasts; instead, their opposite personalities make it clear the show doesn’t actually know what to do with itself.  

One of its most glaring problems is its inconsistent tone. One minute, it’s a classic sports story with Nagisa as the lead, then a dark psychological drama starring Ayano the next. Hanebado comes armed with a checklist of all the genre tropes, but in a desperate bid to stand out, it goes all-in on the angst and edge. It might have been gunning for a more realistic take on the classic sports story, but because it’s tragic to the point of comedy, Hanebado only succeeds in making itself the laughingstock of the season.

Okay, so maybe that was a bit much. But if there’s anything that nearly proves this, it’s the way this show handles its characters. Villains never stay villains for long, because after they’re introduced in the most hateful way possible, Hanebado suddenly does all it can to make them sympathetic and – dare I say it – likeable. The only consistent force in the entire series is Nagisa, so it makes sense that her arc’s the one worth following and not Ayano’s.

The good stuff now: the animation sequences are definitely way up there in terms of execution, fluidity, and choreography. Once the athletes hit the courts, you’ll nearly forget about all the other dreary things happening in their personal lives. Hanebado shines when it’s all about the game and not the unnecessary drama that happens beyond it. This is why Nagisa works so well as a protagonist. Although the show becomes more standard and safer when the focus shifts to her, the story gains more solid, familiar ground when this happens.

The key issue here is balance. It’s something the show lacks, and it’s obvious in the way it doubles down on Ayano’s angst and seems to breeze through Nagisa’s journey like it’s an afterthought. You’d think increasing the episode count would help the show resolve its problems, but then again, a longer runtime might be the last thing you’d want from a gloomfest like this. If it sounds like I’m voicing a preference for the safer, more generic formula of sports anime, then know I’m only doing this because it got downright painful to watch this show cut itself open from the edge it so desperately wanted to own. Does Hanebado hate being a sports anime? Sure seems like it, what with the way it treated the material that could have at least made it coherent.

In the world of Hanebado, nothing is earned, the stakes are all made up, and nobody cops any consequences. Conflicts happen for no real reason and when they do, you’ll wonder what the characters did to deserve such a depressing storyline. Badminton is Serious Business, and unlike other series that might encourage you to take up the sport they’re portraying, Hanebado’s only good for showing how big a burden its sport is and why it ruins people’s lives.

2/10 story
8/10 animation
5/10 sound
2/10 characters
4/10 overall

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