Nov 18, 2018
PowerUpOrDie (All reviews)
Hanebado is an anime about tennis' decidedly less popular cousin that gets some things very right and other things very wrong.


It's been pointed out elsewhere so I won't belabor the point, but the pacing of Hanebado - the speed at which the story is told- is so fast you'd think it was strapped to the front of a Bullet Train. A lot of the traditional plot points of a sports anime are rapid-fired at you, just to point out one example, by the halfway point of this 13 episode series we already have major characters playing their final high school badminton matches- it's portrayed as this momentous event but we've had so little time to actually get to know the cast that you can be left feeling "Wait, what, we're already HERE?" Now I'm not saying it's wrong for a sports series to have a faster pace than average (one of my chief complaints about the sports genre is its often extremely decompressed storytelling which can leave you having to trudge through volume after volume of manga to reach the next significant plot point) but you can go too far in the other direction.


Now I do have to give Hanebado credit here, the series looks GOOD. Perhaps not the *very* best thing I've ever seen, but this is higher-end animation quality. I especially respect the fact that TOHO Animation used a lot of shots with different lighting- changing the lighting of a scene changes the entire color palette of a scene, and you'd be surprised just how many anime opt to simply have all their scenes take place in broad daylight or a brightly lit room. As for the characters, their designs are solidly done, but they don't really break out of established archetypes. The art is also a bit excessively fan-service-y at times; let's just say some girls were 'endowed' with more than just athletic ability and some of their badminton outfits looked pretty outlandish compared to what came up in my Google image search of 'Women's Olympic Badminton'.


Mallorie Rodak voices Shiwahime Yuika. Shiwahime is automatically Best Girl. But I digress... Ahem, anyway... Otherwise sound is fine, but I can't point any one thing that really pushes it above 'decent' and 'solid'.


This one is a mixed bag. On one hand, the Bullet Train pace of the story means major characters arcs are often blazed through with little impact, and cast members can end up doing heel-face or face-heel turns on a dime. On the other hand, Hanebado did something I legitimately wasn't expecting with Main Character Hanesaki Ayano: there were times she was straight-up played as the villain. In most sports stories I've seen, when a character is The Jerk that's their whole character- they ARE The Jerk. But without going into excessive spoiler territory, the more we learn about Hanesaki the more we see that while she has positive characteristics and is generally nice and likable under certain circumstances she has this nasty streak to her personality that completely takes over. And this bad part of her isn't glossed over, nor do they rely on the old trick of hiding a character's flaws by pitting her against someone far morally worse, there are times when you'll be left thinking "OK, this girl needs to lose and get some sense knocked into her." It just wasn't something I was expecting from the moe MC who is clearly going to be the character selling the merchandise.


Hanebado is fun, but it has its flaws, some of them significant. I won't tell you to skip it, but I can't say it deserves to be near the top of your list either. Watch it if you're in the mood.